FRIDAY REVIEW

A performer of class

Glenn Ford.  



RANDOR GUY

Many of his films became classics. But Glenn Ford, who turned 90 recently, never got the recognition he deserved.

He is one of the last few survivors of the golden age of Hollywood. He is Glenn Ford and he turned 90 recently. Celebrations were organised to greet him on the occasion. For instance, there was a screening of `Gilda,' a film noir classic starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, at a packed theatre in Los Angeles. The tickets were sold by advance booking even before the box office opened. Enough proof that he continues to be a crowd-puller. Many of his films were not only box-office hits but also created movie history and were hailed as classics. The list is long but some are unforgettable such as `Gilda' (1946), `The Loves of Carmen' (1948), `The Man From Colorado' (1948), `The Big Heat' (1953), `The Blackboard Jungle' (1955),.'Ransom' (1955), `Teahouse of the August Moon' (1956) and `3:10 To Yuma'(1957).

Tamil version

`The Loves of Carmen,' which also has Rita Hayworth, was remade in Indian languages including Tamil and Hindi by Jupiter Pictures. It was called `Rani' and P. Bhanumathi played the female lead in both the versions. But in the Tamil version S. Balachandar was the hero, and in Hindi it was Anoop Kumar (Ashok Kumar's brother). Born on May 1, 1906 in Quebec, Canada, Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford took his professional name from the Canadian town Glenn and became famous as Glenn Ford. The family relocated to southern California and settled in Santa Monica where Ford went to school. He was drawn to theatre while at school and decided to become an actor. He went East to seek opportunities on the stage and finally made an impact in 1935 on Broadway in the controversial play, "The Children's Hour" by playwright Lillian Hellmann. After a short film in Hollywood, he took his bow in `Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence' (1939). He soon began to get noticed by the major studios but the Second World War interfered with his movie career.Back after service in the war, he hit the headlines in 1946 with two major movies, the most successful being `Gilda' and the other is `A Stolen Life' with Bette Davis.Directed by Charles Vidor, `Gilda' is the story of a casino-owner with secret dealings, who befriends a loner (Glenn Ford). The casino owner has a mistress (Rita Hayworth) who is the loner's former lover. The love triangle has many shades including theunderplayed attraction between the two men. The onscreen Hayworth-Ford chemistry, catapulted both to stardom.The movie became famous for the song-dance sequence by Hayworth. In it she strips nothing more than her gloves to the song, "Put the blame on Mame" but fills it with eroticism that thrilled the Post-War movie-goers. After the critical and thumping box-office success of `Gilda,' the Ford- Hayworth pair became a popular one and they made five more films. Another successful one, `The Loves of Carmen,' tells the torrid tale of an ambitious and ruthless gypsy woman (Hayworth) with whom a soldier (Ford) falls in love.

Finest film

His finest film is `3:10 To Yuma.' One of the early `psychological' Westerns directed by Delmer Daves, it is about a convict (Ford) to be taken on a train (hence the title!) by the sheriff. Ford comes up with a brilliant performance well supported by Hefflin. Other Glenn Ford westerns include, `'The Fastest Gun Alive' (1956), `Jubal' (1956) and `The Desperadoes' (1943). The memorable `Blackboard Jungle' (1955) is based on a novel by Evan Hunter. It is about a teacher in a New York slum school who ultimately wins the respect of his tough students. It has the song, "Rock around the clock" by Bill Haley, which was a major attraction.

Sense of humour

`The Teahouse of the August Moon' (1956) brings out Ford's excellent comical talent. Marlon Brando plays a native Okinawian in it. Critics and audiences felt that Ford scored over Brando by putting him in the shade in many sequences! His `Pocketful of Miracles' (1961), directed by Frank Capra, was a remake of the classic, `Lady for a Day.'`The Big Heat' (1953), a Fritz Lang film noir classic, has Ford playing an honest cop. Lee Marvin is in it too and steals the movie from Ford! Other mention-worthy movies include `Superman' (1978), `Is Paris burning?' (1966), `Cimarron' (1960) and `The Gazebo' (1959).Despite a successful career, Glenn Ford never won an Oscar nor did he receive any honorary award from the American Film Institute or any such body. Many critics sincerely felt that he was one of the most underrated stars in Hollywood. The lack of recognition never upset him. Instead, he worked hard to invest his roles with class and quality.