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A Tribute To Slimy Dan


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Not much doubt about that. Dan got the lead in a few features in the '50s (as well as 1946's Black Angel) though they tended to be "B" productions. He never graduated to the leading man status that Widmark would enjoy for while in major productions, particularly during the '50s.

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*Thanks to clore's recommendation, I was finally able to catch up with a Dan Duryea film I had never seen before, Underworld Story.*

 

I'm glad that you liked it. Speaking of similarities between Duryea and Widmark...

 

You may be familiar with a show that ran in the 50s titled THE 20TH CENTURY-FOX HOUR. Most of the episodes were remakes of successful Fox feature films (often using footage from the films). When they got around to doing a remake of RED SKIES OF MONTANA, it was Dan Duryea in the role originally played by Widmark.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0501924/combined

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Thanks for the information, clore. That's news to me, as I'm sure it probably is for most others.

 

Here's a shot of a Dapper Dan, along with a sexy Yvonne de Carlo, from Paramount's Criss Cross:

 

yvonnedecarlodanduryeac.jpg

 

It's been a few years since I saw this one but memory tells me that it was a pretty good film noir effort.

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Once, when asked who his favourite actress had been as a co-star, Dan Duryea replied, "?Joan Bennett . . . she was a true professional and so easy to work with in the two films we made with Eddie Robinson: The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street ? and I found her very attractive and before you ask, Hedda, no, I did not have an ?affair? with her or any other of my co-stars ? for one very good reason: I was very happily married and never broke my vows.?

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Sorry Tom, CRISS CROSS was a Universal film, not Paramount. I picked up the DVD about a year ago. A retailer here had a sale on MCA films and oddly enough, I picked that one up along with MADIGAN starring Richard Widmark.

 

I wouldn't mind seeing the Paramount film MANHANDLED again. It has Dan along with Sterling Hayden and Dorothy Lamour and I've not seen it since 1990 or so - back when AMC was worth watching.

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Thanks for the correction, clore. Duly noted, Criss Cross is a Universal. As I said, it's been a while since I saw it.

 

There's a brief writeup of Manhandled on this thread that I did on October 8th. The film has a strong performance from Duryea, in my opinion, and one particular scene set in a back alley that stands out. Now this film IS a Paramount.

 

ManhandledLobby.jpg

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I have a vague recollection of the short-lived CHINA SMITH series on TV. There, Dan was a rascal who lived on the fringes of the law, but he wasn't a bad guy.

 

Contrast that with CRISS CROSS. With all the villains he played, that one takes the cake. As Slim Dundee he's just vicious, with no charm at all. I'm not complaining -- Dan was great in that movie. And the last scene is unforgettable.

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I have to catch up with Criss Cross again some time. It's a film that I really can't remember EXCEPT for the last scene, a classic moment in film noir bleakness that has always stayed with me.

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James, how do you feel about Yvonne's character in Criss Cross? Is she really a femme fatale in the same way as Jane Greer / Kathy in Out Of the Past? Kathy is 100% the femme fatale, she's poison to any man she gets involved with. Use them and dump them, that's Kathy's motto. Yvonne's Anna is a different story , I think. She really seems conflicted in her feelings towards her men, and she really didn't push Burt into going criminal. That was his bright idea. She got involved with our man Dan (the subject of this thread) but soon got to fear him and wanted to get away from him. When our ole' buddy Burt comes back to town I'm not sure if Anna really loves him again or just sees him as a means to get away from "Slimy Slim " Duryea. In any event Burt plays the sucker (as he and Mitchum both often did) and gets himself in a trap he can't escape from. We might also compare Duryea's Slim to Kirk Douglas' Whit character. Whit ends up being another victim to the evil Kathy but I don't see Slim being manipulated by Anna at all.

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Lancaster goes back to his old flame, Anna, and explains why:

 

"You're smoking a cigarette and you get a piece of tobacco stuck in your teeth. So you use a bit of cellophane to try to get it out. What happens? The cellophane gets stuck too. Anna."

 

What great writing!

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Anna is what I call an accidental femme fatale; a women that does indeed trap the noir protagonist but not on purpose. A women that isn't a "bad girl" at heart. Kathie is a classic femme fatale.

 

Anna only hooks up with Duryea because she is bored and lonely. So to me Anna is more like Liz Scott in I Walk Alone. I mention Liz since we talked about how Liz is often mistaken as a classic femme fatale when in most of her noir movies she isn't (she is that accidental femme fatale) . In fact her most classic femme fatale role is with Duryea in Too Late for Tears.

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An "accidental femme fatale", I'll have to remember that . Sort of like Curly Howard's " I'm a victim of circumstance" line. I'll also have to remember that Jane Greer's character is "Kathie" not "Kathy". Too many ways to spell that name.

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For the record, I had to look up the credits for Out of the Past to ensure I got it right. I was fairly sure Kathy wasn't correct but I wasn't exactly sure how it was spelled. Yes, too many different ways to spell a name that all sound the same!

 

Anyone that can bring Curly Howard into a discussion on film noir is cool in my book!

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Well, James, I followed up on your suggestion, and dug out my old DVD copy of Criss Cross. It's a first rate film noir drama, even if there is a feeling of familiarity about its plot and characters.

 

I agree with your assessment about Yvonne de Carlo's character not being a true femme fatale like Jane Greer in Out of the Past (or Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, for that matter).

 

SPOILER ALERT about the ending:

 

At the end I found it possible to regard all three principal characters in the film to be victims to varying degrees. It's most obvious, of course, in the case of Burt Lancaster, trapped by his desire for a woman in true film noir tradition. De Carlo, at the end, yes, she's going to run out on Burt (it's a bit ambiguous as to whether she really loves him) but she's doing it from fear of losing her life.

 

"Well, people get hurt" she says to Lancaster as she is about to take off, leaving him behind, "I can't help it if people don't know how to take care of themselves." (Meaning Lancaster). Okay, she's thinking about her skin but that just makes her human in the last scene, not evil. She might not be admirable but she's not so bad that she deserves to die.

 

My surprise in watching the final scene, however, were the feelings of conflict I had in observing Dan Duryea and the delivery of his dialogue. He's got the gun in his hand and he's about to do what a person who lives by a street code feels bound to do to anyone who ever double crosses him.

 

But it's what Duryea says to Lancaster in the final scene and how he says it than made me think that Dan's character, too, is a victim.

 

Duryea speaks softly, as if he is quietly resigned to what he must now do.

 

"You always wanted her, didn't you?," he says, "You really loved her."

 

There's a pause.

 

"You know, I did, too," he adds.

 

Duryea sounds like a man emphathizing with Lancaster, understanding why he had done what he had. The two men have something in common, their mutual love of de Carlo.

 

"But you won out," he continues, "You've got her."

 

"She's all yours now," Duryea softly says as he levels his gun at them and de Carlo lets out a scream as Lancaster (just as in The Killers) is resigned to his fate.

 

Duryea's final words before he pulls the trigger are spoken gently.

 

"Hold her," he tells Lancaster, " Hold her tight."

 

Duryea almost sounds sad.

 

Criss Cross ends with a cold blooded double murder performed by a man who had loved and been betrayed by one victim and understands the emotional entrapment of the other one. It brings an oddly affecting and unexpected dimension to that scene which I think is one of the classic moments of film noir.

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS3m3ZO588nJ9FmxbJndJZ

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Very good observations about Slim Dundee in his last scene.

 

The nightmarish holdup scene in CRISS CROSS was well done. The tear gas making everything murky, people emerging from the clouds of gas and shooting their supposed accomplices -- the film's title was fully justified. When there are triple crosses, not mere double crosses, it makes the plot even more delicious. (It's reminiscent of THE KILLERS, in which the triple cross theme was in the screenplay, not in Hemingway's short short story.)

 

Take note of Yvonne DeCarlo's dancing partner in the opening scene of CC. He's an excellent dancer with no dialogue. This was his movie debut, and his name doesn't appear in the credits. It's Tony Curtis.

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Yes, faceinthecrowd, the holdup scene in Criss Cross is well staged. There is chaos within that cloud of gas encompassing all the participants. With those guns firing there is a feeling that almost anything can happen.

 

Then, in the midst of it, you see Duryea, with a gas mask on, cold bloodedly execute "Pop," the elderly security guard.

 

Duryea does not attempt to bring any of the charm to this characterization that he could bring to other villains in his career, possibly the most noteworthy example being Waco Johnny Dean in Winchester '73.

 

Duryea plays all his scenes in Criss Cross with an icy calm. The one moment in the film in which his character acts impulsively (pulling a knife on Lancaster) you only hear about it through the dialogue. You don't actually see it.

 

The film is presented through Lancaster's viewpoint as he is the focal point of the drama. But while the dialogue makes it clear that to cross Duryea's Slim Dundee can be deadly, the actor portrays him as one cool, calculating customer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have just spent an enjoyable morning reading through this thread. Dan Duryea is my favorite non-musical actor (sorry, when it comes to singing Dan just can't compare to Nelson Eddy and Bing Crosby!). No one was ever like Dan D. when it came to bad guys --- or anything.

 

Personally, my favorite roles are:

Whitey Kincade in "Ride Clear of Diablo"

Mike Reese in "The Underworld Story"

Cliff Grundy in "The Cliff Grundy Story" (Wagon Train episode)

 

I have run the *Dan Duryea Central* website for over a year, and it has been pretty fun to see how many other people enjoy the fabulous Mr. Duryea! By the way, I have moved my website from the blog that has been linked here to actual web pages. The new site is: *http://www.sarahbethonline.com/danduryea/*

 

I agree with everyone here that TCM should release a few more Duryea films. Personally, I would like to see "White Tie and Tails" and "World for Ransom". Come on TCM and get those DVDs released! ;)

 

Edited by: BingandNelsonFan on Nov 27, 2013 9:29 AM

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BingandNelsonFan, welcome to the TCM message boards and congratulations on your terrific website, Dan Duryea Central, as well as providing a new link for it.

 

All Duryea fans should take a look at the great effort you put into it, as well as that wonderful montage of clips of Duryea films lovingly done by your sister, which appears on your home page.

 

I'm glad you enjoyed our own tribute to Slimy Dan here, as well. I borrowed some of the information and photos from your website for some of my tidbits here, but I did make a point of crediting your site when doing so.

 

I'm hopelessly confused when it comes to the issue of which photos are and aren't permissible to copy from some internet sites. I now notice that the pix I copied from your website are blocked here. Sorry if I infringed upon any copyrights there. Call it the Dan Duryea in me, borrowing something without asking.

 

You may have noticed some earlier speculation in this thread about the possibility of Duryea either playing the Tommy Udo role in Kiss of Death, or the dream creep teaming that never took place on screen, our Dan with Richard "Giggles" Widmark.

 

So about about this one now for casting, BingandNelsonFan, Duryea in a mountie uniform singing an Indian love call in the Canadian wilderness with Jeanette MacDonald? Only this mountie slaps her across her prima donna face when she starts to get uppity with him! And she loves it! Or how about Duryea sharing a ride on the back of a camel with a certain popular '40s crooner, for some of the zanniest comedy hijinks of that decade in the movies?

 

Okay, okay, I thought so. I should have stuck with Widmark.

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BingandNelsonfan, I just spent some time over at the new Dan Duryea site and it is really nice, a lot of effort went into that and it is greatly appreciated. Unfortunately I see that some of the items have been blocked just like some of the pictures on this thread are now removed. Its unfortunate that with all of the recent inane rulings by the Supreme Court they can't do something about these overly restrictive copyright rules. Oh well. This TCM thread has been a lot of fun, we need more of this type of discussion here instead of some of the looney stuff. I don't believe you listed the Dan Duryea Twilight Zone episode yet, you may have noticed that we got into that a little here. I have to believe that is the most well known tv work done by Dan.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi, again! I'm sorry for not replying sooner. I lost my link to this discussion and have just now been able to find it again. :) For some reason, when you search for "Dan Duryea" in the message boards, this topic wouldn't come up.

 

I really appreciate all of the kind words about Dan Duryea Central. A lot of time and work has gone into that --- and still working. Cleaning all of the photos in Photoshop is time consuming, because some of them have been in pretty rough shape. As far as content being blocked, I'm assuming it is some of the videos. That is mostly due to the fact that my sister and I have removed our YouTube channels (which removes videos at the same time). I'm working on being able to get an embed code for the website that will work on files hosted on our server! ;)

 

As for photos, I am very happy that people are enjoying them. That is what they are there for.

 

Since posting before, I don't know if anyone has seen the new book about "Dastardly Dan the Hatchet Man". It is called "Duryea: The Movies" by Joseph Fusco. I heartily recommend it to all of you other Duryea fans. It's exciting that he's finally remembered in print!

 

Thanks for mentioning Dan appearance in "The Twilight Zone". I do have a photo or two for that and have been planning on cleaning them up. That may be his most remembered TV role, but my personal favorite is "The Cliff Grundy Story" for "Wagon Train". Can't beat that, in my opinion. Not your typical Duryea, though.

 

Regards,

Sarah

 

P.S.

I got a good laugh about the crooning Mountie who slaps poor Jeanette in the face! As bad as it sounds, there are two classic actors that I like even better than Mr. Duryea: Bing Crosby and Nelson Eddy. Of course, they were always the good guys . . .

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