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Man on a Tightrope (1953): Is That a Very Young George Maharis? And Who Is That Captain?


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My 15-film Elia Kazan deluxe collection includes the 1953 film Man on a Tightrope, starring Fredric March, Gloria Grahame, Terry Moore, Cameron Mitchell, and Adolphe Menjou.  At about 1:01:17 on the DVD, you can see, in the watchtower with the Communist soldiers (who are watching and being watched by the American soldiers across the river boundary), an actor in close-up whose face seems very familiar, but I can't identify.  He looks like a cross between John Garfield and George Maharis, of Route 66 fame.  Of course Garfield wouldn't be playing a bit role by 1953 -- he was a star.  But could it be Maharis?  He was starting into TV roles at the time, and in his 20s -- about the right age for the guy in the scene.  Or, if it's not Maharis, anyone have any idea who the guy is?  He seems like the sort of actor one would see in 50s crime films or on Peter Gunn, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, or Twilight Zone.

Another actor who looks hauntingly familiar in the film is the "Captain" of the local police detachment, who is ordered by Adophe Menjou to give the circus a travel permit.  He is seen in close-up and with dialogue both before and after 1:12:02.  He is either unidentified by the IMDb and AFI, or identified as "Secret Police Captain"/"S.N.B. Captain" played by Peter Beauvais, a European actor I've never heard of, and who acted in only 3 films, and was primarily a Director; yet his acting voice sounds very American to me, not at all European, and again, he looks like someone I've seen in many TV shows or films from the 1940s through early 1960s, but again I draw a blank.

(Weird rankings in the Communist military/police structure in this film, by the way.  The character identified as "Commissar Sergeant" appears to outrank Captains and Chiefs, from the way he terrorizes them.)

The movie is very good, by the way.  I never even heard of it until two or three months ago -- one of Kazan's lesser-known works.  Good plot, and good acting.  At least a B+ and maybe an A- film.

 

 

 

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OFL, hit play on this clip and within a couple of seconds the scene with the actor playing the communist solider tower guard will appear. 

It sounds as if you're referring to the actor on the left with the cigarette dangling from his mouth. If you are, then no, I guarantee you that that is neither Garfield nor Maharis, and although he does have a vague resemblance to especially Garfield but with a leaner more angular face. 

And in regard to Maharis, the following shot of him was the earliest (youngest) in his career that I could find of him on the internet...

01.George.Maharis.2.signed..jpg

...and I see even less of a resemblance between the actor in question and him than I do with Garfield.

(...too bad the IMDB webpage's cast list for this film is so short, as even those actors playing American soliders in that scene and who were given dialogue are not listed in it, and so I doubt you'll ever find the identity of the actor in question here...my guess, he was probably a local West German extra who was picked up by Kazan during the shoot over there)

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On 3/16/2021 at 1:25 PM, Dargo said:

OFL, hit play on this clip and within a couple of seconds the scene with the actor playing the communist solider tower guard will appear. 

It sounds as if you're referring to the actor on the left with the cigarette dangling from his mouth. If you are, then no, I guarantee you that that is neither Garfield nor Maharis, and although he does have a vague resemblance to especially Garfield but with a leaner more angular face. 

And in regard to Maharis, the following shot of him was the earliest (youngest) in his career that I could find of him on the internet...

01.George.Maharis.2.signed..jpg

...and I see even less of a resemblance between the actor in question and him than I do with Garfield.

(...too bad the IMDB webpage's cast list for this film is so short, as even those actors playing American soliders in that scene and who were given dialogue are not listed in it, and so I doubt you'll ever find the identity of the actor in question here...my guess, he was probably a local West German extra who was picked up by Kazan during the shoot over there)

Thanks for your work on this -- you may well be right, and it may remain an unsolved mystery.

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