Keith David is pretty well known these days both for his voice and his physical presence in various mainstream genre films. I always find it interesting to note when well respected actors had somewhat sketchy or sleazy early careers. I'm always interested in the "low class" origins of stars. Some like to distance themselves from it the bigger they get, others are proud of it and never really stop slumming no matter what their salary. Keith David is a great example of this because he had some choice supporting roles in some of the classics of 80’s genre film at the start of his career but still tends to do unusual and offbeat pictures. In case you forgot, here's a rundown of David's early career to enjoy all over again.
Director – John Carpenter
The first starring role for David also broke the mold requiring the black sidekick to die in the act of saving/helping the white hero. After The Thing snuck through, that mold was repaired quickly and put back into service. The Thing is one of those films that is just as good each time you watch it provided you give it enough time. In the interim you can enjoy it vicariously with what I consider one of Ennio Morricone’s best soundtracks which you can find at Illogical Contraption.
United States – 1986
Director – Oliver Stone
The first appearance of David and Charlie Sheen together made us think for a second that Sheen might not be a total boner, and Oliver Stone might be a genius. Oops. But it also gave us “King”, David’s character who doesn’t like to perform cunnilingus, but enjoys “sniffing some of that cross mounted pussy down by the river,” whatever that means.
United States - 1988
Director - John Carpenter
I'm not sure I understand the extent to which people have tried to analyze the messages in this film, they seem neither subtle nor obvious to me. In fact I don't think there are any messages except perhaps for one. Its meta-narrative tells us that over analyzing something can deliver a deep and futile satisfaction, and reveal the total pointlessness of subjective criticism. But hey, that's why we're here.
United States -1989
Director – Rowdy Herrington
I threw this one in because five is a nice round number and I I'm hoping that the inclusion of the name Swayze will get this page more hits. David plays the bartender who replaces John Doe when the Roadhouse is cleaned up and turned into a soulless nightclub. This is really an 80’s blue-collar version of Fight Club. The scene in which Carrie the waitress (Kathleen Wilhoite) has a spontaneous orgasm at the mere sight of Swayze’s ass is alone worth the spine-tingling price of admission.
United States- 1990
Director – Emilio Esteves
This movie left a mark upon American culture much like a tattoo, blurrier, uglier and more regrettable with each passing day, but nevertheless permanent. It gave us three amazing things: Charlie Sheen with a mullet in full-bore cokehead mode, the end of Emilio Esteves' respectability, and David’s line “Somebody threw away a perfectly good white boy,” which might be a reference to the first two things.