Giving incredible performances in such films as Crossfire, Inferno, Odds Against Tomorrow and Bad Day at Black Rock, Robert Ryan was one of the most under-rated actors in Hollywood. This group is for those who love and admire this very under-appreciated man.
Latest Activity: May 12, 2016
A tremendously under-rated Hollywood talent, Robert Ryan originally set out to be a journalist; however, with the Depression in full swing at the time of his graduation from Dartmouth College, there were no newspaper jobs available to him, so he took on a number of other jobs for several years. Eventually, he got involved in the theatre and made his way to Hollywood, where he gave incredible performances in such films as Crossfire, Inferno, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Bad Day at Black Rock.
This fabulous actor often played angry, sadistic, hardened, unlikeable characters, and he did so brilliantly...and totally believably. Really, I can't think of any other actor who oozed cynicism, cruelty, and/or malevolence as fabulously as Ryan did...Bad Day at Black Rock, House of Bamboo, Caught, Odds Against Tomorrow, Crossfire, Billy Budd, Lonelyhearts, and on and on. He was spectacular in every single one of those films...his presence was electrifying and completely commanding. Even though his characters are detested, one cannot help but be mesmerized by Ryan's positively sensational portrayal of them.
And yet, he could also exhibit surprising tenderness, as he did to Ida Lupino's blind character in On Dangerous Ground.
He could pull off softer characters as well...Tender Comrade, Her Twelve Men, The Secret Fury, About Mrs. Leslie. And he was wonderful as an aging boxer in The Set-Up.
Although he never retired from films and was making his final movie, The Iceman Cometh, the year of his death, the stage often drew Ryan back. Though he did other stage roles, having been a Shakespeare appreciator, he enjoyed taking part in Shakespearean plays; one of his roles was Marc Antony (opposite Katharine Hepburn's Cleopatra). Helen Hayes said about that portrayal, "What a joy it is to see a real man playing Antony."
And yet, great as Robert Ryan was, he never received the recognition he deserved---in his entire amazing career, he received only one Academy Award nomination...a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in 1947's Crossfire. Not receiving more nominations...let alone awards...was a definite oversight on the part of the Academy.
Although Ryan portrayed a bigoted character in several of his films, in actuality, he was a staunch civil rights supporter; therefore, the characters he played were light years away from the man he really was, and he did it completely believably...the sign of a great actor. It would be easy to portray a character that is exactly like oneself, but to play a character that is totally counter to everything one believes in definitely requires skill and finesse...something Robert Ryan definitely had.
While Robert Ryan may not be a household name like Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant, I do believe he ought to have been. He was as capable an actor as any of the more "known" actors. A viewing of any of his films will bear that out.
Besides entertaining audiences with his brilliant portrayal of cruel, angry, sadistic men, Mr. Ryan also served his country by way of the Marine Corp. Based at Camp Pendleton, California, he spent two years as a drill sergeant. Kind of fitting that his birthday is on Veteran's Day. (November 11, 1909 - July 11, 1973)
Here's a great tribute site for the sensational Mr. Ryan...http://www.hillebrander.de/ryan.html
Here's a short TCM tribute, narrated by Ernest Borgnine...http://youtu.be/RTPXzLoKGNk
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