Keeping His Hand In

By Mark Steyn

Martin Landau died a week ago at the age of 89. He was a versatile actor who connected less often than he should have with the perfect part, but, when he did, there was none better. In the late Sixties, he was a TV fixture on "Mission: Impossible", playing the most watchable character Rollin Hand, a master of disguise who could pass himself off as almost anyone. It was a fun role for Landau, and created for him (the name of the part in early scripts was "Martin Land") and his particular talents: half the time, to make it even more enjoyable, they had him play the guy he was meant to be impersonating, too. Needless to say, as part of its general abuse of the source material, Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise dispensed with the Hand character, and in turn Landau always despised the big-screen version for turning a game of wit and ingenuity into just another CGI explosions caper.

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