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Another "appreciation" thread...THIS time the under-appreciated Victor Mature


Dargo
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(okay, and before we get started here, let me just say that I, as the thread's originator, don't give a rodent's rear-end if somebody wants to sidetrack this thread somewhere along the line for a while AND/OR make fun its subject, Mr. Mature, such as in the case of the guy who's picture I use as my avatar(that would be Groucho) once making a joke about Victor's "k nockers" being bigger than Hedy Lamarr's, and/or in that vein, 'cause I LIKE humor of ALL sorts, and I DON'T think anything and everything I say around here should be treated as some kind of "sacrosanct" material...but yeah, that's just ME...and so now that I've gotten THAT out of the way....) LOL

 

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While watching "I Wake Up Screaming" the other evening, it occurred to me how versatile an actor Victor Mature truly was. In the case of this film, playing with such ease and naturalness the glib entertainment promoter who's under suspicion of murder.

 

And then there was his turn as Doc Holliday in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine", and of which studio head Darryl F, Zanuck once sent word to Ford of being pleased that he had cast Mature in his picture with the following words:

 

"Personally, I think the guy has been one of the most under-rated performers in Hollywood. The public is crazy about him and strangely enough every picture that he has been in has been a big box-office hit. Yet the Romanoff round table has refused to take him seriously as an actor. A part like Doc Holiday will be sensational for him and I agree with you that the peculiar traits of his personality are ideal for a characterisation such as this."

 

Add to these thoughts that Mature would be very well cast and acquit himself quite well in many of the better Noir films such as "Kiss of Death" and "Cry of the City", AND be as believable as anyone COULD be in many of the "sword and sandal" epics, and I think this goes a long way in proving my point about his versatility.

 

And while you'd never what to see him attempt the title role of The Bard's "Hamlet", I think Mature's seemingly natural ability to express real human emotions on his face, from anger to joy and many emotions between those two, SHOULD give rise to the thought that he was more than just "Beefcake".

 

(...oh, and I LOVE the story of his wonderful self-deprecating humor and an example of which that goes that when told he was rejected for admission into a certain country club because he was an actor, his reply was reportedly: I'm not an actor...and I've got sixty-four films to prove it!"...yep, my kinda guy...no pretentiousness at all)

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Well, Dargo, Victor Mature, as we all know, appeared in more than his fair share of clunkers, particularly as his career progressed after the 1940s. But you've listed a number of the key films and performances of this actor who was usually dismissed as pure beefcake by the critics during his time.

 

I wonder if you've managed to see a very little known 1957 British crime drama in which he starred, THE LONG HAUL. As soon as you hear that it's British you probably suspect that he made it there because his Hollywood career was in a bit of trouble. Britain and Europe, in general, is where a lot of the former big Hollywood studio names headed when things started getting rough for them in America.

 

But this one, which aired on TCM about a year ago or so, and which I had absolutely never heard of, caught my attention. It's a beautifully photographed black-and-white British film noir drama, with Mature cast as an honest truck driver, with a wife and kid, who has a hard time making a living, and finds himself caught up, entirely against his will, with mobsters in the business. He also encounters British bombshell Diana Dors, whom he at first resists, before having a brief one night stand with her. It just happens, and it's still his wife that he's crazy about, but there will be ramifications for him for tumbling to the lady's charms (of course).

 

I won't bother with any more of the plot (it's been a little too long since I saw the film to recall much more of it anyway) but I was surprised at how much this gritty, punchy little drama seized my attention. Mature's character is a classic film noir victim - caught up in a web against his wishes, unable to get out of a bad situation that gets him entangled with hoods within the trucking business.

 

And the reason why I think this little film works so well is because of Mature's performance. This is a very straight forward, serious performance by him (none of the smirking and ego of a lot of his Hollywood work from his early days here). Mature is totally convincing as a decent, likable guy with a code of honour (in spite of that one nighter with Dors which only makes him human). I found myself really rooting for Mature in this film, and was caught up in it right to the finish because of that.

 

Surprisingly, Dors does NOT play a tramp. Her character is actually quite sympathetic because she cares about Mature, as well, and doesn't want any harm to come to him (which, believe me, with the thugs in this film, is far from guranteed). She, unfortunately, though, has a creep for a boyfriend.

 

Finally, THE LONG HAUL has a terrific musical score which really helps to carry us along with the action.

 

So there ya go, Dargo, old boy, a Vic Mature film nobody's talks about that deserves recognition, particularly for those who like film noir and want to make a case that Mature was, as you say, an under appreciated talent. I hope that TCM shows it again sometime so you can make your own assessment in case you missed it the last time it was on.

 

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The poster emphasizes Diana Dors for obvious reasons, but it's Victor Mature's character and performance which is the heart of the picture.

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The Long Haul is probably Mature's best role, but he's also very good in I Wake Up Screaming,  Kiss of Death and Cry of the City.  Like many actors, he was for the most part about as good as his material allowed him to be, and in these four noirs in particular he was perfectly suited for the parts.

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Thanks for the heads-up Tom(and Andy). I'll keep my eyes peeled for "The Long Haul" when and if TCM shows it again. It does indeed sound interesting and one I don't believe I've ever caught.

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I'd cite The Long Haul as one prime example out of many hundreds in support of the point that you can't fully appreciate TCM unless you go over the upcoming schedules with a fine tooth comb, and zero in on the titles you're not familiar with.  At least when it comes to previously unknown noirs, silents, and foreign films, for me the "success" rate in following that strategy is close to 90%.

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The Long Haul is probably Mature's best role, but he's also very good in I Wake Up Screaming,  Kiss of Death and Cry of the City.  Like many actors, he was for the most part about as good as his material allowed him to be, and in these four noirs in particular he was perfectly suited for the parts.

I don't think I've seen enough Mature films to say what was or wasn't his best role or performance. However, for an actor who said he was no actor, Mature gives a strong and highly professional account of himself as the truck driver in The Long Haul.

 

People have may have snickered at him a bit from his One Million B.C. period would not only see Mature's versatility by comparing his performance in that film to the one in this British film noir effort, but also note his significant growth as an actor.

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MOVIES has been showing I Wake Up Screaming a lot (enough where the wife said to be ‘you’re watching that again!’).       The best parts of the movie are when Cregar and Mature go at each other.  

 

Mature could be low key but when necessary he could bring a lot of life to a scene.    

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I also watched THE LONG HAUL about a year ago on TCM. Very good noir, sorry I didn't tape it. Would really like to see this one again, hopefully it will scheduled again and highly recommend it not just for Mature and Dors,(they were very good in it) but it's a very attention grabbing film. Good post Tom

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Back in 1972, Burt Reynolds was one of the first (maybe THE first) "hunk" to appear as a male nude centerfold in a mainstream magazine (Cosmopolitan, I believe). I remember him saying on The Tonight Show, "That's not my body. That's Victor Mature's body - he wasn't using it anymore".

 

I have to admit that I've never had a high opinion of Victor Mature as an actor, though he was always instantly recognizable to me after the first time I really noticed him - that was in 'The Big Circus' when I was 9.

 

My favorite Victor Mature movie for years has been 'After the Fox' (1966).

 

This is a timely thread inasmuch as he can be seen this Sunday night on TCM in one of his very last performances in the movie version of Evan Hunter's 'Every Little Crook and Nanny' (1972).

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(okay, and before we get started here, let me just say that I, as the thread's originator, don't give a rodent's rear-end if somebody wants to sidetrack this thread somewhere along the line for a while AND/OR make fun its subject, Mr. Mature, such as in the case of the guy who's picture I use as my avatar(that would be Groucho) once making a joke about Victor's "k nockers" being bigger than Hedy Lamarr's, and/or in that vein, 'cause I LIKE humor of ALL sorts, and I DON'T think anything and everything I say around here should be treated as some kind of "sacrosanct" material...but yeah, that's just ME...and so now that I've gotten THAT out of the way....) LOL

 

c0bffad0b767ca22d755cdfeef1a6266.jpgIt sounds like Dargo  is a pretty easy going guy, one who doesn't get offended easily.  ---  Maybe if I call him an "upstart"  ...   ;)  Anyway, I agree with your take on Victor Mature, when given the good material he can deliver. KISS OF DEATH is a favorite of mine. When that film gets discussed its almost always about Richard Widmark and his crazy Tommy Udo character. As big a Widmark fan as I am I will admit he is a little over the top (I believe he was strongly encouraged to act so). But not to sidetrack here; Victor  gives a great performance as the brooding con Nick Bianco who desperately wants the chance to go straight and take care of his kids.  Nick is even willing to be a stoolie at personal risk to get out of prison to start a new life and rebuild his family. Mature's performance is very human and sincere, running a wide range of emotions. I think his acting is the best part of the film.

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It sounds like Dargo  is a pretty easy going guy, one who doesn't get offended easily.  ---  Maybe if I call him an "upstart"  ...   ;)

 

 

LOL

 

duck-soup.jpeg

 

"Sure! Go ahead and see what happens, big fella!" ;)

 

(...btw Mr.R, thanks for your thoughts about "Kiss of Death"...GREAT point!...I agree...while Widmark's is the flashier performance, Mature actually carries the picture) 

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LOL

 

duck-soup.jpeg

 

"Sure! Go ahead and see what happens, big fella!" ;)

 

(...btw Mr.R, thanks for your thoughts about "Kiss of Death"...GREAT point!...I agree...while Widmark's is the flashier performance, Mature actually carries the picture) 

I don't see anything in this thread touting Mature for SOTM, which is surprising, since virtually everyone else has been pushed for SOTM status on these boards.

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I don't see anything in this thread touting Mature for SOTM, which is surprising, since virtually everyone else has been pushed for SOTM status on these boards.

 

Hmmmm....ya know finance, you're right.

 

And sooooooooo....

 

HEY TCM!!! ARE YA LISTENIN' HERE?! HOW ABOUT VIC GETTIN' A SOTM TREATMENT, HUH???!!!

 

(...I ain't gonna hold my breathe though...I know JUST how slowly the wheels turn around this place)

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I agree Victor Mature.was highly underrated as an actor. He was great in all the noirs here mentioned, as well as others. But he could do well in any genre, including comedies and musicals. I think he was an asset in those technicolor confections, where his breezy persona and his dark looks were.contrasted effectively against Fox blondes like Betty Grable. Imho his best acting was in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE; I think he should have received an Oscar nomination for his turn as the tuburcular Doc Holliday.

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I think he was an asset in those technicolor confections, where his breezy persona and his dark looks were.contrasted effectively against Fox blondes like Betty Grable.

 

Yep, and Esther Williams...though she wasn't a blonde, of course. Yep, I think Vic's contribution to "Million Dollar Mermaid" probably made that one the best of all of her movies, too.

 

(...of course I suppose it COULD have been the kangaroo...naah...it was definitely Victor) 

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Hmmmm....ya know finance, you're right.

 

And sooooooooo....

 

HEY TCM!!! ARE YA LISTENIN' HERE?! HOW ABOUT VIC GETTIN' A SOTM TREATMENT, HUH???!!!

 

(...I ain't gonna hold my breathe though...I know JUST how slowly the wheels turn around this place)

 

Btw...speakin' o' which...

 

samsonanddelilah-02.jpg

 

"Well, my lovely. I'll wager I'M TCM's Star of the Month before that muscle-bound head-of-hair you seem to be so infatuated with lately!"

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So now we have Victor, George, and Hedy (or is that Hedley?) all on the list for future SOTM.  That just pushes Susan further down the waiting list :P

 

Well, maybe you can..ahem.."finance" some kind of arrangement with TCM to help keep her at the top of that list, Mr.R? ;)

 

(...I'm certainly not adverse to seeing Susan get that honor before my boy Vic gets it, and just as long as both they and George AND Hedy eventually attain it)

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My money's all on Richard Widmark for SOTM, then maybe Dan Duryea.  How about Jean Peters? ;)

 

As you know I'm a big fan of Dan Duryea,  but I wouldn't make him SOTM if I was in charge of programming.    Like George Sanders,  Dan's best performances are in movies where he wasn't the lead male star.      

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My money's all on Richard Widmark for SOTM, then maybe Dan Duryea.  How about Jean Peters? ;)

 

Yeah, I like "the looks" of that last one mentioned of course. ;)

 

(...BUT of course that cutie doesn't have a lengthy enough filmography to ever have this happen, as you know) 

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As you know I'm a big fan of Dan Duryea,  but I wouldn't make him SOTM if I was in charge of programming.    Like George Sanders,  Dan's best performances are in movies where he wasn't the lead male star.      

 

Yep, I have to agree with ya here, James. If(not saying it should OR shouldn't be here, btw) the criteria for SOTM boils down to having a more lengthy "A-picture" filmography in which the proposed star IS "the star" of the movie, then in that case, Vic would have to go before both George and Dan here, I would say.

 

(...though I think ALL of them could AND should maybe be honored with this thing eventually)

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As you know I'm a big fan of Dan Duryea,  but I wouldn't make him SOTM if I was in charge of programming.    Like George Sanders,  Dan's best performances are in movies where he wasn't the lead male star.      

Not completely. Don't forget that good little '50s crime drama, The Burglar. Excellent minimalist performance by Duryea, who is the star.

 

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Not completely. Don't forget that good little '50s crime drama, The Burglar. Excellent minimalist performance by Duryea, who is the star.

 

f2667ebb-3da9-4bc4-a5a0-26e4830216b9_zps

 

Very true Tom, and I agree that Dan's performance AND the picture is one not to miss. However, for the most part, I still have to agree with James here.

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