Voice and Movement
Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda
The film A Fish Called Wanda is on the AFI's (American Film Institute) Greatest 100 Comedies list. Although this film features talented actors like John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline easily steals the show. Kline gives a brilliant performance as the pseudo-intellectual Otto. What makes Kline so remarkable is the way that he moves and makes his character dance across the screen.
Right from the outset, in one of the film'sfirst scene, we see that Kline's Otto is no normal jewel thief. Even though Otto is supposed to be working under the guise that he is Wanda's (Jamie Lee Curtis) sister, he quickly gives her breast a squeeze in full view of Ken, one of the other robbers. What makes this movement work comically is that Kline does it so lightening fast and that if you blinked you might miss it. He has such control over his arm that he is able to extend it, and withdraw it in a matter of maybe a second. This allows for the suspended disbelief that Ken does not see him do it.
Another movement that Kline makes also speaks volumes about his body control. Otto and Wanda are together in what I take to be Otto's quarters. They are speaking excitedly about something and he leaps into the air, grabs a pipe that is suspended from the ceiling, lifts himself completely off the ground and sails on to the bed with the grace of a ballerina. This is so interesting because Kline's Otto is supposed to a be a vulgar American bank robber.His graceful movement is evidenced again when Otto and Wanda go to the garage to claim the jewels the stole from a safe. Otto is angered by the fact that the jewels are not there. He goes over to kick a car out of anger. Rather then just kicking the tire, or burying his foot into the car door, Kline leaps into up and kicks the car twice while he is in the air. He takes what is just a …