Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Edmond O'Brien Appreciation


HepburnGirl
 Share

Recommended Posts

Does anybody else really like Edmond O'Brien?

 

I think he's so underappreciated. I've enjoyed him immensely in everything I've ever seen him in. I know a lot people say he's a very “wooden" actor, but I don't agree with that; I've always felt that he had a very quiet intensity. There's always something a bit mysterious about him, like he has more going on inside than he's letting on. I just find him very interesting

 

Some of my favorite films of his are “The Hitchhiker," directed by the great Ida Lupino; also, “The Bigamist," in which he again worked with Lupino, as she both directed and co-stared in the film, along with Joan Fontaine and a terrific Edmund Gwenn. And, of course, D.O.A. is a terrific film noir and O'Brien is magnificent in it, he really sold the franticness and anxiety that the role required--it's a classic of the film noir genre, and it's probably O'Brien's most popular movie in which he's the leading man.

 

It's unfortunate, though, that he was only allowed to be leading man in B movies, and was relegated to supporting and character roles in A- list movies Like “Julius Caesar," “Birdman of Alcatraz," and “The Barefoot Contessa," for which he at least won a best supporting actor Oscar.

 

I suppose he didn't have the leading man “good looks" for A- list films, but was better suited to B noir movies because of his everyman quality. At any rate, I suppose he was luckier than most B movie actors, for his ability to crossover into A list movies-- and get Academy Award recognition for his efforts-- while most other B movie actors didn't fare so well.

 

Anyway, I think he deserves far more credit than he gets-- he was a great actor, who left a terrific body of work in several different genres. I'll watch anything, A- list or B- list, that has Edmond O'Brien in it!

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How weird, I was just thinking about Mr O'Brien last night (DOA was on a cable channel).   Consider me to be a big fan, I know he's been discussed on these boards (not sure if the thread was specifically about him).  I would never consider him to be a "wooden" actor, if anything many of his performances can be considered over the top or "hammy" .We did have a "hammy"  thread a long time ago, maybe that's when he was discussed.  But most of us agreed that "hammy" can be a good thing in the right situations, and I would say O'Brien usually gave us what the role demanded. I believe he was heavily influenced by the great Charles Laughton (O'Brien was in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME remember).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of Edmond O'Brien's best performances is in the Cagney film WHITE HEAT.  Clearly this movie is Cagney's all of the way (giving a incredibly intense performance) but just about any other actor in the supporting role would have been blown off of the screen by Cagney. O'Brien is a perfect counter part to Cagney's Cody Jarrett. O'Brien doesn't try to out act him but  he does stand toe to toe with Cagney as an equal.  O'Brien makes the film even better with his strong steady performance.  I can't imagine any other actor doing better, and most would have been much less.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How weird, I was just thinking about Mr O'Brien last night (DOA was on a cable channel). Consider me to be a big fan, I know he's been discussed on these boards (not sure if the thread was specifically about him). I would never consider him to be a "wooden" actor, if anything many of his performances can be considered over the top or "hammy" .We did have a "hammy" thread a long time ago, maybe that's when he was discussed. But most of us agreed that "hammy" can be a good thing in the right situations, and I would say O'Brien usually gave us what the role demanded. I believe he was heavily influenced by the great Charles Laughton (O'Brien was in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME remember).

You know, it's funny, I have heard people say he's "hammy," and others say he's "wooden." I'm not quite sure how someone can be both, lol. Very different ends of the spectrum.

 

But I have to say, if he's one of the two, I would agree that he was, perhaps at times, hammy--particularly in “The Barefoot Contessa," but it worked well for the character of a smarmy press agent.

 

Like I said before though, I think he was capable of this really quiet intensity, that I most felt in “The Hitchhiker". I think he played that part really well and very subtly, very quietly--you can just feel the tension building beneath the surface. I think he played that role perfectly, not at all Hammy, nor wooden.

Either way, hammy or not, I love to watch him!

 

And I agree about Laughton; I love him, I think he was a great actor, but he could be a little hammy sometimes. But like you said, that's not always a bad thing! I'd rather watch a lively, hammy actor, than a bland, lifeless, wooden actor!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is weird because when the September schedule thread was started, I mentioned that maybe he would be Star of the Month. He would have been 100 years old in September if he was still alive. I think he's very effective as the alcoholic senator in Seven Days in May. I hope I'm right about him getting the nod this year.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anybody else really like Edmond O'Brien?

 

I think he's so underappreciated. I've enjoyed him immensely in everything I've ever seen him in. I know a lot people say he's a very “wooden" actor, but I don't agree with that; I've always felt that he had a very quiet intensity. There's always something a bit mysterious about him, like he has more going on inside than he's letting on. I just find him very interesting

 

Some of my favorite films of his are “The Hitchhiker," directed by the great Ida Lupino; also, “The Bigamist," in which he again worked with Lupino, as she both directed and co-stared in the film, along with Joan Fontaine and a terrific Edmund Gwenn. And, of course, D.O.A. is a terrific film noir and O'Brien is magnificent in it, he really sold the franticness and anxiety that the role required--it's a classic of the film noir genre, and it's probably O'Brien's most popular movie in which he's the leading man.

 

It's unfortunate, though, that he was only allowed to be leading man in B movies, and was relegated to supporting and character roles in A- list movies Like “Julius Caesar," “Birdman of Alcatraz," and “The Barefoot Contessa," for which he at least won a best supporting actor Oscar.

 

I suppose he didn't have the leading man “good looks" for A- list films, but was better suited to B noir movies because of his everyman quality. At any rate, I suppose he was luckier than most B movie actors, for his ability to crossover into A list movies-- and get Academy Award recognition for his efforts-- while most other B movie actors didn't fare so well.

 

Anyway, I think he deserves far more credit than he gets-- he was a great actor, who left a terrific body of work in several different genres. I'll watch anything, A- list or B- list, that has Edmond O'Brien in it!

 

I can think of plenty of actors with more charisma, but I can't think of a single movie I've seen with Edmond O'Brien in it that wasn't markedly improved by his presence.  One of my all-time favorites.

 

Perfect example:  The Killers.  While he's nominally the lead, in the sense that his character is the one who keeps the plot moving, he's competing not only with the glamour couple Lancaster and Gardner for our attention, but with a whole stable of secondary characters that fill the screen, from William Conrad and Charles McGraw to Albert Dekker to Sam Levene to the unforgettable Jack Lambert.  And yet O'Brien is the glue that holds the film together in his own persistent way, right down to the final scene where his boss hears of his many near brushes with death, just to reduce the upcoming year's life insurance premiums by a tenth of a cent, and rewards him by giving him the weekend off!  It's the perfect understated line delivered to the perfect lunchpail actor, who hears his "reward" and greets it with an appreciatively ironic smile, as he exits the scene and ends the movie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

711 OCEAN DRIVE is a film I recently saw for the first time. Its a  crime / noir type film from 1950 with O'Brien as the lead. He's a wiz with all things electrical and gets involved with the local mob and their booking operations. Over time he ends up running the whole operation, getting more ambitious and ruthless. As you might expect he gets in over his head butting heads with the big time mob boys and meets a bad fate.  Its a good, fast paced story with solid supporting players but O'Brien is definitely the main focus and  he gives his usual strong performance. A film that is worth seeking out. Another film I like with O'Brien in the lead is the western DENVER AND RIO GRANDE. Its  about building railroads and the cut throat competition between construction gangs. The usual hard hitting action film (Sterling Hayden  co stars),  it doesn't get a lot of air time but should.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

711 OCEAN DRIVE is a film I recently saw for the first time. Its a crime / noir type film from 1950 with O'Brien as the lead. He's a wiz with all things electrical and gets involved with the local mob and their booking operations. Over time he ends up running the whole operation, getting more ambitious and ruthless. As you might expect he gets in over his head butting heads with the big time mob boys and meets a bad fate. Its a good, fast paced story with solid supporting players but O'Brien is definitely the main focus and he gives his usual strong performance. A film that is worth seeking out. Another film I like with O'Brien in the lead is the western DENVER AND RIO GRANDE. Its about building railroads and the cut throat competition between construction gangs. The usual hard hitting action film (Sterling Hayden co stars), it doesn't get a lot of air time but should.

I've wanted to see 711 Ocean Drive for the longest time, but I just haven't had the good fortune to run across it on tv. I'll watch anything with O'Brien in it; he always turns in a good, solid and interesting performance, whether he's the lead or supporting actor. He's been one of my favorite actors since I first saw him in D.O.A. and I've loved him ever since.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like EDMOND O'BRIEN.  Watched him in a plethora of movies over the years and enjoyed his performances.  He had me feeling some sympathy for him in the movie where he plays a bigamist. 

 

     Since you're a fan of Edmond, HepburnGirl, I'd recommend the 1966 Tv movie "The Doomsday Flight".  Written by Rod Serling.  Edmond plays a disgruntled former employee who wears Coke-bottle thick glasses and plants a altitude-detonation bomb on an airplane and demands ransom.  Jack Lord, trying out his "Steve McGarrett"-type persona a couple years before the beginning of "Hawaii-Five-O", is the agent tasked to stop him . . . if he can! 

 

     I'd very much like to see that 1973 Tv movie Edmond appeared in called "Isn't it Shocking?".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like EDMOND O'BRIEN. Watched him in a plethora of movies over the years and enjoyed his performances. He had me feeling some sympathy for him in the movie where he plays a bigamist.

 

Since you're a fan of Edmond, HepburnGirl, I'd recommend the 1966 Tv movie "The Doomsday Flight". Written by Rod Serling. Edmond plays a disgruntled former employee who wears Coke-bottle thick glasses and plants a altitude-detonation bomb on an airplane and demands ransom. Jack Lord, trying out his "Steve McGarrett"-type persona a couple years before the beginning of "Hawaii-Five-O", is the agent tasked to stop him . . . if he can!

 

I'd very much like to see that 1973 Tv movie Edmond appeared in called "Isn't it Shocking?".

Thanks, Mr. Gorman! I'll definitely look out for “The Doomsday Flight" - it sounds very interesting.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife wanted to watch a "bad girl" movie last night, so I pulled out Two of a Kind.  O'Brien was excellent in it.  Probably the only good movie on "Bad Girls of Film Noir" set.

An interesting role for him was in They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) with James Garner.  He owned a liquor store.

Never much liked The Bigamist, although a big fan of both O'Brien and Ida Lupino.  Maybe because it is not so much as mystery as a drama.

He did have one role which is very irritating.  Forget the name of the movie, but he is travelling by train and people keep making noises that sound like train wheels or puffing.  This "sound" is carried on throughout the movie in other aspects.  People keep making the sound because it "gets in their heads."  He is very good in it though.  The sound will get in your head too if you watch it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like Edmond O`Briens performance in Pete Kelly`s Blues. He plays a ruthless bootlegger who is determined to muscle his way into every club that Jack Webb`s band is playing in. Finally is forced to pay O`Brien for protection. Fran, the character that Edmond plays, treats his girlfriend terribly. Rose a band singer is played by the great Peggy Lee. She once was a good singer, but the bottle and Fran`s degrading her have lowered  her self esteem to nothing. I like Edmond`s range because he could play a decent guy, and the next role he might be cast as a brute.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Girl Can't Help It 1956. I think Edmund O'Brien is hilarious in this picture.

 

But is that an example of O'Brien being hammy or was he just being true to the character?     I think it is a little of both.

 

Of course Mansfield was way over the top in that one.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT , I think O'Brien was "turning up the ham"  because that's what the character called for in that film and he was an actor who could do just that.  I've been thinking about THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (a much discussed film on these boards)  and O'Brien's portrayal of the always inebriated newspaper man. That character was somewhat over the top, especially  being in sharp contrast to Stewart, Wayne and everyone else who are  all rather stoic . But this was a John Ford film and O'Brien had to provide that element (like a Victor McLaglen always did) . The only other comic relief in the film was from another old Ford favorite Andy Devine.  Again O'Brien played his  role as it was intended to be and did a great job.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT , I think O'Brien was "turning up the ham"  because that's what the character called for in that film and he was an actor who could do just that.  I've been thinking about THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (a much discussed film on these boards)  and O'Brien's portrayal of the always inebriated newspaper man. That character was somewhat over the top, especially  being in sharp contrast to Stewart, Wayne and everyone else who are  all rather stoic . But this was a John Ford film and O'Brien had to provide that element (like a Victor McLaglen always did) . The only other comic relief in the film was from another old Ford favorite Andy Devine.  Again O'Brien played his  role as it was intended to be and did a great job.

 

I agree with you.    O'Brien was a solid actor but he was often cast as character that were hams.   The press agent in The Barefoot Contessa being an example.   But even in that film when the agent is about to make his big move he is nervous,  unsure of himself  and isn't cocky.    It isn't until he pulls it over that the agent,  now with the job of a lifetime,  reverts back to form.   To me that shows O'Brien was versatile.

 

I mean,   Shelley Winters wasn't really an annoying person just because she often played very annoying characters.   Oh wait, I saw her on Carson a few times,  so maybe that isn't a good example.    :blink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you. O'Brien was a solid actor but he was often cast as character that were hams. The press agent in The Barefoot Contessa being an example. But even in that film when the agent is about to make his big move he is nervous, unsure of himself and isn't cocky. It isn't until he pulls it over that the agent, now with the job of a lifetime, reverts back to form. To me that shows O'Brien was versatile.

 

I mean, Shelley Winters wasn't really an annoying person just because she often played very annoying characters. Oh wait, I saw her on Carson a few times, so maybe that isn't a good example. :blink:

LOL. I think Oliver Reed would agree with you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

I have always rated  Edmond O'Brien highly as an actor so I recently recorded the film THE WORLD WAS HIS JURY. Edmond O'Brien stars as a defense attorney representing  a ship's captain who is being held  responsible for a disastrous   explosion and fire that killed hundreds of people on board his ship. My thinking is, this has to be a good film.  Maybe I am spoiled by watching so many courtroom dramas that are usually so well done.  In spite of O'Brien's usual strong performance (he's the only real actor of note in this modest budget film)  and some respectable acting by the supporting cast this film quite frankly stank in my opinion.  The problems are a bad script writing and some sub par direction. This film is full of bad cliche situations and dialogue, it's half way to being a parody (Like ZERO HOUR is spoofed by AIRPLANE!) except this film is supposed to be serious drama.  Just shows that good acting alone can't totally compensate for a laughable script and direction. This doesn't change my opinion on Edmond O'Brien, except I wished he  could have passed over this job. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always enjoyed O'Brien, particularly associating him with a few tough crime dramas and noirs.

 

In his later years I saw him channeling a few other actors in some of his performances, ie. Thomas Mitchell in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and Walter Huston (from Treasure of the Sierra Madre but grungier) in THE WILD BUNCH. Not exactly subtle performances but still enjoyable.

 

I thought that O'Brien was pretty much at the peak of his career as a performer when he had the lead in D.O.A..

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think O'Brien is one actor who needs an "actor's director".  With a journeyman, he can be prone to going a bit over the top. When I restored the score to D.O.A., I couldn't decide who was pushing the envelope more - O'Brien or Dimitri Tiomkin.  O'Brien was often given very intense parts and since he was very much a surface actor, he was always better when he brought the intensity level down. Even in WHITE HEAT, when Cody slams his cup on the commisary table, O'Brien's surprised reaction is big-eyed but there's nothing really behind it.  His later, more natural performances were outstanding, like his Tom Gaddis in BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ.

 

BTW - he was great on radio as YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...