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WEDNESDAY

“Are you gonna cry? Gonna squirt a few?” Boing! Boing! Boing! In the history of cinema, no one has ever berated a teenager, then bounced a basketball off the poor kid’s face, quite like Robert Duvall in The Great Santini. “You smell that?…I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” And no one has ever portrayed the numbing effects of war (then gone surfing) like Duvall in Apocalypse Now. “I don’t trust happiness. Never did, never will.” And no one has ever played a C&W washout like the Oscar-winning Duvall in Tender Mercies. Hell, if Boo Radley (Duvall’s big-screen debut role) had uttered anything poetic in To Kill a Mockingbird, I woulda quoted that, too. Blessed with an old-man-of-the-mountains mug and a voice fit for a carny, great pretender Duvall, now 72, has remarkably few duds lurking in his epic filmography. (OK, Gone in Sixty Seconds sucks.) In fact, this descendant of Robert E. Lee (whom he portrayed in Gods and Generals) just might be the best actor we’ll ever see. Just for fun, bring a basketball for him to sign when Duvall speaks in a Smithsonian Associates program hosted by National Public Radio film critic (and Washington City Paper contributor) Bob Mondello at 7 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $20. (202) 357-3030. (Sean Daly)