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slaytonf

Was there already a John Payne thread?

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It looked like Saturday night was John Payne night. But he's not in Stranger on the Third Floor (1940). In any case, I thought I'd give a shout out for him. He had a varied movie career, but his biggest success came in musicals opposite stars like Betty Grable. He also mined a tough guy vein in movies like Kansas City Confidential (1952), and one I'd like to draw people's attention to The Crooked Way (1949). His imposing presence on screen was well suited for transmitting a sense of danger and violence that the rolls called for.

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Personally, I never thought Payne was anyone exceptional as an actor, but not really any bit of a slouch either.  He could hold his own in a variety of roles.  And to me, was always held in a ROBERT TAYLOR/JOHN HODIAK sort of category of actor.  You know, could be "good guy", "bad guy", nice guy or creep.  dark and fairly good looking enough to appeal to women like Grable, little SONIA HENIE, etc.  Could play the fool or savvy hero with equal aplomb and be convincing enough.

Certainly largely overlooked by younger generations these days.  Most only recognize him as the "nice Mr. Gaily" lawyer character in MIRACLE ON 34th STREET, and yet STILL not knowing the actor's name.  :unsure:

Sepiatone

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Maureen O'Hara respected him a great deal. She claimed he was one of the most professional leading men she ever worked with in Hollywood.

An accident sidelined his career in the early 60s. But he had a minor comeback in a 1975 episode of Columbo opposite Janet Leigh. He did a musical type dancing scene with Leigh, playing her old costar.

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I find Payne to be pleasantly bland in that series of musicals he made at Fox, supporting the likes of Grable and Faye.

Payne might not be as well recalled for his performance in Miracle on 34th Street as Edmund Gwenn or even Maureen O'Hara but it was Payne who was instrumental in the film even being made at all. He had seen the short story in a magazine upon which it was based and was the one who pressed Fox to make a movie of it. He even put up some of his own money for the project (he was a man who believed in the impossible, why he was so drawn to the story) and even had a few suggestions of his own for the story make it into the final film. Remember the scene in which the little girl sits on Santa's lap in Macy's and they converse in Dutch? That was John Payne's suggestion. Miracle would remain Payne's favourite film of his career.

Having said that, the Payne that I most enjoy watching is the screen tough guy into which he evolved during the late '40s and '50s (not unlike Dick Powell). He gave convincingly hard edged performances in a number of noirs, with tonight's The Crooked Way being one of the lesser efforts still worth a look.

For my money the two highlights of this small collection were a pair of Phil Karlsen directed efforts, Kansas City Confidential and, in particular, his hard boiled portrayal of a cabbie out on the mean streets trying prove he didn't commit a murder in 99 River Street. Karlsen and Payne collaborated for a third effort, Hell's Island, with less satisfactory results.

For 99 River Street alone I have a lot of respect for Payne as an actor. This film also has vivid support from Evelyn Keyes and Brad Dexter.

99+River+Street.JPG

 

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It seems like I remember watching John Payne in a western TV series when I was a kid (as a gunfighter or cowboy). Something along the line of those half hour shows like Wanted Dead or Alive, or The Bounty Hunter (not sure if that title is correct, the one with Steve McQueen and a sawed off winchester).
I remember being kinda surprized at how long the guy has been on the screen. He played that affable minor role in Dodsworth, back in the '30s. Tried his hand as a song and dance man a bit, and did a few tough guy noirs and a couple as a swashbuckler action type. And even performed well in a few sentimental romdram pieces. He had the looks of a leading man, played support to a several better known leading men (like Ty Power), and opposite more than a few stunning leading ladies. He was never an unrecognizable character actor type and certainly managed to stay active for a long time. But somehow never quite found his chops in any specific genre. 
It seems like he just sort-of faded away. But thankfully I always recognize him whenever I see him in anything, and always am able to remember his name (at least so far).

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The Restless Gun was the name of that TV western, Stephen.

Apparently Payne was an intelligent guy with a good head for business. He started to branch out with his kind of roles after the war, getting in more variety, which included westerns and crime films. He signed a contract with Pine-Thomas Productions, shrewd enough to insist on the films being in colour, with rights to the films reverting to him after a few years, helping to make him wealthy after he rented those films to television. A smart cookie indeed.

Then came his pedestrian accident on Madison Avenue in 1961 when he was struck by a car, flung onto the hood with his head smashing into the windshield. He was operated upon for hours, which included trying to preserve his face (part of his fortune as an actor). By 1964 he was recovered enough to act again, but would continue to have difficulty with his leg. In 1973 he was reunited singing on stage with Alice Faye, but the pain in his leg made it a short run for him, unfortunately.

Alice Faye would later say that Payne was well read (he loved poetry, Greek philosophy and Jungian psychology) and a fine businessman. She also called Payne the least actorish leading man she ever had.

Payne married three times, the first two to actresses Anne Shirley and Gloria De Haven. Payne still carried a big torch for Shirley after their divorce. Maureen O'Hara reported that he came into her dressing room shocked after discovering that Shirley was filing for divorce, and broke down sobbing.

He always remained, no matter what happened in his marriages, devoted to his children.

Payne died of heart failure in 1989, with Miracle on 34th Street playing on TV at the time. His daughter, Clancy, loves watching him in that film, saying that the gentle man with the calm voice she sees on screen reminds her so much of her real life Dad.

Natalie-Wood-and-John-Payne-rehearsing-l

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That was it, THE RESTLESS GUN, Thanks Tom.
So he just faded off the screen to the more lucrative "back end" of the camera (so-to-speak). That is nice to know!
Sorry to hear about that accident.
But nice to hear that he was a such a sharp and well rounded person in real-life, and that his fellow actors thought kindly about him.
Thank you for the insight. :)

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2 minutes ago, Stephan55 said:

That was it, THE RESTLESS GUN, Thanks Tom.
So he just faded off the screen to the more lucrative "back end" of the camera (so-to-speak). That is nice to know!
Sorry to hear about that accident.
But nice to hear that he was a such a sharp and well rounded person in real-life, and that his fellow actors thought kindly about him.
Thank you for the insight. :)

I got all this Payne info from a Classic Images article about him. I found it difficult not to like the guy I read about.

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15 minutes ago, Stephan55 said:

That was it, THE RESTLESS GUN, Thanks Tom.
So he just faded off the screen to the more lucrative "back end" of the camera (so-to-speak). That is nice to know!
Sorry to hear about that accident.
But nice to hear that he was a such a sharp and well rounded person in real-life, and that his fellow actors thought kindly about him.
Thank you for the insight. :)

My grade school lunch hour at home was soup and a sandwich and The Restless Gun.

I never saw much of John Payne as a kid in any of those Late Show movies. He was just somewhat of a nonentity to me.

I probably never even noticed him until they started showing Miracle on 34th Street on television and I got into Busby Berkeley musicals at Fox.

In the last few years I've seen him in some noirs that were quite credible - - like Kansas City Confidential and The Crooked Way.

It seems as though he never quite was able to get past Don Ameche in those Fox movies and that he never made a strong starring impression in the noirs like Alan Ladd, but his performance in the Natalie Wood movie is so outstanding that it makes you wonder why he never reached his potential?

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We should also add that before he signed with Fox, he had been under contract at Warners for a few years. He made some B films at Warners, and TCM plays them on occasion.

The best of these is TEAR GAS SQUAD, pairing him with Dennis Morgan. Others include GARDEN OF THE MOON; KID NIGHTINGALE; WINGS OF THE NAVY; and INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDWAY.

Before Warners, he appeared in Sam Goldwyn's DODSWORTH.

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1 minute ago, Princess of Tap said:

My grade school lunch hour at home was soup and a sandwich and The Restless Gun.

I never saw much of John Payne as a kid in any of those Late Show movies. He was just somewhat of a nonentity to me.

I probably never even noticed him until they started showing Miracle on 34th Street on television and I got into Busby Berkeley musicals at Fox.

In the last few years I've seen him in some noirs that were quite credible - - like Kansas City Confidential and The Crooked Way.

It seems as though he never quite was able to get past Don Ameche in those Fox movies and that he never made a strong starring impression in the noirs like Alan Ladd, but his performance in the Natalie Wood movie is so outstanding that it makes you wonder why he never reached his potential.

Princess, if you haven't seen Payne in 99 River Street you might take a look at it the next time TCM shows it. He gives a very strong rough edged performance, a real contrast to the Payne from those Alice Faye musicals.

I'm sorry TCM isn't showing that particular film tonight. Slightly Scarlet, based on a James M. Cain novel, (with an outstanding performance from Arlene Dahl) is another noir of Payne's worth catching.

Payne might not be as celebrated today in those noirs as some other actors but he's still good.

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For what it's worth, and although I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the following around here in that past, but Payne always reminded me very much of my father, as Pop not only looked a lot like him but the sound of their voices were also similar.

(...and so I always wondered how good Payne's Tarzan yell might have been, 'cause I gotta tell ya, Pop's was great...REALLY it was!)

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I saw John Payne and Alice Faye in Good News, on stage at the Geary Theater, San Francisco, 1974. Fun production -- great to see them in a show.

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Payne also starred in a pretty decent korean war movie directed by allan dwan, hold back the night about a leather-pouched bottle of scotch that payne stubbornly refuses to crack open and guzzle.

a very rare film nowhere to be found. got a good torrent DL of it years ago. do tcm slackers even know that it exists?

:huh:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049319/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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9 hours ago, Dargo said:

For what it's worth, and although I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the following around here in that past, but Payne always reminded me very much of my father, as Pop not only looked a lot like him but the sound of their voices were also similar.

(...and so I always wondered how good Payne's Tarzan yell might have been, 'cause I gotta tell ya, Pop's was great...REALLY it was!)

Heh!

Now, THERE'S a thread idea...."Which actor/actress did either your mom or dad resemble?"

Well, can't think of any actress Mom resembled or who resembled her, but my STEPFATHER always reminded me(in many ways) of VICTOR JORY.  But not in voice. ;)

Sepiatone

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21 hours ago, yogiboo said:

It's beefcake but WTH

johnpayne2.jpg.6ee1efae092c0d759d1b69f6957f3fc8.jpg

There's nothing wrong with beefcake! Just don't make a thread about it or it might be deleted without warning!

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11 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Heh!

Now, THERE'S a thread idea...."Which actor/actress did either your mom or dad resemble?"

Well, can't think of any actress Mom resembled or who resembled her, but my STEPFATHER always reminded me(in many ways) of VICTOR JORY.  But not in voice. ;)

Sepiatone

I only remember Victor Jory as the mean overseer in Gone with the Wind.???...

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23 hours ago, Dargo said:

For what it's worth, and although I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the following around here in that past, but Payne always reminded me very much of my father, as Pop not only looked a lot like him but the sound of their voices were also similar.

(...and so I always wondered how good Payne's Tarzan yell might have been, 'cause I gotta tell ya, Pop's was great...REALLY it was!)

 

13 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Heh!

Now, THERE'S a thread idea...."Which actor/actress did either your mom or dad resemble?"

Well, can't think of any actress Mom resembled or who resembled her, but my STEPFATHER always reminded me(in many ways) of VICTOR JORY.  But not in voice. ;)

Sepiatone

Well, never having ever known or even seen a picture of my father, I have no idea what he looked like???
But since I grew up with familial feelings toward my favorite stars, I always noticed when anyone I grew up with bore any sort of a resemblance to them.

I thought my future ex-wife (at the time) looked a lot like a young Susan Hayward. :)
That is, before she transformed herself into the Wicked Witch of the West :blink:

















Just kidding, she was a sweet kid. We were both really young and stupid about a lot of things (and likely me way more than her)... :wub:

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Funny.  I had a friend who's ex ALSO resembled a young Hayward!  

And I too, never met my "bio-dad".  Only saw old photos of him from the '40's.  But according to my brother, who went to live with him a few years back in the '60's, I didn't miss out on very much.

PRINCESS--Jory also had a TV show,  MANHUNT( '59-'61) in which he was a detective.  He was also OBERON in 1935's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

Sepiatone

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14 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

There's nothing wrong with beefcake! Just don't make a thread about it or it might be deleted without warning!

LOL! That's right!

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I almost forgot about John Payne night! I remembered in time to catch The Crooked Way (missed the first 5 mins). I missed Confidential, but I'd seen that a few times. Hadnt seen Crooked Way. I enjoy his noirs and find him very handsome! Havent seen his earlier 20th fluff type films.....

 

I hadnt heard about his car accident. Just awful. Thanks, Tom.

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I thought the crooked way had an interesting premise that coulda been carried out better on the screen.

he gets off in LA and just plays along with the first two guys who walk up to him and seem to know him. it's all wrong. he shoulda played it more like carry grant in north by northwest.

you see, when he starts playing along his character loses his innocence. of course I understand he wanted to learn more about himself but if it had been me and the possibility seemed to exist that I might be a gangster and a rat, I woulda high-tailed it back north to the hospital especially after getting clobbered.

I woulda said to myself "hey, I may not have been a very nice person...lemme the hell outta here!"

:)

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9 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Funny.  I had a friend who's ex ALSO resembled a young Hayward!  

And I too, never met my "bio-dad".  Only saw old photos of him from the '40's.  But according to my brother, who went to live with him a few years back in the '60's, I didn't miss out on very much.

...........

Sepiatone

Hmmmm, she did remarry like 3 or 4 more times after me.... <_<
Was your friend A "Louse" too? :unsure:
It seems like some people, that never learn from their first mistake (or 2, or 3, or...), just continue to repeat themselves. They seldom change themselves and develop a habit of remarrying the same "type" over and over again, and incurring the same results.

Wish I had at least an old photo to look at. I sometimes wonder if I "looked" like him, or not.
I may not have missed out on much either, but I would have at least liked an opportunity to find that out for myself.
My mom told me so many conflicting stories ("lies") about the circumstances surrounding my conception, and afterward, that I never knew what (if any of it) was "true." :(
The only thing that I know she said truthfully about it was when I was a kid and she'd get PO'd at me about something and call me a "little bastard!"
She must have shared that bit of knowledge with my ex, as I heard her call me the same thing. -_-

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I dunno.....my friend and his ex married in '72, just a couple of months after me and MY ex hitched.

Sepiatone

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