50 Westerns From the 50s posted a set of wonderful reminders that today was the birthdate of two very special actors, Randolph Scott and Dan Duryea.
Randolph Scott was born in Virginia on this date in 1898. His film career began in the late '20s and encompassed a variety of films, including the Jerome Kern musicals ROBERTA (1935) and HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME (1937) and the screwball classic MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940), all costarring Irene Dunne; MY FAVORITE WIFE also costarred Scott's good friend Cary Grant.
Scott made many Westerns over the years, but it was in the '50s that he really came into his own. In particular, I count SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956), RIDE LONESOME (1959), and COMANCHE STATION (1960), all directed by Budd Boetticher, among the very finest of the genre. When I think of Scott in these films, his characters encapsulate confidence, wry humor, pain, and determination.
Scott went out on a high note, ending his film career with RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962). Off the screen Scott was a smart businessman and investor; he and his RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962) costar, Joel McCrea, became two of the richest men in Hollywood.
Randolph Scott passed on in 1987. In 2012 Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood paid tribute to Scott after visiting his final resting place in Charlotte, North Carolina. Scott is buried four blocks from his childhood home.
Dan Duryea was born in 1907 in White Plains, New York. Duryea made his mark in both film noir and Westerns, creating unique, memorable villains in many of his films.
My favorite Duryea characters are his tormented alcoholic in BLACK ANGEL (1946) -- a man who briefly glimpses love and a normal life only to have it all disappear in startling fashion -- and his genial bad guy of RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO (1954), who can't quite believe that Audie Murphy's trusting, honorable young deputy is for real.
Among Duryea's other great films were THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944) and CRISS CROSS (1949), in which his character is responsible for one of the scariest, most disturbing endings in all film noir.
Off the screen Duryea was the complete opposite of his movie characters, known as a devoted family man and all-around good guy. My dad has a fun memory of taking a ride on Duryea's boat in the mid '50s when Duryea and other local boaters volunteered to ferry kids at Arrowbear Music Camp across Lake Arrowhead.
Dan Duryea passed away in 1968. His gravestone reads: "OUR POP - A MAN EVERYBODY LOVED."
Classic film fans certainly love both Dan Duryea and Randolph Scott, and we're blessed by the amazing body of work each man left for us to enjoy.