Rodney Dangerfield Was in a Kubrick Movie (And Got No Respect)

If it wasn’t for Stanley Kubrick, we may never have gotten ‘Ladybugs’
Rodney Dangerfield Was in a Kubrick Movie (And Got No Respect)

The cinematic output of legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield wasn’t exactly critically acclaimed. Sure he made the beloved ‘80s comedies Easy Money and Back to School, but then, weirdly, ‘90s Hollywood sweatily tried to turn the often crass comic into a family entertainer. There was Where’s Rodney, a failed sitcom about a high school student who has the godlike (yet ultimately pretty disappointing) power to conjure Dangerfield at will, which then paved the way for Rover Dangerfield, in which Rodney plays a cartoon dog version of himself who, say, sings a song about how he won’t take a piss on a Christmas tree out of fear of angering Santa Claus. 

Not to mention 1992’s Ladybugs, a movie that is improved significantly when whittled down to a 60 second YouTube video …

But despite the fact that he generally got no respect from film critics, a young Rodney once worked with one of the most renowned filmmakers of all time: Stanley Kubrick. No, he doesn’t show up as a lascivious astronaut in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the ghost of The Overlook Hotel’s resident nightclub act in The Shining or Dr. Strangelove’s colleague Dr. Vinnie Boombatz. Dangerfield turns up for just the briefest of moments in one of Kubrick’s early masterpieces: the 1956 film noir The Killing.

As noted in an essay by Chuck Stephens, published by Criterion, Rodney’s first screen appearance, technically, was as an uncredited extra in a crowd scene in The Killing -- he’s listed simply as “Onlooker” on IMDb. 

United Artists/Criterion

So there you have it, the future star of Meet Wally Sparks began his career with Stanley Kubrick. Sadly the scene didn’t last long enough for Rodney to cartoonishly adjust his tie or lay down an embarrassing hip-hop track. 

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Top Image: Paramount Pictures


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