Movie Article

Credit Report

Uncredited movie performances -- Alec Guiness, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Duvall are some of the actors who showed up onscreen

Entirely aside from the question of why Havana is such a startlingly poor film, the big surprise of the movie is Raul Julia — not his performance, but the fact that he's on-screen at all. Julia's name never appeared in the movie's opening credits or on its ads or posters. It makes you wonder what other surprise performances are hidden in movies on the video-store shelves. Here are some of the most intriguing appearances ever to go uncredited.

Glenda Jackson in The Boyfriend (1971)
Jackson plays the brittle star of a terrible Jazz Age musical who misses her chance at stardom when a visiting Hollywood director sees — and selects — her understudy (Twiggy) for a film. Ken Russell's pastiche of all the worst excesses of kitschy director Busby Berkeley puts Jackson's acting skills to a most severe test: She has to weep visibly over Twiggy's ''brilliant'' performance. B-

Robert Duvall in The Conversation (1974)
Gene Hackman stars as Harry Caul, a wiretapper in Francis Ford Coppola's atmospheric parable about modern alienation. Duvall turns up in the key role of the Director, a man who hires Caul to get information on his unfaithful wife. Like most of the characters in the story, he is a cipher, tense and potentially menacing, a mysterious figure who may or may not be planning a murder. A

Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein (1974)
As the blind hermit Harold who prays for a ''friend'' and gets a monster (Peter Boyle) instead, Hackman delivers a marvelous parody of the sincere blind man in Bride of Frankenstein. The film's best moment is the famous soup scene: Unable to see his guest's bowl, Harold pours scalding hot soup in the monster's lap. A

Elizabeth Taylor in Winter Kills (1979)
Almost everyone ends up dead in this crazy conspiracy comedy based on the assassination of President Kennedy. Taylor appears in a silent, voiced- over sequence as Lola Comante, a Washington hostess who supplies bedmates for the President and acts as a catalyst for his assassination. B-

Jack Nicholson in Broadcast News (1987)
Nicholson plays a veteran TV news anchor who is one part reputation and nine parts automaton. As a drugged-out media father figure who wields great power but has nothing to say, Nicholson personifies the movie's point: TV news is sometimes as empty as its creators. A

Alec Guinness in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Although killed off in Star Wars, Guinness returns as the ghost of Obi Wan-Kenobi in both sequels. He was reportedly paid a fortune for the brief turns, but series creator George Lucas felt his guiding voice (''The force be with you'') was crucial to hero Luke Skywalker's transformation into a Jedi knight, rather than a mere Obi Wannabe. The Empire Strikes Back: A; Return of the Jedi: B

Originally posted May 10, 1991 Published in issue #65 May 10, 1991 Order article reprints