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Brian Donlevy: An actor who never gets his due?


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I came across this comment about Donlevy that someone wrote online:

"Brian Donlevy is best remembered for BEAU GESTE, THE GREAT MCGINTY and the radio and tv series Dangerous Assignment as Steve Mitchell. He was under contract for a number of years at Paramount. More popular during World War 2 as younger actors were in the service, he continued to perform up to his death. He played heroes and villains and could do comedy. Preston Sturges showcased him best."

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I see him more as a good guy than a bad guy. His quintessential roles seem those in which he is essentially, polite and respectful of others. That's why his Markoff is such a good performance.

I won't 'rank' his acting but I will say the roles which 'made their impression on me' fall down in this order:

  • The Glass Key
  • Command Decision
  • Beau Geste
  • Impact
  • Destry Rides Again
  • Wake Island

Ultimately, I am much more familiar with him from his radio romps. Any Donlevy fan can soak up 149 30-minute episodes of his 1949-1951 radio show, 'Dangerous Assignment'. He stars as 'Steve Mitchell' (colorful, two-fisted American operative). It's a fun program built on the James Bond formula but Donlevy lends a lot of hilarity with his quip-ready baritone and the quirky way he delivers his lines. The show roves all over the world as Steve Mitchell pursues foreign miscreants ...who seek to destroy ...our America! Its similar to Herbert Marshall's program, 'The Man Called X' but not at all preachy. Its actually very lively, fast-paced, and with lots of lurid villains.

Now, as for Donlevy being 'hated' I need to see a lot more evidence besides this lone anecdote about him as Markoff). This:

Quote

Sorry to tell you Donlevy fans this, but he was truly hated & by all of his co-stars

I'm sorry to tell you that I am not at all convinced. He's not Mickey Rooney after all, who apparently really was disliked. You'd better substantiate this malicious gossip or you'll find yourself on latrine duty and reduced rations.

I promise you! ^_^

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I was about to post a movie I thought featured Donlevy, but made a quick check on imdb (you gotta stay on your toes around here - it only takes 10 seconds for someone to let you know when you've made a mistake!) and discovered the movie I was thinking about actually starred Brian AHERNE. I'm afraid I may have those two actors a little confused.

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

I was about to post a movie I thought featured Donlevy, but made a quick check on imdb (you gotta stay on your toes around here - it only takes 10 seconds for someone to let you know when you've made a mistake!) and discovered the movie I was thinking about actually starred Brian AHERNE. I'm afraid I may have those two actors a little confused.

That's OK.  I used to get those two mixed up until I got more familiar with TCM.  Both usually sported mustaches, though not always, in many of their roles.  Difference was height.  Aherne was a bit on the lanky side.  Donlevy was built like a fireplug.

Recently, I've been noticing a resemblance between Roland Young and Charlie Ruggles...but it could be the cold medication I've been taking! 🍊

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within the last fortnight, midwestan hinted:

Quote

Recently, I've been noticing a resemblance between Roland Young and Charlie Ruggles...but it could be the cold medication I've been taking!

Attaboy! Kindred spirit I see. Pull up an IV next to mine anytime. My nurse will like you, I'm sure--see her? At the ice bath. Red Octopus tattoo.  Let me just blow the foam off my prescription here, and I'll call her over...

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18 hours ago, midwestan said:

That's OK.  I used to get those two mixed up until I got more familiar with TCM.  Both usually sported mustaches, though not always, in many of their roles.  Difference was height.  Aherne was a bit on the lanky side.  Donlevy was built like a fireplug.

Recently, I've been noticing a resemblance between Roland Young and Charlie Ruggles...but it could be the cold medication I've been taking! 🍊

Funny, but whenever I'd drink a little too much Nyquil, I always got Charles Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton a bit mixed-up in my fevered mind!

(...and as I recall, after drinking too much of the stuff I also always got Roland Young confused with Leo G. Carroll)

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o topBilled, I agree a very strong actor, especially in his one & *Oscar nommed role in 1939's "BEAU GESTE" (4 stars!)

 

How we forget "THE MICK" MICKEY ROONEY _(l920-2013

 

 

 

However over any decades he has easily joined the ranks as HOLLYWOODS MOST DIFFICULT aCtOR *Milland almost actually stabbed him during that great adventure!  & *Wellman was more than happy!?  There were many others-(I've written numorous articles about just this over decades titled HOLLYWOODS most Hated/DIFFICULT ACTORS"  I agree you'd never know it from his on-screen persona though  AN EXAMPLE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OT OTHERS THE POEERS LOATHED: Tallulah Bankhead, C, Bennett, W.C. Fields-(I know he was an ultimate GENIIUS!, both *B. Davis & *J. Crawford, Joe Besser, Henry Hathaway,  Raft could be, Edward G. Robinson, Gloria Swanson, Mario Lanza, *Yul Brynner, Roy Rowland, & of all people arguably the movies A #1 all-time greatest director: *John Ford too!, *DeMille himself, Erich von Stroheim, & I HATE TO SAY IT BUT BOTH MY #2 HEROES & IDOLS>*TRACY & *SINATRA were not known to be fun when filming!   & about 20 more if you care to ask

 

I;M BY NO MEANS MAKING THIS UP, IT ISFIRST & FOREMOST FROM MY 150 MOVIE BOOK LIBRARY & THEN SEARCHED INTO IT

 

NOW, IF YOU WANT TO HEAR OF SOME MORE, I HAVE LISTING OF OUR WRA'S AS WELL  A small sample is Shelley Long among a myriad of others, plus Debra Winger& several more

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On ‎12‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 1:34 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

I see him more as a good guy than a bad guy. His quintessential roles seem those in which he is essentially, polite and respectful of others. That's why his Markoff is such a good performance.

I won't 'rank' his acting but I will say the roles which 'made their impression on me' fall down in this order:

  • The Glass Key
  • Command Decision
  • Beau Geste
  • Impact
  • Destry Rides Again
  • Wake Island

Ultimately, I am much more familiar with him from his radio romps. Any Donlevy fan can soak up 149 30-minute episodes of his 1949-1951 radio show, 'Dangerous Assignment'. He stars as 'Steve Mitchell' (colorful, two-fisted American operative). It's a fun program built on the James Bond formula but Donlevy lends a lot of hilarity with his quip-ready baritone and the quirky way he delivers his lines. The show roves all over the world as Steve Mitchell pursues foreign miscreants ...who seek to destroy ...our America! Its similar to Herbert Marshall's program, 'The Man Called X' but not at all preachy. Its actually very lively, fast-paced, and with lots of lurid villains.

Now, as for Donlevy being 'hated' I need to see a lot more evidence besides this lone anecdote about him as Markoff). This:

I'm sorry to tell you that I am not at all convinced. He's not Mickey Rooney after all, who apparently really was disliked. You'd better substantiate this malicious gossip or you'll find yourself on latrine duty and reduced rations.

I promise you! ^_^

I don't care what they say, I;ve studied B. Geste & Stagecoach a ton & Donvely really shoulda WALKED DOWN-THE-AISLE as Marko. *Mitchell was afar superior actor, it helped he was in 3-4 films that legendary year of 1939

 

(QUESTION: Whats your favorite *Thomas Mitchell-(l892-l962) role?  MY VOTE *Ford's superb 1940 "LONG VIYAGE HOME" as Driscoll

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The now sadly forgotten character player WILLIAM BENDIX-(l906-64) I rank his finest pur work as an actor 7 there were a couple  But, was only up for the good (***) 1942 WAKE ISLAND?

 

For my $dough$ was 19541'

s DETECTIVE STOIRY"-(snubbed on a 2nd nomination s. actor) & 1942's bully vs Alan Ladd in "The Glass Key"  PLUS of course LIFEBOAT (l944)

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On ‎12‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 11:25 AM, TopBilled said:

I came across this comment about Donlevy that someone wrote online:

"Brian Donlevy is best remembered for BEAU GESTE, THE GREAT MCGINTY and the radio and tv series Dangerous Assignment as Steve Mitchell. He was under contract for a number of years at Paramount. More popular during World War 2 as younger actors were in the service, he continued to perform up to his death. He played heroes and villains and could do comedy. Preston Sturges showcased him best."

YOU ARE

 

5 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Why cant we have more great threads like this, front-and-center in this forum?

TRULY ON THE BALL BUDDY! PLEASE CINSUIDER TAKING A TCM ALL-TIME FAVS IN CINEMA POLL SOMEWDAY, Plus, Jakeem    BUT, to me his sole absolutely superb piece of work!  & THE GLASS KEY

 

MY ALL-TIME FAV CHARASCTER PLAYER OF COURSE IS 93) TIME WINNER *WALTER BRENNAN-(l894-l974) NOW GETTING HEAT ALL OVER THE NET FOR BEING SO CALLED RASCIST???  (P.S. Did you know *"THE GREAT SPENCER TRACY" at first considered himself a character player?

 

BREAKDOWN: My top 4-5 all-timers character players *BRENNAN, WARD BOND-(deserved 2 Oscar shots), *Barry Fitzgerald, & close,likely THOMAS MITCHELL

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

13th of august 2019

another face (1935)
barbary coast (1935) 
two yanks in trinidad (1942)
billy the kid (1941) 
an american romance (1944)
the beginning or the end (1947)
impact (1949)
the quatermass xperiment (1956)
Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 1.55.17 PM.jpeg
the great mcginty (1940)

beau geste (1939)
the glass key (1942)
hangmen also die (1942)
heaven only knows (1947)

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53 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

13th of august 2019


Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 1.55.17 PM.jpeg
the great mcginty (1940)

beau geste (1939)
the glass key (1942)
hangmen also die (1942)
heaven only knows (1947)

Oh boy!  I can't wait to see what TCM Canada will show us instead of Hangmen Also Die. 

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12 minutes ago, skimpole said:

Oh boy!  I can't wait to see what TCM Canada will show us instead of Hangmen Also Die. 

It will probably be something in the Turner library...so my guess is it might be RKO's SLAUGHTER TRAIL (1951).

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  • 2 months later...
On 5/10/2019 at 6:07 PM, TopBilled said:

It will probably be something in the Turner library...so my guess is it might be RKO's SLAUGHTER TRAIL (1951).

So what that the film shown yesterday?

(I watched the Hangman Must Die,  but I'm in the USA).

 

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

So what that the film shown yesterday?

(I watched the Hangman Must Die,  but I'm in the USA).

I just clicked on the Canadian schedule and went back a day. It looks like I was right. Programmers substituted HANGMEN MUST DIE with SLAUGHTER TRAIL.

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 11.27.43 AM.png

Also HEAVEN ONLY KNOWS (1947) was replaced on the Canadian schedule with ALLEGHENY UPRISING (1939):

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 11.30.54 AM.png

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According to William Wellman Brian Donlevy began his day with a morning ritual when preparing to face the cameras on a set:

  • insert dentures
  • don toupee
  • struggle into corset
  • lace up “elevator” shoes. I have seen many of his films, he was widowed by Bela Lugosi's ex wife Lillian
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