Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Birthday Tribute to Barry Sullivan

Actor Barry Sullivan was born in New York City on August 29, 1912.

Sullivan was a fine actor who had a terrific career which stretched for over four decades, as he moved easily back and forth between leading and supporting roles, gradually settling into character parts.

In addition to his long-running film career, he also starred in the TV series HARBORMASTER (1957-58), seen above, and as Pat Garrett in THE TALL MAN (1960-62).

Over the last couple of years I've particularly come to realize just how much I enjoy Sullivan's work, having reviewed over two dozen of the prolific actor's films, with more I look forward to seeing in the future. I find him an exceptionally compelling actor regardless of the size of his part.

My favorite Sullivan roles include his portrayal of Clark Gable's loyal assistant in ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY (1949); he's seen below on the left. He's a seemingly mild-mannered, bespectacled man who dotes on an unseen invalid wife -- but when his boss is crossed he reveals a coolly lethal side which made me wish we learned a lot more about his back story.

He's also fun to watch as the cagey detective in the mystery TENSION (1949), seen here with Cyd Charisse:

1949 was a great year for Sullivan, as he also appeared as Tom Buchanan opposite Alan Ladd in THE GREAT GATSBY (1949) and elevated BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE (1949) with his charismatic performance (seen here with Marjorie Reynolds):

He was terrific in THE MIAMI STORY (1954), seen here with Beverly Garland; he plays a former gangster recruited to help clean corruption out of Miami. Again, his mere presence made what might have been an otherwise fairly minor movie highly enjoyable, and I chose the film as one of my Favorite Film Discoveries of 2019 for the website Rupert Pupkin Speaks.

I love his part as an accused criminal in the Western DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE (1957). When his traveling party comes under Indian attack in the desert, his character proves to be one of the bravest of the bunch, while also finding time to romance Mona Freeman (seen below). Sullivan and Freeman play two imperfect people who come to accept each other and then find love together.

And then there's his wily, dangerous outlaw in SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDOWN (1962), matching wits with Audie Murphy:

Sullivan, who was married three times, had three children; his daughter Patsy married composer Jimmy Webb and daughter Jenny married rock star Jim Messina.

Barry Sullivan died on June 6, 1994, at the age of 81.

Barry Sullivan films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: AND NOW TOMORROW (1944), LADY IN THE DARK (1944), FRAMED (1947), SMART WOMAN (1948), THE GREAT GATSBY (1949), TENSION (1949), BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE (1949), ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY (1949), NANCY GOES TO RIO (1950), THE OUTRIDERS (1950), A LIFE OF HER OWN (1950), NO QUESTIONS ASKED (1951), CAUSE FOR ALARM! (1951), PAYMENT ON DEMAND (1951), THREE GUYS NAMED MIKE (1951), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) (also here), JEOPARDY (1953), PLAYGIRL (1954), HERE TWELVE MEN (1954), THE MIAMI STORY (1954), LOOPHOLE (1954), STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955) (also here), JULIE (1956), DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE (1957), LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (1962), and EARTHQUAKE (1974).

Reviewed for my Western Roundup column at Classic Movie Hub: SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDOWN (1960).

Seen below, THE OUTRIDERS costarring Arlene Dahl and Joel McCrea.

Some of Sullivan's other noteworthy films not yet reviewed include SUSPENSE (1946), THE GANGSTER (1947), QUEEN BEE (1955), THE MAVERICK QUEEN (1956), FORTY GUNS (1957), A GATHERING OF EAGLES (1963), and PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID (1973).

I highly recommend delving into Barry Sullivan's highly enjoyable filmography, which provides a great many hours of excellent entertainment.

Update: I've now reviewed SUSPENSE (1946) and QUEEN BEE (1955).


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Like you, Laura, I have come to increasingly appreciate Barry Sullivan's performances in recent years. In fact, his name in the cast is usually a marker for me. I view him in the same league as Robert Ryan though perhaps with slightly less range, but only slightly.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

My younger brother's name is Barry and we were told from toddlerhood that the name came from Barry Sullivan. Years later, I asked my mother if she'd been a big Barry Sullivan fan. She said, no, not at all, she just liked the name. Well...I like Barry Sullivan. Momma was all about Tyrone Power and pretty much only Tyrone Power.

By the way, the photo from BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE features Sullivan with Marjorie Reynolds not, as you stated, Joan Caulfield.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to know you have come to like him as well, Jerry. I'm always glad to see his name in the credits -- and it turns up so frequently! He was quite prolific.

Rick, first, thank you for pointing out my mental lapse on Marjorie Reynolds' name -- for some reason I switched her with the other of Fred & Bing's leading ladies even though I knew better LOLLL. I appreciate you mentioning it before it was up there even longer! Last night I had a completely incorrect photo at the top of a post and fixed it thanks to someone else pointing it out. Maybe I need more coffee before posting this week!

Great story about your brother (and as a Tyrone Power fan that's fun that your mom was such a fan). I wonder how many people's names were inspired by movie stars? I know a couple in my own family. Glad to hear from another Barry Sullivan fan!

Best wishes,

3:47 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

If Barry Sullivan is in a movie or guesting on a fave old TV show, I don't have to think twice about watching it. Your birthday tribute was fascinating reading. Thanks.

4:38 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Okay, I like Barry Sullivan too, and when I met Claude, he was the only other Barry she knew of -- coincidence perhaps: Barry Sullivan and Barry Lane attended the same university in Philadelphia, as did Keith Andes, David Brenner, whom I knew well, and Bill Cosby. Cosby was a shade older and a very nice guy; the later events in his life were totally at odds with the man I knew from school.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Thanks for this fine tribute. I’ve always liked Barry - Suspense, The Gangster, Loophole, Bad and The Beautiful, Forty Guns, Jeopardy, Texas Lady. And I agree about his role in Any Number Can Play.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Caftan Woman, I agree, Sullivan's name is always a plus for me. Delighted to know you enjoyed this tribute. Thank you!

Barrylane, that's wonderful background, I love it all. (A real shame about Cosby...)

Vienna, you named a few Sullivan titles I'm looking forward to seeing for the first time! A couple of those, including FORTY GUNS, are in my "hot stack" -- although that stack is a hundred or so movies so it still might take a while LOL.

I wish we had a whole spinoff movie about his ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY character. It would have been fascinating!

Best wishes,

1:48 PM  

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