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Showbizzers I thought I disliked but now I don't: Ustinov, Gibson, Robt RYAN

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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 09:03 PM
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Showbizzers I thought I disliked but now I don't: Ustinov, Gibson, Robt RYAN
Here's the thing. AMC played "Billy Budd" last night. I don't think I'd ever seen Robert RYAN anywhere before. I don't even watch movies. But I remember Terence STAMP. Yet, the AMC host/introducer whasssisnae, who appears to be losing his dentures, almost indistinguishable, said this RYAN fellow never won an Oscar (like my fave O'TOOLE) yet absolutely never gave a less-Oscar performance EVER. And there he was, EVIL in this movie.

I'd always had an image of Robert RYAN as a John WAYNE nobody. Never again.

Also, I've never liked whassisname, Senor USTINOV, yet he co-wrote/produced/directed this thing because it meant so much to him. And it's brilliant. Mr Whassisname-AMC said this brilliant film should have gotten more attention but it was overshadowed by the poorer Bounty film with BRANDO. Also, Mr-AMC now looks like his age has caught up with him and can barely be understood because of slipping false teeth. I'm sorry, I love him.

Anyway, this thing was GRIPPING. The scene with RYAN/STAMP was gripping.

This thread is about people we thought were jerks but aren't. I never liked USTINOV before, my image of him as smarmy. But he was commanding in this movie.

As for Mel, he's always had (way before) had a likeable presence, plus in Vietnam I have fond impressions of AUSSIES (I know he was BORN in the U.S.A., O-TAY?!1) BUT I ramble: "Apocalypto" is running right now, and it is BRILLIANT. So I hate his Fundie self but somehow love him, o-tay?!1

***********QUOTE********** /

Peter USTINOV: /
Robert RYAN:
Mel GIBSON: Look him up yourself
Peter USTINOV: /

Robert RYAN:

Chicago born, distinguished US actor and long time civil rights campaigner, Robert Ryan served in the United States Marines as a drill instructor (winning a boxing championship) and went on to become a key figure in post WWII American film noir and western productions.

Ryan grabbed critical attention for his dynamic performances as an anti-Semitic bully in the superb Crossfire (1947), as an over-the-hill boxer who refuses to take a fall in The Set-Up (1949) and as a hostile & jaded cop in On Dangerous Ground (1952). Ryan's athletic physique, intense gaze and sharply delivered, authoritarian tones made him an ideal actor for the oily world of the film noir genre, and he contributed solid performances to many noir features, usually as a vile villain. Ryan played a worthy opponent for bounty hunter James Stewart in the Anthony Mann directed western The Naked Spur (1953), he locked horns with an intrepid investigator Spencer Tracy in the suspenseful Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) and starred alongside Harry Belafonte in the grimy, gangster flick Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). Plus, the inventive Ryan excelled as the ruthless "John Claggart" in Billy Budd (1962), and two different WWII US generals - firstly in the star filled The Longest Day (1962) and secondly in Battle of the Bulge (1965).

For the next eight years prior to his untimely death in 1973, Ryan landed some tremendous roles in a mixture of productions each aided by his high calibre acting skills leaving strong impressions on movie audiences. He was one of the hard men hired to pursue kidnapped Claudia Cardinale in the hard boiled action of The Professionals (1966), a by-the-book army colonel clashing with highly unorthodox army major Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen (1967), and an embittered bounty hunter forced to hunt down old friend William Holden in the violent Sam Peckinpah western classic The Wild Bunch (1969). Ryan's final onscreen performance was in the terrific production of The Iceman Cometh (1973) based on the Eugene O'Neill play and also starring Lee Marvin and Fredric March.

Legend has it that Sam Peckinpah clashed very heatedly with Ryan during the making of The Wild Bunch (1969), however Peckinpah eventually backed down when a crew member reminded Sam of Robert Ryan's proficiency with his fists !


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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 09:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. Got a link for Mel?
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 09:51 PM
Response to Original message
2. Amazing! I was thinking of Robert Ryan just
yesterday. I hadn't thought of him in years. When I was a little kid, I wanted to marry him; that is, before I dumped him for Roy Rogers.

Robert Ryan was awesome, and if he were still living, I'd again want to marry him, especially now that I know he was an outspoken liberal Democrat.

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Flaxbee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 10:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. Ustinov is the one, true Hercule Poirot of Death on the Nile fame...
Curious - why didn't you like him? He was a fascinating, liberal man.
My sister has this irrational dislike of Michael Douglas; she can't explain it, she just doesn't like him. :shrug:

Ustinov was the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF from 1968 until his death in 2004.

During WWII Pvt. Peter Ustinov was batman to Lt. Col. David Niven.

Look at these quotes:

The habit of religion is oppressive, an easy way out of thought.

I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other.

Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.

Mervyn LeRoy, the director of Quo Vadis, gave me this gem of advice on how to play the Emperor Nero: 'The way I see Nero, this is the kinda guy who plays with himself nights'.

'When Rosalind Hicks, Agatha Christie's daughter, first saw me, she said, 'That's not Poirot.' I said, 'It is now, my dear.'"

I suppose you can't blame Gorbachev , but it is his fault for making America the only superpower.

"You can't fight terrorism without becoming a terrorist yourself." - On the American and British invasion of Afghanistan in 2001

"There was a great campaign to make life difficult for Vladimir Putin when he came in. Nobody ever mentions that George Bush senior was head of the CIA. What's the difference between the CIA and the KGB? Except that probably the KGB are more thorough, intelligent, and more respectful of foreign traditions." - On Russo-American relations

"Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." - On the Iraq war in 2003

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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-13-11 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks for the thoughtful post. Why didn't I like him?
As is almost always is the case with that situation, it's from not knowing enough about him. As I said, my general impression, based on barely nothing, is simpering smarminess. The little I saw was his being supporting characters in a stagey hokey thing, I think the Nero role, a hack job (I thought). Also, back in the day, the Death on the Nile things seemed to be cash cow vehicles for a bunch of has beens. As I say, I didn't actually see them, just glimpses of a slew of cameos for big names with their careers behind them.

(I realize my shallowness.)

So in Billy Budd, which apparently was USTINOV's profoundly personal project (co-wrote, produced, directed), his performance is SUBTLE and intelligent, full of intelligence and vulnerability in a character whose stereotype (captain of the ship) is usually a tough, crass bird. As actor and director, he gives over the bulk of the movie to everybody else, steps into it sparely, and shows quiet command without gnashing of teeth and chewing scenery.

So why didn't I like him before? The Liberalism (of RYAN, noted by the poster above) and humanitariansm of USTINOV, their politics, are separate issues from their talent, no? Although I subscribe to the theory that the more intelligently creative people are the less likely they are to be limited in beliefs the way wingnuts have to be by definition. I had never paid much attention to him before, never saw him in this kind of role and performance.

But, sadly, the host has deteriorated noticeably, could barely be understood!1
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-13-11 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. ON EDIT: It's Turner Classic Movies, not AMC, & the host is Robert OSBOURNE!1
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-13-11 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. Ryan was always a professionnal at his craft.
Every performance seems to be at 100% of his ability, and "Billy Budd" is one of the best movies ever filmed.

I always liked him; he seemed to bring an element of realism to his characters.

Ustinov was always a favorite actor of mine, he led a very interesting life.
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-13-11 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Yeah, on both counts. I'm hoping that my ignorance will be excused. Once again.
Everything about Budd, the movie, was so understated, every performance, everything so (only) necessary. Things that have been done before in stereotypes, here were done definitively. The RYAN character: Military characters have often been observed to be bullies yet craven in their brownnosing to superiors, yet here RYAN pushed the captain as far as possible without crossing into the bravery of overt defiance. And this was a late night time slot, where I thought I'd drift off to sleep, but it hooked from the start, and with the RYAN-STAMP scene there was no turning back.
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