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Golden age: Roll call

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She was a curvaceous babe with lots of appeal, but Mamie Van Doren didn’t quite become a household name. It wasn’t for lack of trying. In fact nobody probably worked harder to be taken seriously as a movie actress in the 1950s than Mamie did.

 

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As a preteen she and her family had left the midwest and moved out to California. Her name was Joan then, and during the next few years young Joan found jobs as an usher at a movie theater as well as assignments modeling. She also entered beauty pageants around Southern California and when she won one a competition in Palm Springs, she caught the eye of Howard Hughes. He gave her a few bit parts in films as his studio, RKO.

 

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The experience at RKO hardly turned Joan into a star, and when she and Hughes broke up, she went to New York to find stage work. She made a splash there and was signed by a Universal talent scout. So back to Hollywood she went. The studio changed her name, calling her Mamie in recognition of the country’s first lady (Mamie Eisenhower). She had minor parts in films with Tony Curtis and Jeff Chandler, then received her first starring roles.

 

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For several years Mamie appeared in westerns and crime pictures at Universal. In looks and attitude, she resembled Marilyn Monroe (perhaps intentionally). But none of the Monroe clones, except for possibly Jayne Mansfield, really became big stars. Mamie left Universal and found films at other studios. She became typecast as bad girls when she was featured in stories about juvenile delinquents.

 

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  1. forbidden (1953); universal; crime; tony curtis; 85 mins.
  2. all american (1953); universal; drama; tony curtis; 83 mins.
  3. yankee pasha (1954); universal; adventure; jeff chandler; 84 mins.
  4. francis joins the wacs (1954); universal; comedy; donald o’connor; 95 mins.
  5. ain’t misbehavin’ (1955); universal; musical; jack carson; 82 mins.
  6. running wild (1955); universal; crime; william campbell; 81 mins.
  7. the second greatest sex (1955); universal; comedy; jeanne crain; 87 mins.
  8. star in the dust (1956); universal; western; john agar; 80 mins.
  9. the private lives of adam and eve (1960); universal; comedy; mickey rooney; 86 mins.
  10. college confidential (1960); universal; drama; steve allen; 91 mins.

 

Her finest hour - starring with Clark Gable and Doris Day in "Teacher's Pet"?

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Her finest hour - starring with Clark Gable and Doris Day in "Teacher's Pet"?

 

Yes, that was a good role for her. She did a little better when she made films at Paramount.

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Mamie also was in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL with Russ Tamblyn in 1958.  It's sort of a cult classic.  Russ plays an undercover cop in a high school and Mamie plays his "aunt" or some such character.  (I'm not aware of COLLEGE CONFIDENTIAL)

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Mamie also was in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL with Russ Tamblyn in 1958.  It's sort of a cult classic.  Russ plays an undercover cop in a high school and Mamie plays his "aunt" or some such character.  (I'm not aware of COLLEGE CONFIDENTIAL)

 

High School Confidential and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women both secure Mamie a place in the B-movie Hall of Fame.

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Without a doubt Jeff Chandler was one of the busiest leading men who ever worked at Universal. He not only starred in countless motion pictures at the studio, he also had two regular starring roles on radio. Plus he ran his own production company.

 

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Originally Jeff began his career on the east coast. He had an early job in radio, but spent most of his time in those days touring with a stock company. Along the way Jeff became friends with other performers like Gordon MacRae and Susan Hayward. Life in show biz was put on hold when he served four years during the war. After the war, Jeff resumed acting and found his way to southern California. But he had a tough time breaking into the movies.

 

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He began to find success on popular radio programs and starred in the radio version of Michael Shayne. Plus he had a major role with Eve Arden on Our Miss Brooks. During this time he became friends with Dick Powell who lobbied to have him cast in an uncredited role in the Columbia noir JOHNNY O’CLOCK. There were some B films at Fox after this, before Universal hired him to make SWORD OF THE DESERT, in which he had a substantial supporting role. The execs were impressed with Jeff and signed him to a seven-year contract.

 

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Jeff was loaned to Fox for BROKEN ARROW, which made him a star and netted him an Oscar nomination. He would repeat his role as Cochise in other films. Back at Universal, he made a string of hit films across several genres, with all the studio’s most important leading ladies. Jeff was soon Universal’s biggest star, though his box office clout would eventually be eclipsed by Rock Hudson.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-15-39-am.png

 

Jeff continued to work for Universal, but in the late 50s and early 60s, he was busy with his own production company and made some independent films in which he starred. Also, he did an early TV movie before his untimely death. One of his last major starring roles found him working at Paramount with his old pal Susan Hayward.

 

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  1. sword in the desert (1949); universal; war; dana andrews; 101 mins.
  2. abandoned (1949); universal; crime; dennis o’keefe; 79 mins.
  3. deported (1950); universal; crime; marta toren; 89 mins.
  4. smuggler’s island (1951); universal; adventure; evelyn keyes; 75 mins.
  5. flame of araby (1951); universal; adventure; maureen o’hara; 77 mins.
  6. red ball express (1952); universal; war; alex nicol; 83 mins.
  7. yankee buccaneer (1952); universal; adventure; scott brady; 86 mins.
  8. because of you (1952); universal; drama; loretta young; 83 mins.
  9. the great sioux uprising (1953); universal; western; faith domergue; 80 mins.
  10. sign of the pagan (1954); universal; historical drama; jack palance; 92 mins.

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screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-14-08-am.png

 

Without a doubt Jeff Chandler was one of the busiest leading men who ever worked at Universal. He not only starred in countless motion pictures at the studio, he also had two regular starring roles on radio. Plus he ran his own production company.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-16-51-am.png

 

Originally Jeff began his career on the east coast. He had an early job in radio, but spent most of his time in those days touring with a stock company. Along the way Jeff became friends with other performers like Gordon MacRae and Susan Hayward. Life in show biz was put on hold when he served four years during the war. After the war, Jeff resumed acting and found his way to southern California. But he had a tough time breaking into the movies.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-16-19-am.png

 

He began to find success on popular radio programs and starred in the radio version of Michael Shayne. Plus he had a major role with Eve Arden on Our Miss Brooks. During this time he became friends with Dick Powell who lobbied to have him cast in an uncredited role in the Columbia noir JOHNNY O’CLOCK. There were some B films at Fox after this, before Universal hired him to make SWORD OF THE DESERT, in which he had a substantial supporting role. The execs were impressed with Jeff and signed him to a seven-year contract.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-17-44-am.png

 

Jeff was loaned to Fox for BROKEN ARROW, which made him a star and netted him an Oscar nomination. He would repeat his role as Cochise in other films. Back at Universal, he made a string of hit films across several genres, with all the studio’s most important leading ladies. Jeff was soon Universal’s biggest star, though his box office clout would eventually be eclipsed by Rock Hudson.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-15-39-am.png

 

Jeff continued to work for Universal, but in the late 50s and early 60s, he was busy with his own production company and made some independent films in which he starred. Also, he did an early TV movie before his untimely death. One of his last major starring roles found him working at Paramount with his old pal Susan Hayward.

 

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  1. sword in the desert (1949); universal; war; dana andrews; 101 mins.
  2. abandoned (1949); universal; crime; dennis o’keefe; 79 mins.
  3. deported (1950); universal; crime; marta toren; 89 mins.
  4. smuggler’s island (1951); universal; adventure; evelyn keyes; 75 mins.
  5. flame of araby (1951); universal; adventure; maureen o’hara; 77 mins.
  6. red ball express (1952); universal; war; alex nicol; 83 mins.
  7. yankee buccaneer (1952); universal; adventure; scott brady; 86 mins.
  8. because of you (1952); universal; drama; loretta young; 83 mins.
  9. the great sioux uprising (1953); universal; western; faith domergue; 80 mins.
  10. sign of the pagan (1954); universal; historical drama; jack palance; 92 mins.

 

now there's a guy who died before his time.

 

what a great starship captain jeff woulda made on star trek.

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screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-14-08-am.png

 

Without a doubt Jeff Chandler was one of the busiest leading men who ever worked at Universal. He not only starred in countless motion pictures at the studio, he also had two regular starring roles on radio. Plus he ran his own production company.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-16-51-am.png

 

Originally Jeff began his career on the east coast. He had an early job in radio, but spent most of his time in those days touring with a stock company. Along the way Jeff became friends with other performers like Gordon MacRae and Susan Hayward. Life in show biz was put on hold when he served four years during the war. After the war, Jeff resumed acting and found his way to southern California. But he had a tough time breaking into the movies.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-16-19-am.png

 

He began to find success on popular radio programs and starred in the radio version of Michael Shayne. Plus he had a major role with Eve Arden on Our Miss Brooks. During this time he became friends with Dick Powell who lobbied to have him cast in an uncredited role in the Columbia noir JOHNNY O’CLOCK. There were some B films at Fox after this, before Universal hired him to make SWORD OF THE DESERT, in which he had a substantial supporting role. The execs were impressed with Jeff and signed him to a seven-year contract.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-17-44-am.png

 

Jeff was loaned to Fox for BROKEN ARROW, which made him a star and netted him an Oscar nomination. He would repeat his role as Cochise in other films. Back at Universal, he made a string of hit films across several genres, with all the studio’s most important leading ladies. Jeff was soon Universal’s biggest star, though his box office clout would eventually be eclipsed by Rock Hudson.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-25-at-6-15-39-am.png

 

Jeff continued to work for Universal, but in the late 50s and early 60s, he was busy with his own production company and made some independent films in which he starred. Also, he did an early TV movie before his untimely death. One of his last major starring roles found him working at Paramount with his old pal Susan Hayward.

 

09d8a-screen2bshot2b2016-12-192bat2b2-00

  1. sword in the desert (1949); universal; war; dana andrews; 101 mins.
  2. abandoned (1949); universal; crime; dennis o’keefe; 79 mins.
  3. deported (1950); universal; crime; marta toren; 89 mins.
  4. smuggler’s island (1951); universal; adventure; evelyn keyes; 75 mins.
  5. flame of araby (1951); universal; adventure; maureen o’hara; 77 mins.
  6. red ball express (1952); universal; war; alex nicol; 83 mins.
  7. yankee buccaneer (1952); universal; adventure; scott brady; 86 mins.
  8. because of you (1952); universal; drama; loretta young; 83 mins.
  9. the great sioux uprising (1953); universal; western; faith domergue; 80 mins.
  10. sign of the pagan (1954); universal; historical drama; jack palance; 92 mins.

 

Jeff Chandler and Joan Crawford were a memorable duo in "Female On The Beach" - he was a man for hire and handled by Cecil Kellaway and Natalie Schaefer; Miss Crawford wasn't able to keep away from him (we hear you, Joan).

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Jeff Chandler and Joan Crawford were a memorable duo in "Female On The Beach" - he was a man for hire and handled by Cecil Kellaway and Natalie Schaefer; Miss Crawford wasn't able to keep away from him (we hear you, Joan).

 

What an interesting list of recommended films for Jeff Chandler;  I can't recall seeing any of them! 

 

I have seen Johnny O'clock,  Broken Arrow,  Foxfire,  Female On The Beach,  The Tattered Dress, and Return to Peyton Place.

 

Some of those short running adventure films Chandler made for Universal with stars like O'Hara or Keyes sound interesting in that I assume they are fairly fast paced in order to play out the adventure in < 80 minutes.

 

I always liked his screen persona;  just the right balance of the macho with the sensitive.  

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What an interesting list of recommended film for Jeff Chandler;  I can't recall seeing any of them! 

 

I have seen Johnny O'clock,  Broken Arrow,  Foxfire,  Female On The Beach,  The Tattered Dress, and Return to Peyton Place.

 

Some of those short running adventure films Chandler made for Universal with stars like O'Hara or Keyes sound interesting in that I assume they are fairly fast paced in order to play out the adventure in < 80 minutes.

 

I always like his screen persona;  just the right balance of the macho with the sensitive.  

 

Totally agree about his balance of macho and sensitive. I think some of those action films were under 80 minutes because they were remakes of silent pictures Universal had done decades earlier, back when features were not so long. They didn't add filler scenes and pretty much stuck to the original stories. People went to see them because they were in Technicolor and because they starred Jeff Chandler. LOL

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Totally agree about his balance of macho and sensitive. I think some of those action films were under 80 minutes because they were remakes of silent pictures Universal had done decades earlier, back when features were not so long. They didn't add filler scenes and pretty much stuck to the original stories. People went to see them because they were in Technicolor and because they starred Jeff Chandler. LOL

Just looking at him, experiencing him, was worth the price of admission.

 

And he could turn trash - "Return To Peyton Place" - into something meaningful, too.

 

Esther Williams' exposing him was/still is - unforgivable.

 

Some "secrets" should not be divulged.
 

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Just looking at him, experiencing him, was worth the price of admission.

 

And he could turn trash - "Return To Peyton Place" - into something meaningful, too.

 

Esther Williams' exposing him was/still is - unforgivable.

 

Some "secrets" should not be divulged.
 

 

I wonder how many extra copies Esther sold of her book for that "revelation." LOL

 

We should say that many people who worked with Jeff Chandler and knew him disputed Esther's claims, dismissing them as fiction and a publicity gimmick.

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Just looking at him, experiencing him, was worth the price of admission.

 

And he could turn trash - "Return To Peyton Place" - into something meaningful, too.

 

Esther Williams' exposing him was/still is - unforgivable.

 

Some "secrets" should not be divulged.
 

 

Right.  Everyone, even movie stars, is entitled to some privacy.  From what I understand about what Esther Williams said (and I didn't read the book) is that it wasn't such a big deal (at least to me) so I'm kind of "so what" - let him be.  These "tell all" books by relatives always appear after the person being talked about is dead so readers get only a one-sided account.  Unless they're committing some heinous crime or act, maybe just let it be.  Esther should have remembered that at one time she supposedly loved Jeff.  Show a little class. Show some respect.

 

(As an aside, I'll admit I'm not the biggest Esther Williams fan.  Yeah, she could swim, she was pretty but I find her range as an actress somewhat limited and Jeff Chandler could act rings around her.)

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Right.  Everyone, even movie stars, is entitled to some privacy.  From what I understand about what Esther Williams said (and I didn't read the book) is that it wasn't such a big deal (at least to me) so I'm kind of "so what" - let him be.  These "tell all" books by relatives always appear after the person being talked about is dead so readers get only a one-sided account.  Unless they're committing some heinous crime or act, maybe just let it be.  Esther should have remembered that at one time she supposedly loved Jeff.  Show a little class. Show some respect.

 

(As an aside, I'll admit I'm not the biggest Esther Williams fan.  Yeah, she could swim, she was pretty but I find her range as an actress somewhat limited and Jeff Chandler could act rings around her.)

 

Great post. When I looked at Jeff's filmography, I noticed he had an uncredited role as a singer in THRILL OF A ROMANCE (1945). That's when Esther had become a star at Metro; and Jeff was just starting in Hollywood. Later, after she quit MGM, they made RAW WIND IN EDEN at Universal-- but he was definitely the bigger star in 1958 (though he graciously took second billing-- a nice thing to do since Universal was his home studio and he was one of their top box office attractions).

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Great post. When I looked at Jeff's filmography, I noticed he had an uncredited role as a singer in THRILL OF A ROMANCE (1945). That's when Esther had become a star at Metro; and Jeff was just starting in Hollywood. Later, after she quit MGM, they made RAW WIND IN EDEN at Universal-- but he was definitely the bigger star in 1958 (though he graciously took second billing-- a nice thing to do since Universal was his home studio and he was one of their top box office attractions).

Let's face it, Esther Williams had a very big mouth.

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Not everyone has what it takes to be a movie star. Then again not everyone is as beautiful as Yvonne De Carlo. She was born Margaret but went by her middle name Yvonne when she arrived in Hollywood. De Carlo was her mother’s side of the family, and they were Sicilian, not Spanish, as she often pointed out.

 

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Originally Yvonne and her mother had left their native Canada illegally, and they were deported back across the Canadian border. A short time later mother and daughter were allowed to return to the U.S., legally. They settled in Los Angeles, and Yvonne began to pursue her dreams of becoming a movie star. She was signed with Paramount during the war, but the studio couldn’t seem to figure out how to use her. At one point Yvonne, like so many other actresses, tried out for a role in a Cecil B. DeMille picture, but she was not selected. Soon Paramount dropped her and she was back to square one.

 

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But Yvonne and her mother did not give up. In 1945 she moved over to Universal, and that is where she achieved her greatest success. The studio put her in a sensational action-dance western war picture (there’s no other way to describe it), and she became an overnight star in SALOME, WHERE SHE DANCED. Universal saw great value in promoting its hot new commodity. She was featured in adventure tales and westerns. And occasionally she was used in gritty crime dramas, such as BRUTE FORCE; and the classic noir CRISS CROSS, both with Burt Lancaster.

 

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By the mid-50s, Yvonne had become a freelancer. She was in great demand in England and other parts of Europe. Her career experienced a resurgence when Mr. DeMille asked her to come back to Hollywood and play the part of Sephora in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Years later Yvonne cited this as her best performance.

 

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She was now back at Paramount and an even bigger star. She enjoyed other prestigious assignments, including a role opposite Clark Gable in Warners’ BAND OF ANGELS.

 

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In the early 60s Yvonne took a break from the movies. But when her husband, stuntman Bob Morgan, was severely injured on the set of an MGM western, she was forced to return to the screen to pay his medical bills. Their friend John Wayne gave Yvonne a role in MCCLINTOCK!; and producer A.C. Lyles used her in several of his westerns at Paramount in subsequent years. As part of her husband’s settlement with MGM, Yvonne went to work at Metro; and she had strong secondary roles there in the 60s.

 

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She also managed to squeeze in a two-year gig as Lily Munster in the classic sitcom The Munsters. It brought her a whole new audience. Unlike other actresses, she did not become typecast– her versatility led to more opportunities during the following decades. In 1990, she had a good role in Sylvester Stallone’s mobster comedy OSCAR, where she was able to play a character that was Sicilian, not Spanish.

 

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  1. salome, where she danced (1945); universal; western war adventure; rod cameron; 90 mins.
  2. frontier gal (1945); universal; western; rod cameron; 84 mins.
  3. song of scheherazade (1947); universal; musical comedy; jean-pierre aumont; 105 mins.
  4. slave girl (1947); universal; adventure; george brent; 80 mins.
  5. casbah (1948); universal; musical adventure; tony martin; 94 mins.
  6. black bart (1948); universal; western; dan duryea; 80 mins.
  7. river lady (1948); universal; western; rod cameron; 78 mins.
  8. criss cross (1949); universal; crime; burt lancaster; 84 mins.
  9. calamity jane and sam bass (1949); universal; western; howard duff; 86 mins.
  10. the gal who took the west (1949); universal; western; charles coburn; 84 mins.

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Tomorrow I will post the last write-up on Universal stars-- it focuses on Dan Duryea. Then I will be taking a temporary break with this thread. But there will be more weekly themes and columns starting again in July. Thanks for allowing me to have a bit of the summer "off." LOL

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Dan Duryea spent several years as an ad exec before he gave up the life of a nine-to-five job and pursued acting. The theater was his real love, and he began to earn favorable notices. He had a strong role in the original production of ‘Dead End,’ then made a name for himself in ‘The Little Foxes.’ Producer Samuel Goldwyn was impressed and hired him for the feature film version.

 

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During his time with Goldwyn, Dan appeared opposite Gary Cooper in THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES. He soon became known for his idiosyncratic turns in support of bigger stars. He and Cooper reunited for the western ALONG CAME JONES; and Dan also collaborated twice with Joan Bennett in the Fritz Lang crime dramas WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET.

 

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SCARLET STREET was made at Universal; and soon Dan signed on exclusively with the studio to make a series of thrillers and crime dramas. Usually Dan was cast in villainous parts; and he did quite well at that. Sometimes his shadier characters were the main focus, and he snagged a lead role.

 

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In addition to crime pictures, he found a niche playing rogues in westerns at Universal. He worked with James Stewart and Audie Murphy several times– in one film, NIGHT PASSAGE, they all appeared together. Dan also made forays into television– he starred in two seasons of his own adventure program. Later Dan went overseas and appeared in some European productions. But he would mostly be remembered for his strong film performances at Universal.

 

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  1. scarlet street (1945); universal; crime; joan bennett; 102 mins.
  2. black angel (1946); universal; crime; june vincent; 81 mins.
  3. black bart (1948); universal; western; yvonne de carlo; 80 mins.
  4. larceny (1948); universal; crime; john payne; 89 mins.
  5. johnny stool pigeon (1949); universal; crime; howard duff; 76 mins.
  6. winchester ’73 (1950); universal; western; james stewart; 92 mins.
  7. ride clear of diablo (1954); universal; western; audie murphy; 80 mins.
  8. foxfire (1955); universal; drama; jane russell; 92 mins.
  9. night passage (1957); universal; western; james stewart; 90 mins.
  10. kathy o’ (1958); universal; comedy; patty mccormack; 99 mins.

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screen-shot-2017-05-28-at-8-01-21-am.png

 

Dan Duryea spent several years as an ad exec before he gave up the life of a nine-to-five job and pursued acting. The theater was his real love, and he began to earn favorable notices. He had a strong role in the original production of ‘Dead End,’ then made a name for himself in ‘The Little Foxes.’ Producer Samuel Goldwyn was impressed and hired him for the feature film version.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-27-at-4-55-36-pm.png

 

During his time with Goldwyn, Dan appeared opposite Gary Cooper in THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES. He soon became known for his idiosyncratic turns in support of bigger stars. He and Cooper reunited for the western ALONG CAME JONES; and Dan also collaborated twice with Joan Bennett in the Fritz Lang crime dramas WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-27-at-4-56-39-pm.png

 

SCARLET STREET was made at Universal; and soon Dan signed on exclusively with the studio to make a series of thrillers and crime dramas. Usually Dan was cast in villainous parts; and he did quite well at that. Sometimes his shadier characters were the main focus, and he snagged a lead role.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-27-at-4-53-58-pm.png

 

In addition to crime pictures, he found a niche playing rogues in westerns at Universal. He worked with James Stewart and Audie Murphy several times– in one film, NIGHT PASSAGE, they all appeared together. Dan also made forays into television– he starred in two seasons of his own adventure program. Later Dan went overseas and appeared in some European productions. But he would mostly be remembered for his strong film performances at Universal.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-27-at-4-53-18-pm.png

09d8a-screen2bshot2b2016-12-192bat2b2-00

  1. scarlet street (1945); universal; crime; joan bennett; 102 mins.
  2. black angel (1946); universal; crime; june vincent; 81 mins.
  3. black bart (1948); universal; western; yvonne de carlo; 80 mins.
  4. larceny (1948); universal; crime; john payne; 89 mins.
  5. johnny stool pigeon (1949); universal; crime; howard duff; 76 mins.
  6. winchester ’73 (1950); universal; western; james stewart; 92 mins.
  7. ride clear of diablo (1954); universal; western; audie murphy; 80 mins.
  8. foxfire (1955); universal; drama; jane russell; 92 mins.
  9. night passage (1957); universal; western; james stewart; 90 mins.
  10. kathy o’ (1958); universal; comedy; patty mccormack; 99 mins.

 

Dan Duryea and Lizabeth Scott were terrific together in "Too Late For Tears".

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