|Karen Black's 1986 ad that appeared in "Variety" touting the four films she had made that year|
|Karen Black as country singer Connie White in Robert Altman's "Nashville" (1975)|
|Black sings her own composition "I Don't Know if I Found it in You" in "Nashville" (1975)|
Despite its ups and downs, I think Karen Black has had one of the most rewarding film careers in the history of cinema. Even during that period in the 1980s when she was being cast in exploitation fare, the variety and kinds of roles she was being offered were still the sorts of parts that would only be offered to a talented actress. In the South African action film, "Hostage," Black played a soft-core porn actress who is on an airline flight hijacked by terrorists. She befriends the ill little boy on the flight and even agrees to sleep with one of the terrorists in exchange for the boy's freedom. Black later has a nicely-written and beautifully acted monologue where she explains to the little boy's mother that she once acted as a surrogate mother for her childless sister and her husband so that they could have a baby of their own. She was grieving over the fact that her sister, brother-in-law, and the boy that she gave birth to had recently died, and this motivated her decision to help the sick child on the flight as a way to make amends for the son she never got to know. It's a scene that could have been maudlin, but Black evoked real feeling and depth in order to make you believe in this character. Black's talent and professionalism in this instance confirms that there are no small parts, just small actors.