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Don LaFontaine, 1940-2008

by admin September 4, 2008 10:13 am
Don LaFontaine, 1940-2008

When watching movie trailers, audiences are usually so entranced by the images they're shown that few people think about the voice that's telling them what the movie's about. Of course, if the voice is doing its job right, you don't have to think about it; only a bad voice-over jars you out of the scenes you're watching. A good voice-over will make you think some omnipotent deity is inside your head, filling you in on the details, and more often than not, Don LaFontaine was that omnipotent deity. Sadly, he passed away on September 1, which means he just got a lot more omnipotent, and one step closer to deification.

His face may have been familiar to people from the Geico commercial he did recently, voice-overing a woman's description of her car's flood damage. (Sadly, they refer to him as "that announcer guy from the movies," which is kind of insulting. He had a name, jerks, and so did "sound effects guy" Michael Winslow.) But his voice was a lot more familiar, gracing thousands of film trailers over the course of his career, becoming so ubiquitous that whenever somebody emulated a voice-over announcer, they were emulating LaFontaine. (Or that guy who did The Price is Right.)

Trained as a recording engineer in the army, LaFontaine went into promo production, but a fill-in behind the microphone on a 1965 Western led to a lot more work. With his deep, rumbling voice, he eventually did some of the biggest movies of the century, including Batman Returns, The Terminator, and The Godfather Part II. He did lighter comedies as well, mocking his own dramatic delivery in the trailer for The Simpsons Movie. His trademark phrase was "In a world...," a line that many would say he made popular -- so popular that it was the first of many voice-over clich├ęs that were mocked in the Comedian trailer. But who has the last laugh now? ...Oh, right. Sorry.

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