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Dan Duryea


cigarjoe
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I adore Duryea!

He was so slimey and slippery in so many roles, but I still like him best as the ne'er-do-well, Leo in "The Little Foxes". Loved watching his lanky blonde locks keep falling down over his venal face. That role seemed to set his course in later films as being money grubbing, insincere, sniveling and so many other bad habits that probably paid him well in films, since he could do that kind of part better than anybody. Partially I think because he doesn't look tough, unless he is holding a gun or something but he is always so great at being banal yet also crooked.

Interestingly I found an old "Good Housekeeping" magazine from the 1940's at my aunt's recently that had a whole article about what a great family man Duryea was, and so unlike his scummy screen characters. Later in his career, when he played the town drunk in a "Twilight Zone" episode, he was quite memorable too.

Wonderful topic and nice tribute to Duryea's acting talents!

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Waco Johnny Dean in Winchester 73

Duryea brought charm as well as sleazy strut to the role of this western badman. He was also smart enough to know when to bid his time when he encountered someone who may be a bit tougher than him.

One of my favourite dialogue exchanges in the film is between Duryea and Shelley Winters, capturing the inflated ego of his character through humour.

Winters: "Yeh, I know who you are, Waco Johnny Dean, the fastest gun in Texas."

"Texas?" Duryea replies, "Lady, why limit me?"

Duryea,%20Dan%20(Winchester%2073)%20(2).

But I also particularly like, in complete contrast,  Duryea's performance in Too Late For Tears. He plays his usual woman slapping heel in this one, but there's an unexpected vulnerability here when he falls for a woman he eventually realizes is far more cold blooded than he is. Dan's character turns into a drinker because he is, essentially, a chiseller who turns out to be a weakling. Duryea makes it a memorable turn.

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My top 5 Dan Duryea performances (again, looking at his acting, not necessarily the picture as a whole):

1. ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST (1948)...he had also been in THE LITTLE FOXES. This time he's playing a different, but still related, character. He just nails it.

2. TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949)...he and Lizabeth Scott are a perfect film noir "couple."

3. RIVER LADY (1948)...I think it's his best western role. It's a rare leading part for him. He makes the most of it. 

4. WINCHESTER '73 (1950)...he almost steals the picture from the leads. He plays a different character in the 1967 TV movie remake.

5. INCIDENT AT PHANTOM HILL (1966)...one of his later roles; proves he still has it when it comes to playing bad guys out west. An advantage here is that he's more seasoned as an actor, so he's not chewing the scenery so much, and gives a very nuanced portrayal of a villain.

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Not a response to your question, but I purchased the Route 66 TV series DVD's some time back.  There are some that I watch frequently.  Two have Dan Duryea and both episodes are fairly interesting. In one he is an alcoholic guardian of his niece and in the other he plays an old bank robber returning to the scene of his long ago crime.  He does both roles well.  Overall a nice guy with a history roles.

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Not counting his Western "bad men" characters

Seen

Ministry of Fear (1944)

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Scarlet Street (1945)

Black Angel (1946)

Criss Cross (1949)

Manhandled (1949)

Too Late for Tears (1949)

Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)

World for Ransom (1954)

The Burglar (1957)

Slaughter on 10th Avenue (1957)

Seen but don't remember him in them.

Lady on a Train (1945)

Storm Fear (1955)

look interesting but have never seen them

Main Street After Dark (1945)

Larceny (1948)

One Way Street (1950)

Terror Street (1953)

 

 

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2 hours ago, TomJH said:

Waco Johnny Dean in Winchester 73

Duryea brought charm as well as sleazy strut to the role of this western badman. He was also smart enough to know when to bid his time when he encountered someone who may be a bit tougher than him.

One of my favourite dialogue exchanges in the film is between Duryea and Shelley Winters, capturing the inflated ego of his character through humour.

Winters: "Yeh, I know who you are, Waco Johnny Dean, the fastest gun in Texas."

"Texas?" Duryea replies, "Lady, why limit me?"

Duryea,%20Dan%20(Winchester%2073)%20(2).

Dang Tom, I was gonna mention this one of Dan's. Always one of my favorites of his, too.

(...btw, ever consider the thought that there's a whole lot in common between Dan's Waco Johnny Dean character in this western and with that of Doug Jr.'s Rupert of Hentzau in the Zenda flick?...I'll bet you have, huh) ;)

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In answer to roles where Dan was his "slipperiest, slimiest, sleazeball":  I also have to go with Winchester '73.

Another noir that isn't mentioned often where Dan plays a sleaze and really pulls one over sweet Dorothy Lamour is Manhandled.    He is such a charming slimball in this one.

As far as my favorite films that Dan was in:

The Little Foxes,  Ball of Fire,  The Pride of the Yankees, Sahara, Along Came Jones, Scarlett Street,  Criss Cross,  Too Late for Tears,  Winchester '73 and World for Ransom.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Dang Tom, I was gonna mention this one of Dan's. Always one of my favorites of his, too.

(...btw, ever consider the thought that there's a whole lot in common between Dan's Waco Johnny Dean character in this western and with that of Doug Jr.'s Rupert of Hentzau in the Zenda flick?...I'll bet you have, huh) ;)

I can't say that I ever thought of Johnny Wade and Rupert as similar, Dargo, but now that you mention it I can see your point. One thing for sure, both of these smooth, ruthless, egotistical scoundrels are great scene stealing roles for the right actor to have, and with Duryea and Fairbanks (in the '37 version of Zenda) they certainly had the right actors.

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9 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

I haven't even been able to start reading the posts yet because I'm mesmerized by SpeedRacer's moving avatar. Is that a first for these message boards? (And I still can't even successfully load a damn still pic!)

I didn't even know that it would work! I figured it would just freeze on the first frame of the pic and that'd be it. But nope! Animated gifs are apparently allowed as profile pics.

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46 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

Hands down it has to be Scarlet Street. That role fit his screen persona like a glove.

I didn't pick this one because I didn't think he had enough screen time to be as effective as he is in his other films. Especially when he's the lead or has a supporting role that figures more into the action.

But I agree, what we do see of him in SCARLET STREET is quite good. It's just he's overshadowed by Robinson & Bennett at every turn. Ultimately it's their picture not his.

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16 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I didn't pick this one because I didn't think he had enough screen time to be as effective as he is in his other films. Especially when he's the lead or has a supporting role that figures more into the action.

But I agree, what we do see of him in SCARLET STREET is quite good. It's just he's overshadowed by Robinson & Bennett at every turn. Ultimately it's their picture not his. 

I see your point but (SPOILERS AHEAD! I MEAN IT!!)  he was just so great as such a sleazy ill tempered guy. When he burns for something he did not do, it is rather ironic because everything about him, including his own testimony makes him seem like the person who would have killed Bennett's character. Instead it is the mild mannered naive bank teller played by Robinson who does this one violent deed in his whole life, actually two if you count him letting Duryea die for a murder he committed, and nobody suspects him or even believes him when he confesses after the execution.

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On 9/25/2018 at 8:12 AM, calvinnme said:

I see your point but (SPOILERS AHEAD! I MEAN IT!!) but he was just so great as such a sleazy ill tempered guy. When he burns for something he did not do, it is rather ironic because everything about him, including his own testimony makes him seem like the person who would have killed Bennett's character. Instead it is the mild mannered naive bank teller played by Robinson who does this one violent deed in his whole life, actually two if you count him letting Duryea die for a murder he committed, and nobody suspects him or even believes him when he confesses after the execution.

Another reason I didn't pick this film and it's also why I didn't pick THE LITTLE FOXES is that he seems too young and too unformed as an actor. His instincts are brilliant and he makes a great impression in these early films, but he is clearly in the shadows of the more established stars at this point of his career...he's so young and his movie persona hasn't been fully formed yet.

I don't think he really matures until his postwar films, then it's like he goes from supporting to lead overnight. And even when he still has supporting roles like in CRISS CROSS or TOO LATE FOR TEARS, it feels like he's on even footing with actors who are billed over him. But in those early films you can tell the studio and the director see him as secondary, even though he's really making the most of the secondary characters he plays.

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Another reason I didn't pick this film and it's also why I didn't pick THE LITTLE FOXES is that he feels too young and too unformed as an actor. His instincts are brilliant and he makes a great impression in these early films, but he is clearly in the shadows of the more established stars at this point of his career...he's so young and his movie persona hasn't been fully formed yet.

I don't think he really matures until his postwar films, then it's like he goes from supporting to lead overnight. And even when he still has supporting roles like in CRISS CROSS or TOO LATE FOR TEARS, it feels like he's on even footing with actors who are billed over him. But in those early films you can tell the studio and the director see him as secondary, even though he's really making the most of the secondary characters he plays.

One could say Dan was lucky in that at the start of his career he was a supporting player in many first rate productions, most being Oscar nominated films:   Little Foxes,  Ball of Fire,  The Pride of the Yankees, Sahara, Mrs. Parkington, and Ministry of Fear (and one could add Grant's None but the Lonely Heart).

Later on he was cast as the secondary male or co-male lead (mostly in noir films),  and in the 50s as the male lead, often in a western.

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14 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

One could say Dan was lucky in that at the start of his career he was a supporting player in many first rate productions, most being Oscar nominated films:   Little Foxes,  Ball of Fire,  The Pride of the Yankees, Sahara, Mrs. Parkington, and Ministry of Fear (and one could add Grant's None but the Lonely Heart).

Later on he was cast as the secondary male or co-male lead (mostly in noir films),  and in the 50s as the male lead, often in a western.

The start of his motion picture career was helped immeasurably by having signed a contract with Sam Goldwyn. That meant prestigious "A" pictures. But Goldwyn never had any intention of developing movies around him, because Goldwyn was too busy propping up Gary Cooper. 

It wasn't until Duryea went to Universal that he was able to become a bonafide star in his own films. Those tended to be in noir and westerns, though he did make pictures in other genres.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Incident at Phantom Hill, 1966

 

It has been a very long time since I've seen this but Duryea has one of the most memorable film lines that I have ever heard:

 

"You don't murder an Indian, Hanneford. You just kill him. Like you shoot a rabbit or stepping on a bug."

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