Yesterday, February 21st, marked the centennial of the birth of a favorite actor, the always-interesting Zachary Scott.
Scott was born in Austin, Texas, and would pass on in the same city on October 3, 1965.
Best remembered as wealthy sleaze Monte Beragon in MILDRED PIERCE (1945), Scott excelled at playing cads, yet he was also very effective in sympathetic roles.
Scott's 1950 films alone serve to illustrate the breadth of his performances. In the least of these four parts, he's putty in the hands of evil Joan Fontaine in the highly enjoyable BORN TO BE BAD (1950), throwing over his sweet fiancee, Joan Leslie, in order to have Fontaine.
In SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950) he's heartbreaking as a man who's unjustly accused of murdering his unfaithful wife, thus facing the tragedy of permanent separation from his little girl (Gigi Perreau).
A child is also the focus of GUILTY BYSTANDER (1950), which might be Scott's finest performance, playing an alcoholic ex-cop strugglng to remain sober in order to search for his missing little boy.
Scott's biographer attributes some of the power of Scott's riveting performance as the wild-eyed, psychotic villain in COLT .45 (1950) to Scott's offscreen depression and drinking, as he sought to come to terms with his wife leaving him for writer John Steinbeck.
Scott's divorce from Elaine, his wife of 15 years, was final Christmas week of 1950, and in 1952 he married actress Ruth Ford, to whom he would remain married until his passing. Other than his unhappy divorce, Scott had a stable home life and was devoted to each of his wives in turn. Off the screen Scott seems to have been a class act, which is always refreshing to learn about an actor one admires.
There's an excellent book on the actor, ZACHARY SCOTT: HOLLYWOOD'S SOPHISTICATED CAD by Ronald L. Davis, published by the University Press of Mississippi. I read the 2006 hardcover edition, and last fall it was republished in paperback. Reviews have been posted by KC at Classic Movies, Kristen at Journeys in Classic Film, and Brandie at True Classics.
Zachary Scott movies reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: MILDRED PIERCE (1945), DANGER SIGNAL (1945), HER KIND OF MAN (1946), STALLION ROAD (1947), WHIPLASH (1948), FLAXY MARTIN (1949), GUILTY BYSTANDER (1950), SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950), COLT .45 (1950), BORN TO BE BAD (1950), LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (1951), THE SECRET OF CONVICT LAKE (1951), LET'S MAKE IT LEGAL (1951), WINGS OF DANGER (1953), TREASURE OF RUBY HILLS (1955), and SHOTGUN (1955).