By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington
The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).
PICK OF THE WEEK
Robert Ryan Day Monday, Nov. 11, 6 a.m. (3 a.m.) to 6 p.m. (3 p.m). His eyes were dark, narrow and penetrating, and they could sometimes take on a bemused crinkle or a murderous squint. His voice sometimes had a menacing rasp or whine. He had a powerful frame, hardened by his years as a college boxing champ and a U. S. Marine. He could portray pathology — the ruthlessness of a villain, the torment of a ordinary man caught in a web of violence or corruption — like few players in the history of film noir. He could break your heart, or make your blood run cold.
He was underestimated for much of his career, but we know him now as one of the great actors of film noir, and of American movies. He came from Chicago and his name was Robert Ryan. For most of his career, Ryan was one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors: a reliable villain, yes, and a supporting player who never gave a bad performance, but not, it was mistakenly thought, one of the monarchs of his profession, like Bogart, Tracy, Stewart and Fonda.
Perhaps only at the end of his career, when he was dying — and he played for John Frankenheimer, superbly, the role of Larry Slade in the American Film Theater film of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” did he get something like the full recognition as a master of his craft, that he always deserved.
On Monday, TCM is highlighting the work of this brilliant actor. If you can only catch one or two of the Robert Ryan movies, see “The Set-Up” and “On Dangerous Ground.” And then raise a glass to the guy, one of the greats, who never really got his due until he was almost gone. The champ.
Monday, Nov. 11
6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Berlin Express” (1948, Jacques Tourneur) With Merle Oberon and Paul Lukas. Reviewed in FNB on April 9, 2013.
7:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.): “Act of Violence” (1949, Fred Zinnemann). With Van Heflin and Janet Leigh. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 4, 2012.
9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “Crossfire” (1947, Edward Dmytryk). With Robert Mitchum and Robert Young. Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 20, 2012.
10:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m.): “The Set-Up” (1949, Robert Wise). With Audrey Totter. Reviewed in FNB on April 9, 2013, Reviewed in FNB on April 9, 2013.
11:45 a.m. (8:45 a.m.): “Beware, My Lovely” (1952, Harry Horner). Lonely woman Ida Lupino is put through the suspense drama wringer by bent handyman Ryan.
1:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m.): “On Dangerous Ground” (1952, Nicholas Ray). One of the great Robert Ryan roles and Nick Ray movies. Ryan plays a brutal, disillusioned cop, sick of the dark urban world in which he works, and prone to fits of near-murderous violence. He is sent to the country to track down an emotionally damaged young boy/murderer, whose sister is a blind woman (Ida Lupino). With Ward Bond as the vigilante father of the victim and Charles Kemper as Ryan’s sympathetic city cop partner. The excellent script is by A. I. Bezzerides (“Kiss Me Deadly”), and the great, alternately romantic and nerve-jangling, score is by Bernard Herrmann.
2:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m.): “Born to be Bad” (1950, Nicholas Ray). With Joan Fontaine and Mel Ferrer. Reviewed in FNB on April 9, 2013.
4:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.): “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955, John Sturges). With Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan and Lee Marvin. Reviewed in FNB on April 7, 2012.
6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Billy Budd” (1962, Peter Ustinov). Another of Ryan’s greatest performances. In Ustinov’s film adaptation of Herman Melville’s story of the beautiful, childlike sailor Billy Budd (Terence Stamp), Ryan is the sadistic ship’s officer Claggart, who relentlessly persecutes the boy and triggers a tragedy. With Ustinov as Captain Vere and Melvyn Douglas as The Dansker. [Read more...]