Paramount/Buena Vista, June 1981.
Ms. Clarke as Valerian
the late Sir Ralph Richardson as Ulrich
Peter MacNichol as Galen…a role he prefers not to acknowledge anymore.

In the eighth century, an ancient dragon plagues the kingdom of Urland. Urland's king has been placating this dragon by feeding it a maiden chosen by lottery every spring and fall. Tired of the dragon and the lottery, a delegation led by the lad Valerian asks the equally aged sorcerer Ulrich to come and slay the dragon. But then Ulrich is killed by an agent of the king. This leaves Galen, Ulrich's young and inept apprentice, to do battle with the dragon with what little magic he has learned — and with a magnificent lance called Dragonslayer forged by Valerian's blacksmith father.

Ms. Clarke's spirited performance makes Dragonslayer the film by which she is best known. Every time a cable network broadcasts the film, I would get an occasional e-mail asking about her, although now the e-mails take on a tone of sadness and sympathy as their authors find she is no longer with us.

Regrettably, the film did poorly at the box office due mainly to its co-backer, Buena Vista (Disney) Productions. Dragonslayer is rather violent and two fair maidens end up as Purina Dragon Chow—notstandard Disney fare at the time. It was filmed in the summer of 1980 and meant for release during the Christmas season. Disney's lack of spine delayed the release until the following summer—where it competed against Raiders of the Lost Ark and Superman II. As a result, Disney founded Touchstone Pictures (and later bought Miramax) to handle films that are not likely to get a G rating.

Crocodile Dundee

Paramount, September 1986.
Ms. Clarke as Simone.
Paul Hogan as Mike Crocodile Dundee.

The adventures of Crocodile Dundee, a native of the Australian outback, who accepts an invitation by American journalist Sue Charlton to visit New York City. The city's denizens do not quite know what to make of him.

This is the film that brought fame to Paul Hogan. Ms. Clarke's Simone is a hooker who appears just long enough to attract Dundee's attention (and for him to pound her pimp into a paste).

The Kid Brother

Kinema Tokyo America/Bandai/Toho Towa Productions, 1987.
Ms. Clarke as Sharon.

Kenny Easterday is a young man born with neither legs nor a lower abdomen, but who otherwise lives a normal life—at least until a local newspaper article and a BBC documentary brings him into public awareness. Now a TV crew from France has come to film him, and all the attention he gets puts serious strains on his family.

Kenny plays himself in this film, with Ms. Clarke as his mother.

Odd that this film was co-produced by Bandai, better known for its animé (Sailor Moon, Vision of Escaflowne). In fact, the film crew was fairly international, and the film itself did very well outside the United States.


independent, summer 1989.
Ms. Clarke as Aurora/George Sand.
Paul McGann as Chopin.

Outspoken novelist George Sand falls in love with gentle composer Chopin, who at first finds her repulsive. This film is about their first weekend together.

Impromptu was produced as a test at the Sundance Institute Summer Filmmakers Lab in 1989. When the Hollywood version with Judy Davis and Hugh Grant was released in 1991, the test film sank out of sight. I am told the test version was much better.

Penn & Teller Get Killed

Warner Brothers, September 1989.
Ms. Clarke as Carlotta/Celia McGuire.
Penn & Teller as themselves.

Penn and Teller are magicians (the sleight-of-hand type) who specialize in the weird and morbid. Evidently they save this sort of legerdemain for the casino circuit. I have seen them perform at Ball State University in June 2002 (and on the PBS series Behind the Scenes a decade before); I found their act relatively tame.

However, there is nothing tame about the film. Penn, big in size and loud in mouth, jokingly announces on network television that he thinks it might be cool to have his life threatened. Sure enough, many try to do him in—including (apparently) his partner, the small and silent Teller. Then along comes a real psycho who takes deadly potshots at Penn.

Ms. Clarke's Carlotta is the pair's manager, whose job mainly consists of explaining away her clients' morbid gags to potential bookings and of participating in most of the gags, esp. a whooping one where she's the cop protecting Penn.

The title pretty much gives away the ending, for Penn and Teller really do die at the end of the film, as does Carlotta, the psychopath, his friend, a couple of cops, and on and on.

Warner Brothers took one look that this film and went Ewwww!. The film developed enough of a cult following, however, to compel the studio to issue it on videocassette. It was released on DVD only as part of a Warner Bros. video-conversion project.

The Big Picture

Columbia, 1989.
Ms. Clarke as Sharon
Kevin Bacon as Nick Chapman

Nick Chapman is an aspiring filmmaker with an idea for a film—about a love triangle in a lonely cabin in winter. Hollywood lures him to compromise his ideals as his idea gets twisted and battered in his search for money and a studio to put that idea on film.

Ms. Clarke plays Sharon, the female apex of the love triangle; she only appears at the very beginning and very end of the film.

The fact that she appears in a film with Kevin Bacon has gotten her in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (or Baconization) fad that erupts periodically on the Internet. Silly, isn't it? And, as demonstrated, Ms. Clarke's Bacon number is 1.

Blown Away

MGM, 1994.
Ms. Clarke as Rita.
Jeff Bridges as Liam/Jimmy Dove
Tommy Lee Jones as Ryan Gaerity

This firm narrates the struggle between Jimmy Dove of the Boston Bomb Squad and his former teacher, IRA terrorist/master bombmaker Ryan Gaerity, whom Dove put away twenty years ago when it became clear Gaerity planned to murder innocent people. Now Gaerity has escaped from prison, come to Boston and is unleashing a series of bombings meant to get at Dove.

Ms. Clarke's Rita, a fellow bomb squad cop, lasts about an hour into the film before going boom.

The Typewriter, The Rifle & The Movie Camera

independent (Tim Robbins, producer and narrator), 1996.

Documentary about the life and career of screenwriter/director Samuel Fuller, whose best known film was the war movie The Big Red One but whose earlier works handled controversial topics.

A Cure For Serpents

independent (Elise MacAdam, Director/Writer/Editor), 1997.
Ms. Clarke as Mother.
Liza Weil as Lucy.

In this fourteen-minute black-and-white film, Ms. Clarke plays a mother deeply obsessed with cleanliness (she is hardly without a bottle of Formula 409™ in her hand), and on a collision course with her teenage daughter Lucy, who is tired of such a life.

The technical term for the mother's mental problem is mysophobia.

The film used to be available on the AtomFilms Web site for those with Windows Media Player or RealPlayer, and a very fast data pipe. It has long since been taken down.

Cost of Living

independent, 1997.
Ms. Clarke as Annie.

A woman drifts into a Long Island port with hopes of bilking the locals. But she stays too long, and her past (in the form of an angry biker husband) catches up with her. This has been billed as a thriller/film noir; IMHO the film is too existential to be thrilling.

Ms. Clarke plays a sympathetic waitress with whom the heroine lives.

Joe The King

49th Parallel/Forensic/291 Films/Lower East Side Productions, 1999
Ms. Clarke as Pat.

The life of an impoverished fourteen-year-old football of Fate, surrounded by maggots for adults and with no way of escape.

Never Again

Focus/USA Films, 2002.
Ms. Clarke as Allison.
Jill Clayburgh as Grace.

Two middle-aged people, divorced and determined never to fall in love again, discover each other in a gay bar into which the woman escapes from a blind date gone sour. This is billed as a love story for immature people, although one review preferred the adjective moronic.

Ms. Clarke's role is microscopic, just long enough to dump the male lead in frustration.