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Gilbert Roland - A Latin Performer Unbounded


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*Gilbert Roland* is one of my favorite "presences" in movies. I choose to use that word

instead of "actor" because in this case, the latter word just doesn't fill the space this

man occupied from his early days as a silent movie matinee star, to his unique contributions

as a character performer. You knew Gilbert Roland was in the house the minute he steps

into a scene. He breathes warmth, vitality, humor and a certain human wisdom into roles

that would lie flat in any other hands.

 

If you are unfamiliar with Gilbert Roland and don't stick with him when he first appears, you

might be tempted to see only the "flash" the brilliant smile, the swagger and Latin machismo.

You'd be robbing yourself not to look further. Stick with him, he's often one of the best things in

OK films, and in at least one nearly great film (Anthony Mann's The Furies)---his is the most shining contribution

 

While I continue a mission to find as many photos and/or interesting bits about this

unique actor, I hope all who are curious about or already admire Gilbert Roland,

will take the time to read the TCM Movie Morlock's article linked below.

 

One of the most frequent and eloquent of TCM's Message Board members is Moirafinnie

who contributes many terrific threads and articles in Movie Morlocks. Her latest

spotlights Roland the performer and the man, an actor who's films did not make it

into the present TCM festival on Latinos in Hollywood. This article makes up for it nicely,

pointing out how Roland managed to maintain a long career in a fickle town by avoiding

one of its most persisitent tendencies: type casting. It also inspired me to start a thread

of his own for Roland. Enjoy:

 

http://moviemorlocks.com/2009/05/06/gilbert-roland-amigo/#comment-8389

 

Roland with his on and offscreen amour, Norma Talmage, in the silent days:

GilbertRolandandNormaT-1.jpg

 

And in his more familiar, post WWII days segueing into a remarkable character

performer

gilbertroland-1.jpg

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*The Woman Disputed* (1928) with Norma Talmage. I've never seen any of Roland's pictures

with Norma---has anyone else? This picture seems to illustrate some of that beard growth

Roland had to contend with in his twice daily shaving!

 

GilbertRolandandNormaT-AWomanDis-1.jpg

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> {quote:title=Jenetico wrote:}{quote}

> What were those leather looking bracelets, I saw him wear in a number of his movies??

 

Hi Jenetico,

 

According to Moira's article, it was a sort of trademark accessory Roland devised, no one

is sure yet why or how he chose to adopt them. He also sported a gold chain with a

religious medal.

 

They were effective at drawing attention to his characters, though!

 

gilbertroland-tradmarkwristbands.jpg

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I liked when he walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope in The Big Circus. That was the first time I saw him on film. Of course, it was also the first time I saw Rhonda Fleming on film too, but that should be the subject of another thread.

 

59339.jpg

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> > I liked when he walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope in The Big Circus.

>

> Was it really him? (Not a stunt double, I mean).

 

Yes, but it really wasn't Niagara Falls, unless you count rear screen projection. The suspense mounts as the wind picks up and he loses his balancing pole.

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He also did some trapeze work in that film. It's been so long since I've seen it, I can't recall if he used a stunt double, but I would assume he did. He was a very athletic-looking fellow, quite convincing in the part.

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> Hi Professor Rich!

>

> I've never seen The Big Circus, but I noticed Moira mentioned it, too, in her article.

 

It's a fun movie. I saw it often as a kid, then it seemed to disappear. I'm not a huge fan of circus films, but since this one has a psycho on the loose, it drew me in. Interesting cast too. And did I mention Rhonda Fleming was in it? ;)

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It's a fun movie. I saw it often as a kid, then it seemed to disappear. I'm not a huge fan of circus films, but since this one has a psycho on the loose, it drew me in.

 

A psycho on the loose in a circus? Sounds like one of the main events.

 

Interesting cast too. And did I mention Rhonda Fleming was in it? ;)

 

Yes, Prof, I believe you did mention a certain red head...

 

rhondafleming.jpg

 

Sorry for that pesky table in front of her but it's the only still from

The Big Circus I could find with Rhonda. Seated with her is Kathryn Grant.

rhondafleming13.jpg

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Thanks for that clip---I just know I saw that TV-movie as a kid---I really loved Zorro

and watched any movie that featured him. But I never saw the Tyrone Power or

Doug Fairbanks versions until I was a grown-up (sort of). I can see Gilbert always

gave his all to any role, Television, bit part, anything. He never phones in his work

and it elevates everything.

 

Have you seen any of his Cisco Kids?

 

Thanks again.

 

Message was edited by: MissGoddess

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> {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> > Have you seen any of his Cisco Kids?

>

> No. How many kids did he have? ;)

 

Six Cisco Kids....not great dramas, but he's alot of fun in these:

 

*The Gay Cavalier* (1946)

*South of Monterey* (1946)

*Beauty and the Bandit* (1946)

*King of the Bandits* (1947)

*Robin Hood of Monterey* (1947)

*Riding the California Trail* (1947)

 

 

...and two girls in real life by *Constance Bennett*, Lorinda and Gyl, both of whom have acted in movies occasionally.

 

Thanks to Miss G. for her very generous remarks about the blog. I think that Gilbert Roland was a great surprise, the more I learned about him.

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> {quote:title=moirafinnie6 wrote:}{quote}

> *The Gay Cavalier* (1946)

> *South of Monterey* (1946)

> *Beauty and the Bandit* (1946)

> *King of the Bandits* (1947)

> *Robin Hood of Monterey* (1947)

> *Riding the California Trail* (1947)

>

 

I hope TCM can show these one of these days, if they can get their hands of the rights. They sound like fun movies. :D

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Gilbert with Clara Bow in Call Her Savage

GilbertClarita-CALLHERSAVAGE.jpg

 

Gilbert with Mae West in She Done Him Wrong

GilbertMaeW-SHEDONEHIMWRONG.jpg

 

GilbertMaeW-SHEDONEHIMWRONG2.jpg

 

GR with Peter Lorre (foreground) in The Bid Circus

Gilbert-PeterLorre-THEBIGCIRCUS.jpg

 

Honey bunch!!! :x

Gilbert-profile.jpg

 

GR with Helen Gilbert and John Howard in 1942's Isle of Missing Men...just across

the bay from the Island of Doomed Men :D

GilbertHelenGilbertJohnHoward-Isleo.jpg

 

Drooley!! with Mike Romanoff and Ginger Rogers (below) at the Motion

Picture Tennis Championships. Look how well dressed they are for tennis!!!

gilbertMikeRomanoff-MotionPicTennis.jpg

 

gilbertginger-MotionPicTennisChampi.jpg

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I?ve got a soft spot in my heart for Gilbert Roland b/c of his friendship with Clara Bow. They were briefly engaged around 1925 and after they split up remained good friends until their deaths. In Clara?s last years she lived a pretty reclusive lifestyle and apart from family, Gilbert was one of the few people she would visit with in her home. Back in the days before email ;), they would write letters back and forth and he?d tell her about all the goings on while filming in different locations and such as that. In David Stenn?s bio of Clara they included one of the most lovely, heartfelt letters I?ve ever read from Gilbert to Clara in the 50s (I think). He talked about how it still tickled him to watch *The Plastic Age* which they made together in ?25 when he was her beau and she was his sweetheart. I think he was in Spain at the time and he said he stopped at one of the beautiful cathedrals and lit a candle and said a prayer for her happiness. You could really feel the genuine friendly affection between them and with so many people mistreating her throughout her life, I?m glad she had him as a friend.

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Hi Angie! If you read that article Moirafinnie wrote that I linked to in my original post, she includes some of that letter I believe you're referring to....I was deeply moved by it, too.

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Gilbert and Ricardo Montalban in MARK OF THE RENEGADE

gilbertricardo-MARKOFTHERENEGADE.jpg

 

The flashy "machista" look Gilbert adopted in some of his 1950s supproting roles...

gilbert-macho.jpg

 

I prefer this more clean-cut look...

gilbert1951.jpg

 

looking tough with Millard Mitchell, Harry Morgan and Marshall Thompson in

the intriguingly named MY SIX CONVICTS

gilbertmillardmitchellharrymorgan-M.jpg

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He has a lovely supporting role in Anthony Mann's The Furies (around 1950). He's the childhood friend of Barbara Stanwyck and the only person who really understands her. Beautiful scene between Roland and Stanwyck.

 

This film is little known, even with Stanwyck and cult director Anthony Mann, but it's outstanding. Walter Huston as Stanwyck's father, Wendell Corey as her love interest (sort of), Blanche Yurka as a tough mama, and Judith Anderson as the stepmother Stanwyck hates. See this if you can!

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