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An Overlooked Great Actor; Robert Ryan! // A Superb Overlooked Great Actress Ida Lupino!


MCannady1
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Often overlooked when films and actors/actresses are evaluated is the great Robert Ryan.

He is superbly menacing (in Caught, Beware, My Lovely)  or seemingly implacable  in Deep Valley, On Dangerous Ground,  etc.  In the latter two films we see a sensitive side of Mr. Ryan that is seldom revealed!

 

In each film he uniquely portrays his part, making the film very special.  In Deep Valley he is a police officer searhing for a killer (Dane Clark) who is Ida's boyfriend.  She is hiding him.  On Dangerous Ground has Ida as a blind girl who tries to help her brother who may be accused of murder.  We see Mr. Ryan going from indifferent police officer doing his job routinely, to an attitude tinged with sympathy and ultimately with a deep love for lovely Ida who is blind and cares deeply about her brother.

 

I have admired Ida Lupino for many years too!  I saw all of these wonderful 40's and 50's films on TV as a child and was profoundly impacted by her talents as well.  In the film Roadhouse we see her hired as a singer in an out of the way Road House restaurant.  The owner and boss is Richard Widmark who goes insane when she suddenly marries his assistant, potrayed by the mild-mannered and handsome  Cornell Wilde. It seems Mr. W.'s character had fallen in love with Lily (Ida) too and was ready to pop the question as well!  Celeste Holm shines here as the secretary  who desperately tries to save Lily (Ida's character) and her husband.  But it soon is clear that in the out of the way hunting spot he is out of control with his gun collection; intending to shoot them both dead.  (Of course he cleverly pulled out all of the phone cords from the walls.  Too bad cell phones were not in existence yet in the late 40's!  If she had had a cell and could call 911, the denouement of the film might have been less catastrophic).

 

In Women in Prison she portrayed a vicious prison warden who fatally kicks Audrey Totter's character because she had been married to her old boyfriend and was pregnant!  Ultimately she loses her sanity and imagines the girl is still alive.  Not surprising that Ida became the first woman director of films in America!  There are other great performances of Ida; too numerous to mention here.  In recent years I have seen her earlier films for the first time.  In several comedies (late 30's - 40's) she was a blonde and in others a selfish brunette.  The Hard Way illustrates this factor; in this film Ida tears her sister's (Joan Leslie) marriage apart and causes ultimate disaster.

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I have a great admiration for both Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino, as well.

 

However, MCannady, if you saw Deep Valley with Robert Ryan in it, what the heck's with TCM continuously showing a truncated version of that movie with Ryan completely cut out? ;)

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I don't know how anyone can say these actors are "overlooked".

 

Robert Ryan is a well admired and respected actor and often cited as "favorite" male lead especially in film noir. He is known for his sensitivity playing powerful charactors.

 

Ida Lupino is also very well respected an actor now and by her contemporaries. She also gained much admiration as a film director and many welcomed the chance to work with her. I've never heard a negative word said about her.

 

How could they possibly be "overlooked"? Maybe they're not common topic of conversations among teens, but they certainly are well remembered & loved by classic film fans - while also popular in their day.

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I agree that neither is overlooked, especially, Ryan.  Ida Lupino directed one of my top 5 favorite films, THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS.  For that, alone, she's a favorite of mine.  Oh, and her sadistic prison matron, Miss Tyson in the TV movie, WOMEN IN CHAINS is a favorite, too.  Ryan, I like in everything.  In fact, just last night I watched the 1953 film, INFERNO, in glorious 3D!

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I don't know how anyone can say these actors are "overlooked".

 

Robert Ryan is a well admired and respected actor and often cited as "favorite" male lead especially in film noir. He is known for his sensitivity playing powerful charactors.

 

Ida Lupino is also very well respected an actor now and by her contemporaries. She also gained much admiration as a film director and many welcomed the chance to work with her. I've never heard a negative word said about her.

 

How could they possibly be "overlooked"? Maybe they're not common topic of conversations among teens, but they certainly are well remembered & loved by classic film fans - while also popular in their day.

 

No question that both Ryan and Lupino are well known and respected among classic movies fans, and that their reputation among critics is as high as it gets, but  "overlooked" has more than one meaning. 

 

Even on TCM, Ryan's been SOTM exactly once (in 2000), and also had a SUTS day but one time (in 2010).

 

Lupino's made out a little better.  She's also had but one SUTS day (in 2009), but she's had two SOTM tributes (in 1997 and 2007).

 

But compare that to Elvis Presley (1 SOTM and 4 SUTS days) or Doris Day (3 SOTM and 6 SUTS days).  IMO this is a fairly accurate reflection of not just TCM's "star" bias, but of the entire way that "stars" were defined in the so-called "golden age" of movies.   Ryan and Lupino* suffer (if that's the word) because they gravitated toward major roles that were non-"romantic" and often dark, as opposed to lighter fare with an easy Good Guys vs Bad Guys moral.  In many ways their lack of "star" recognition is a testament to the seriousness with which they took their calling, but in the long run their critical legacy and reputation bear out the wisdom of their choices.

 

* And George Sanders, with not a single SOTM or SUTS tribute---unbelievable.

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Ida Lupino didn't receive the kind of treatment that her acting talent deserved.

 

Lupino was an intelligent, intense actress, who, initially, showed a proclivity toward playing the kind of edgy, neurotic roles that had made Bette Davis a Drama Queen. However, largely because of Davis's dominance at the studio to which Ida was under contract during the '40s, Warner Brothers, she had few really outstanding opportunities there.

 

The Hard Way shows her off to good advantage but what else did the studio offer her afterwards that was equally impressive? By the end of the decade she showed her versatility by going behind the camera to become a director of some distinction for small budget productions. But a large part of that was because good acting roles simply weren't coming her way.

 

Robert Ryan, for the most part, remained a supporting character actor, one who, certainly during his earlier days, had a remarkable facility at playing, like Lupino, intense, neurotic (even psychopathic) characters. And he was damn good at playing the darker side, perhaps too much so to ever become a true Hollywood star, even with his rugged good looks.

 

By the '60s it seems to me that Ryan was just looking for a pay cheque in his film roles, as he probably had few illusions about really good parts coming his way. However, he had the opportunity to give another outstanding performance as Deke Thornton, a former outlaw now reluctantly forced to hunt his former compatriots in order to stay out of prison, in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.

 

Ryan had one marvelous scene in the film that I recall. Forced to ride with scavengers who want to pull gold teeth out of dead men's mouths, he at one point, in reference to the outlaws and former friends he is now hunting, has an outburst at the scavengers,

 

"They're men! And I wish TO GOD (!!!) I was with them."

 

I first saw this film at the show upon it's release in 1969. When Ryan had this scene with his empassioned delivery of the above line, I recall sitting in my theatre seat and thinking, "Robert Ryan, what a great actor."

 

thewildbunch4-600_zpsk3a7hdak.jpg

 

Ryan in The Wild Bunch. A wonderful late career opportunity, and a subtle yet complex performance that knocked me out when I watched in a theatre in 1969. Look at that map of experience etched across his craggy features.

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Ida Lupino directed a lot of TV shows in the late 50's and maybe early 60's.  Sje was part of the Four Star Playhouse TV series at one time.

As for Robert Ryan, very impressive actor, but just didn't have that something that made him jump out for most people.  Maybe it was the roles or the direction.

As for SUTS and SOTM, I dislike both.  One reason is that TCM programmers are going to focus on "big names" well known to potential viewers.  I have seen many of Elvis' and Doris Day's movies, but have not watched either in decades.  I think they are silly.  Viva Las Vegas could have been a good movie, but Col. Parker had much of Ann-Margaret's stuff cut because it showed how poor an actor Elvis was compared to her.

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Ida Lupino didn't receive the kind of treatment that her acting talent deserved.

 

Lupino was an intelligent, intense actress, who, initially, showed a proclivity toward playing the kind of edgy, neurotic roles that had made Bette Davis a Drama Queen. However, largely because of Davis's dominance at the studio to which Ida was under contract during the '40s, Warner Brothers, she had few really outstanding opportunities there.

 

The Hard Way shows her off to good advantage but what else did the studio offer her afterwards that was equally impressive? By the end of the decade she showed her versatility by going behind the camera to become a director of some distinction for small budget productions. But a large part of that was because good acting roles simply weren't coming her way.

 

Robert Ryan, for the most part, remained a supporting character actor, one who, certainly during his earlier days, had a remarkable facility at playing, like Lupino, intense, neurotic (even psychopathic) characters. And he was damn good at playing the darker side, perhaps too much so to ever become a true Hollywood star, even with his rugged good looks.

 

By the '60s it seems to me that Ryan was just looking for a pay cheque in his film roles, as he probably had few illusions about really good parts coming his way. However, he had the opportunity to give another outstanding performance as Deke Thornton, a former outlaw now reluctantly forced to hunt his former compatriots in order to stay out of prison, in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.

 

Ryan had one marvelous scene in the film that I recall. Forced to ride with scavengers who want to pull gold teeth out of dead men's mouths, he at one point, in reference to the outlaws and former friends he is now hunting, has an outburst at the scavengers,

 

"They're men! And I wish TO GOD (!!!) I was with them."

 

I first saw this film at the show upon it's release in 1969. When Ryan had this scene with his emphatic delivery of the above line, I recall sitting in my theatre seat and thinking, "Robert Ryan, what a great actor."

 

thewildbunch4-600_zpsk3a7hdak.jpg

 

Ryan in The Wild Bunch. A wonderful late career opportunity, and a subtle yet complex performance that knocked me out when I watched in a theatre in 1969. Look at that map of experience etched across his craggy features.

 

Tom, on the basis of your excellent post here, I'd strongly recommend that new J.R. Jones bio of Ryan.  He touches upon all the points you mention, and also singles out that marvelous final scene in The Wild Bunch.

 

Both you and Jones note that in the 60's Ryan took a lot of offers for unmemorable movies, where he performed well, but it was like Mickey Mantle being placed on the 1962 Mets.  But in addition to his films, he also spent a fair amount of time on the stage, where he gave some of his best performances in such plays as Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh. Both of them received rave reviews and had extended runs.  It's a pity that Long Day's Journey was never preserved onto film*, although Iceman was part of the American Film Theatre series and is available on DVD.

 

* There is an audio version that was released on vinyl, but not on a CD, at least to my knowledge.

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The only disagreement I'll forward is the notion that these two, or either one, has EVER been "overlooked".

 

Their individual efforts and bodies of work have long been heralded by both film historians and critics alike.  NOT to mention armchair, erstwhile film buffs like many of US in here.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I don't know how anyone can say these actors are "overlooked".

 

Robert Ryan is a well admired and respected actor and often cited as "favorite" male lead especially in film noir. He is known for his sensitivity playing powerful charactors.

 

Ida Lupino is also very well respected an actor now and by her contemporaries. She also gained much admiration as a film director and many welcomed the chance to work with her. I've never heard a negative word said about her.

 

How could they possibly be "overlooked"? Maybe they're not common topic of conversations among teens, but they certainly are well remembered & loved by classic film fans - while also popular in their day.

 

The term 'overlooked' is very similar to the often misused 'underrated';    Both terms represent the views of OTHER individuals and therefore NOT the view of the person (poster) using them.    Unless one has polling data or some type of information about the opinions of others they have no clue if an actor is overlooked or underrated. 

 

In addition, similar to your point about teens,   who are these 'other individuals'?   The general American public?  How much do any of these folks know about actors from the studio-era system,  especially pre-50s?   My guess is that 95% of the actors from the 30s and 40s are 'overlooked'.

 

Instead of using these terms just say;  I really love the work of these stars.    In the case of Lupino and Ryan: I love these two  (and it appears most of the users at this forum do as well,  but of course that only represent the views of this forum which is a very, very narrow subset of the general public). 

 

Reading what Andy posted;  OK if 'overlooked' means 'in comparison to other actors featured on TCM',  ok I get that and yes hacks like Elvis are featured more then fine actors like Ryan and Lupino,  but hey,  that is showbiz. 

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The only disagreement I'll forward is the notion that these two, or either one, has EVER been "overlooked".

 

Their individual efforts and bodies of work have long been heralded by both film historians and critics alike.  NOT to mention armchair, erstwhile film buffs like many of US in here.

 

 

Sepiatone

Since Lupino also was a pioneering female director, you'd think that would give her visibility which would separate her from the pack of other actresses. No?

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Ida Lupino didn't receive the kind of treatment that her acting talent deserved.

 

 

You copuld probably say the same thing about hundreds, maybe thousands, of other actors.  The television industry is even worse.

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Tom, on the basis of your excellent post here, I'd strongly recommend that new J.R. Jones bio of Ryan.  He touches upon all the points you mention, and also singles out that marvelous final scene in The Wild Bunch.

 

 

Interesting, Andy, that Jones singled out the same scene. It's one that always stayed with me because of Ryan's performance. Give the same dialogue to another actor and there's a good chance we'd never talk about it.

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1973 saw some great performances by lead actors:  Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail; Al Pacino in Serpico; Steve McQueen in Papillon; and even Woody Allen in Sleeper.  Marlon Brando's stunning Last Tango in Paris was released in 1972.

 

But for my money the performance of the year was Robert Ryan as Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh.  If he had won the Oscar for this, sadly it would have been awarded posthumously as Ryan died in July of 1973.

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I didn't realize that Robert Ryan died a mere four years after I sat enthralled with his performance in The Wild Bunch in a theatre.

 

What a loss.

 

Would anyone (Andy?) know if there is any truth to the rumours that Ryan and Sam Peckinpah had some major arguments during that producton, with the director finally backing down when a crew member reminded the cantankerous Peckinpah that Ryan was highly proficient with his fists.

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Tom, on the basis of your excellent post here, I'd strongly recommend that new J.R. Jones bio of Ryan.  He touches upon all the points you mention, and also singles out that marvelous final scene in The Wild Bunch.

Interesting, Andy, that Jones singled out the same scene. It's one that always stayed with me because of Ryan's performance. Give the same dialogue to another actor and there's a good chance we'd never talk about it.

 

And the thing about Ryan is that you might say this about hundreds of other scenes he appeared in over the years.  He said "It's all in the eyes", and brother, was that ever true of him.  He often explained his ability to portray bigots and psychopaths by saying that he'd seen so many of them back when he was growing up in Chicago, and he always wanted to dig beneath the surface and making them true to life rather than just one more nasty archetype.
 

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I didn't realize that Robert Ryan died a mere four years after I sat enthralled with his performance in The Wild Bunch (aloing with others in that same film, particularly Bill Holden).

 

What a loss.

 

Would anyone (Andy?) know if there is any truth to the rumours that Ryan and Sam Peckinpah had some major arguments during that producton, with the director finally backing down when a crew member reminded the cantankerous Peckinpah that Ryan was highly proficient with his fists.

 

According to Jones's book, it wasn't just Ryan, but also Holden and Borgnine, who had run-ins with Peckinpah.  At one point in the middle of production, which coincided with the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Ryan unsuccessfully asked Peckinpah for 10 days off in order to campaign for Eugene McCarthy.  Here's how Jones describes the aftermath, taking it from the Holden biographer Bob Thomas:

 

"For ten days, Ryan reported to the set in makeup and costume.  He never played a scene.  Finally he grabbed Peckinpah by the shirt front and growled, 'I'll do anything you ask me to do in front of the cameras, because I'm a professional.  But you open your mouth to me off the set, and I'll knock your teeth in.' "

 

P. S. As I noted in that other thread about the Jones book that nobody's responded to, there was a case of a famous movie person who backed down from baiting Ryan when Ryan offered to take it outside the bar.  But that wasn't Peckinpah who realized he would have been way overmatched---it was John Wayne.

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According to Jones's book, it wasn't just Ryan, but also Holden and Borgnine, who had run-ins with Peckinpah.  At one point in the middle of production, which coincided with the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Ryan unsuccessfully asked Peckinpah for 10 days off in order to campaign for Eugene McCarthy.  Here's how Jones describes the aftermath, taking it from the Holden biographer Bob Thomas:

 

"For ten days, Ryan reported to the set in makeup and costume.  He never played a scene.  Finally he grabbed Peckinpah by the shirt front and growled, 'I'll do anything you ask me to do in front of the cameras, because I'm a professional.  But you open your mouth to me off the set, and I'll knock your teeth in.' "

 

P. S. As I noted in that other thread about the Jones book that nobody's responded to, there was a case of a famous movie person who backed down from baiting Ryan when Ryan offered to take it outside the bar.  But that wasn't Peckinpah who realized he would have been way overmatched---it was John Wayne.

Thanks very much, Andy, That's very interesting. Ryan was no one to make angry. Also looks like Wayne was no fool.

 

I've always been a fan of The Wild Bunch, Love Ryan in that film, love Bill Holden. I like Edmond O'Brien, too, always assuming that he was inspired to a large degree by Walter Huston as old Howard in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. (Entertaining as O'Brien is in the film, he's still no Walter Huston).

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Thanks very much, Andy, That's very interesting. Ryan was no one to make angry. Also looks like Wayne was no fool.

 

I've always been a fan of The Wild Bunch, Love Ryan in that film, love Bill Holden. I like Edmond O'Brien, too, always assuming that he was inspired to a large degree by Walter Huston as old Howard in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. (Entertaining as O'Brien is in the film, he's still no Walter Huston).

Westerns are just about my least favorite genre, but two big exceptions are The Wild Bunch and The Naked Spur, which have one outstanding cast member in common.

 

And BTW in spite of Ryan's legendary boxing skills, you never read of him being involved in the sort of after hours brawls that were the trademark of so many other actors.  He had his problems with alcohol, but his drinking was almost always solitary, or among family and friends, and never led to violence.

 

P. S. You really should get a hold of that book. :)

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Westerns are just about my least favorite genre, but two big exceptions are The Wild Bunch and The Naked Spur, which have one outstanding cast member in common.

 

And BTW in spite of Ryan's legendary boxing skills, you never read of him being involved in the sort of after hours brawls that were the trademark of so many other actors.  He had his problems with alcohol, but his drinking was almost always solitary, or among family and friends, and never led to violence.

 

P. S. You really should get a hold of that book. :)

I really do like Ryan. Maybe I'll take a look at how pricey that book is.

 

You mentioned Naked Spur, Andy, a film with two great performances in it, Jimmy Stewart and Robert Ryan. Ryan is like a cobra in this one, putting on an affable charm to mask his character's total ruthlessness. That moment in which he cold bloodedly guns down Millard Mitchell is quite chilling.

 

Yes, I know you don't like westerns, Andy, but this is a superior vehicle from the Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart tandem. Along with Winchester 73, I think this is one of their two best of the series of westerns they made.

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...P. S. As I noted in that other thread about the Jones book that nobody's responded to, there was a case of a famous movie person who backed down from baiting Ryan when Ryan offered to take it outside the bar.  But that wasn't Peckinpah who realized he would have been way overmatched---it was John Wayne.

 

Andy, the only movie I know of which co-starred these two was "The Flying Leathernecks", and so do you know if this incident happened during its filming?

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I didn't realize that Robert Ryan died a mere four years after I sat enthralled with his performance in The Wild Bunch in a theatre.

 

What a loss.

 

Would anyone (Andy?) know if there is any truth to the rumours that Ryan and Sam Peckinpah had some major arguments during that producton, with the director finally backing down when a crew member reminded the cantankerous Peckinpah that Ryan was highly proficient with his fists.

I believe it was Ernest Borgnine in his autobiography that mentioned Ryan was just about the toughest individual that he had ever met.  Meaning (street) fighting skills.

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I believe it was Ernest Borgnine in his autobiography that mentioned Ryan was just about the toughest individual that he had ever met.  Meaning (street) fighting skills.

But since Andy said that Ryan didn't get into fights (or, perhaps, many of them, at least), I wonder what Borgnine's statement is based upon. Does this mean he actually saw him in action, I wonder.

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