Alan Ladd was born on this date one hundred years ago, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The handsome Ladd toiled in bit parts throughout the '30s, gradually winning larger roles such as a smiling young animator in Walt Disney's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941); those who only know Ladd from his later roles should make it a point to watch this film for some fascinating perspective on his career.
The year after THE RELUCTANT DRAGON Ladd hit the big time with his sizzling, magnetic portrayal of a killer in THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942). THIS GUN FOR HIRE was the first of several films teaming Ladd with Veronica Lake, which also included THE GLASS KEY (1942) and THE BLUE DAHLIA (1946).
THE GREAT GATSBY (1949), a film long unseen which began to make the rounds of repertory theaters last year. Unfortunately many of Ladd's films for Paramount Pictures continue to be under lock and key, only available in "grey market" editions traded among film fans. His movies such as CHINA (1943), O.S.S. (1946), and THE GREAT GATSBY, as just a few examples, are way overdue for DVD releases.
Cinecon 49 festival, so perhaps there is hope that it will also turn up on DVD. (September 4th Update: Amazing news -- CHINA just came out on DVD from the Universal Vault series!) Likewise, his second film with Young, AND NOW TOMORROW (1946), is out on Region 2 DVD so perhaps it will be released in the U.S. at some point.
Ladd's best-remembered role is doubtless the gallant gunman he portrayed in George Stevens' SHANE (1953). It's a superb portrayal in a very special film; the movie and the performance have stood the test of time and will continue to be long remembered.
Alan Ladd died in Palm Springs, California, on January 29, 1964. He was just 50 years old.
Reviews of Alan Ladd movies posted here to date: RULERS OF THE SEA (1939), CROSS-COUNTRY ROMANCE (1940), THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941), CITIZEN KANE (1941), THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942), THE GLASS KEY (1942), LUCKY JORDAN (1942), CHINA (1943), SALTY O'ROURKE (1945), THE BLUE DAHLIA (1946), O.S.S. (1946), VARIETY GIRL (1947), CALCUTTA (1947), WHISPERING SMITH (1948), THE GREAT GATSBY (1949), CAPTAIN CAREY, U.S.A. (1950), BRANDED (1950), SHANE (1953), A CRY IN THE NIGHT (1956) (producer/narrator), and GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND (1960).
Update: Additional reviews: DRUM BEAT (1954), THE BIG LAND (1957), and THE DEEP SIX (1958).