Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Special Men: Randolph Scott and Dan Duryea

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.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Wonderful tribute to two of Hollywood's best. The only sad thing about their careers is that Scott and Duryea were never in a film together. Wouldn't that have been a treat?

4:06 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Thanks for posting The Folks Who Live On The Hill. I've never seen that. Irene Dunne sings Kern and other rarities is a cd title availabel on Amazon. Well worth hearing and having. Sidebar: In terms of range, comic, tragic, musical, Irene Dunne could very well be, perhaps, along with Julie Andrews, the finest performer not only of her time, but all time. This observation isn't about personal taste but result. Yes...? She was also pretty good looking.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Caftan Woman! I know we share a lot of the same favorites so I'm glad you were able to stop by and enjoyed this. Wouldn't it have been great if they had acted together?

Glad you enjoyed the link to "The Folks Who Live on the Hill," Barrylane. I have sometimes thought how strange it is that Irene Dunne is not as well remembered as other actresses, given the amazing range of her talents, which you mention here. There are so many quality movies showing many different aspects of her abilities...a remarkable lady.

Best wishes,

5:20 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Laura, there is an explanation for that, her not being remembered. Cimarron, Show Boat, Love Affair, Back Street, My Favorite Wife, were all remade in the forties, fities and a little beyond. The satudios kept the original(s) under wraps and for the most part off television, in favor of marketing the newer films. And then, when the time came to let them loose, a generation had been missed. Changing taste and changing times and no TCM. To highlight just how important she was as a star; three films with Cary Grant. In all three, Irene's name comes first.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's sure a good point about how many of Dunne's films were remade -- even ANNA AND THE KING turned into THE KING AND I, and ROBERTA became LOVELY TO LOOK AT. THE AWFUL TRUTH was remade too. Wow, this is a pretty amazing list. I wonder if Dunne's films set some sort of record for being remade?!

Thanks very much for sharing that insight. It seems a bit akin to how audiences are only rediscovering some aspects of film like pre-Codes (and their actors) in recent years because many were kept off TV "back in the day" but are now available thanks to TCM and DVD.

Back in 2008 I listed Irene Dunne as one of my 20 Favorite Actresses, incidentally. I'm planning to update that list soon but Irene Dunne will remain on it! Really love her.

Best wishes,

6:59 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

You have really completed the thesis re Irene Dunne. I think that answers the question...and, of course, she was scandal free and did not die tragically or in poverty. These things should not matter but so often do.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Carl Rollyson said...

One of my favorite Duryea roles is in The Little Foxes, where he plays the not so bright brother. But, oh boy, could Duryea play mean characters (Woman in the Window) and cynical ones (Pride of the Yankees).

4:37 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

I love both Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott so thanks for highlighting High Wide and Handsome which really ought to be out on DVD . Some great Kern and Hammerstein songs including "Allegheny Al", sung (with a little help from Irene!) by the young Dorothy Lamour.
And good to remember Dan Duryea. have you seen the wonderful blog devoted to him - DANDURYEACENTRAL

7:06 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Forgot to add, Laura. I enjoyed reading your review of High Wide and Handsome.

7:07 AM  
Blogger redcon1 said...


For a more sympathetic if still flawed character portrayal by Duryea, check out Chicago Calling.

It's available from Warner Archive and well worth a watch for his touching performance.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Carl, it's been a long time since I last saw THE LITTLE FOXES, that's a good reminder to add it to my list to give it another look at some point. Thanks!

Vienna, so glad you enjoyed the HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME review. I agree, the Dan Duryea Centra site is marvelous!! I especially enjoy the nice photos of him with his wife and kids.

Redcon1, thanks for that tip on CHICAGO CALLING, have added it to my "to see" list!

Best wishes,

2:25 PM  

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