Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Marathon Stars Blogathon


Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema have teamed up for this blogathon. The objective is "to explore the body of work of an actor or an actress from whom you haven't seen many films (or none), but that you're curious to discover." My actor of choice? Tyrone Power.  (And yes, this is the reason for why I've been seeing a number of his films as of late.)


I was already familiar with Power from the likes of The Razor's Edge (which I wrote about in length a few months ago), The Sun Also Rises and Witness for the Prosecution but I was curious to see some of his other work. I opted for six other films of his (because quite frankly I have nothing better to do with my time at the present moment). The films in question?

(1938, dir. Henry King)
(1940, dir. Rouben Mamoulian)
(1941, dir. Rouben Mamoulian)
(1941, dir. Henry King)
(1947, dir. Edmund Goulding)
(1955, dir. John Ford)

More after the jump!


ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND

Reuniting with King, Alice Faye and Don Ameche a year after the success of In Old Chicago, Power was cast as the lead in this musical drama. While it doesn't have the same energy as Yankee Doodle Dandy, it's still deeply entertaining to watch. (There's nothing wrong with an Irving Berlin showcase.)


Similar to what he would do in The Razor's Edge the following decade, Power depicts the titular Alexander as more jaded after his involvement in the war. The idealistic spark in his eyes has since fizzled out. It was perhaps an insight as to what Power was capable of as an actor.


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THE MARK OF ZORRO

Power's career frequently had him in swashbuckler roles similar to Errol Flynn. (Basically Power was 20th Century Fox's answer to Flynn, who was under contract at Warner Brothers.) While he never earned the same legacy as Flynn with these films, they were still popular with the masses.


By many means The Mark of Zorro is an escapist film. (Hey, it was released the same year as The Philadelphia Story and Rebecca after all.) But that duel between Power and Basil Rathbone (as well as the sight of Power in some rather tight pants) certainly makes it worth the watch.


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BLOOD AND SAND

With the success of The Mark of Zorro behind him, Power re-teamed with Mamoulian for this Technicolor-drenched adventure of pride and bullfighting. Admittedly it’s not as well known nowadays as some of the other titles of 1941 like Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon but it’s still entertaining.


His role here has a little more depth than what he was getting at the time. Yes, he's in the charming leading man role he frequently gets but here his Juan Gallardo clearly wears his flaws on his sleeve. Again, an insight into what Power could do as an actor.


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A YANK IN THE R.A.F.

With World War II soon in full swing, Hollywood started putting their leading men in uniform and Power was no exception. Here, he continues the charming leading man role but his Tim Baker is decidedly more persistent in his pursuits (read: ex-flame Carol Brown).


By the end of the year, Power himself became involved in the looming war. Upon the attacks on Pearl Harbor, he tried to enlist in the naval reserves to no avail. (He later joined the Marines in 1943.) That meant his career was on a brief hiatus as the war raged on.


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NIGHTMARE ALLEY

After his stint in the Marines, Power returned to 20th Century Fox with a desire to make a name for himself as a serious actor. He had success with The Razor's Edge and he reunited with Goulding the following year. And in a time where film noirs were commonplace, this one stands out in the decades to come.


Of the many films of his career, Nightmare Alley was Power's personal favorite. His Stanton Carlisle is filled with sly charm and manipulation, a far cry from some of his earlier roles. A shame that he never got any more roles of this nature. (Well, with perhaps the exception of Witness for the Prosecution ten years later.)


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THE LONG GRAY LINE


The same year this was released, Power's contract with 20th Century Fox ended. This gave him more of an opportunity to dabble with the other studios and, more importantly, other directors. One of the first was Ford, who had won his fourth directing Oscar a few years earlier. And Power's work here did show further promise for his career.


Alas, he would not be much longer of this earth. While filming Solomon and Sheba three years later, he complained of pains in his left arm and abdomen. He was transported to a hospital and was dead of a heart attack within the hour. He was only 44. (He was replaced by Yul Brynner.) Who knows what his career would have been like had he lived for another twenty, thirty years?

8 comments:

  1. Excellent article! I haven't seen many of his films (only 3: Witness for the Prosecution, The Razor's Edge and This Above All), but I enjoyed his acting in all those films. He certainly is an actor to discover, so that was an excellent pic for the blogathon. Thanks so much for your participation and don't forget to read my entry as well! :)

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  2. Great post! I love Tyrone Power and can't stop swooning over his beautiful face! He is a wonderful actor as well and his turns as a more dramatic actor are always a treat to watch. Alexander's Ragtime Band is a lovely movie, as well as Blood and Sand. I still have to check Nightmare Alley, though!
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Cheers!
    Le
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com

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    1. He's really great in Nightmare Alley. I should probably check out some of his other film noir work.

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  3. I think he's great in Witness for the Prosecution in particular - also enjoyed Alexander's Ragtime Band. He's also good in The Sun Also Rises, though I wasn't a huge fan of that film in general. Great choice for the blogathon.

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  4. Nice variety of films you chose for a sampling of his work.

    He fought hard to get Nightmare Alley made and was very disappointed when it tanked hard on initial release. I think it came just a bit too early in the noir cycle for how bleak the film's outlook was, a few years later and it might have fit better with the mood of the times. But like many films that were before their time it's undergone more of a reevaluation than any of his others. Looking back now it's definitely one of his best.

    A few of his others I'd recommend if you haven't already seen them are:

    The Rains Came (1939)-He's a bit absurdly cast as an the heir to the throne of India but it's a high quality film with Myrna Loy and George Brent. Also it was the first film to win the Oscar for special effects.

    Rawhide(1951)-A tough little hostage Western. Tension filled with a small cast, he and Susan Hayward share a good chemistry.

    Johnny Apollo (1940)-A disillusioned Ty turns to crime when he finds out the truth about his father.

    Jesse James (1939)-He and Henry Fonda play the James brothers. It's revisionist of course but the two work well together.

    Diplomatic Courier (1952)-This one might be the toughest to track down but it's an effective Cold War drama that's also an early film for Patricia Neal.

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    1. Well, I had plans on seeing Johnny Apollo but I'll be sure to check out the other ones too.

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