Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Robert Ryan

From Noir City streets to the West
at bad Robert Ryan was best
So rugged and tough
he didn't do fluff
There's Ryan and then there's the rest.

Top: Rod Steiger, Robert Ryan and Anita Ekberg in Back From Eternity (John Farrow, 1956). Above: Publicity still from 1951. Below: Ryan battle Robert Preston in a lobby card for Best Of The Badmen (William D. Russell, 1951). That's it for our November Noir tribute to actor Robert Ryan.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nielsen's Rating

For Leslie--and don't call him Shirley
success would come late and not early
By playing it straight
made comedy great
At least he was tops with yours surly

Actor Leslie Nielsen at Lt. Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun Series and in Forbidden Planet (1956), with Jack Kelly and Warren Stevens.

Leslie Nielsen, R.I.P.

From Canada came Leslie Nielsen
To movie folks he was appealsome
In drama---no fame
Then "Naked Gun" came
At end of career he had real fun

Racket Bluster

A canary who who murdered "da boys"
loved danger but didn't like noise
She lived on a diet
of strict peace and quiet
A silencer's one of her toys

She hates the racket, get it? No, Lizabeth Scott is not a hit-woman in The Racket (John Cromwell, 1951), she's a nightclub singer caught between racketeer Robert Ryan and crusading police captain Robert Mitchum. In addition to the credited director, Mel Ferrer, Tay Garnett, Nicholas Ray and Sherman Todd all shot scenes for controlling producer Howard Hughes. It's a remake of a Hughes produced film of the same name from 1928.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Asleep with the Dishes

Down deep in the cold, murky drink
Where skeletons go when then sink
A siren is calling
a sailor who's falling
The fella should see a good shrink

Robert Ryan has a recurring nightmare in Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir, 1948). Watch the sequence on youtube, here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shell-Shock and Awe

He's frightened and starting to sweat
His nightmare is getting him wet
A dame in the deep
is haunting his sleep
They're coming for him with a net

Joan Bennett with Robert Ryan, a navy vet with a bad case of shell-shock in Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir, 1948). Watch Ryan's surrealistic, Freudian-drenched nightmare on youtube, here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shore Loser

She walks in the sand to unwind
The shell-shock has damaged his mind
And there on the beach
together they breach
her marriage to painter who's blind

Navy vet Robert Ryan gets tangled in a love/hate triangle with married couple Joan Bennett and Charles Bickford in Woman On the Beach (Jean Renoir, 1947). Image source: Joan Bennett Tribute Page.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Worst Thanksgiving

The perfect host never complains
He's gracious when he entertains
If company's starving
he does all the carving
and serves them up white meat and brains

Director William Castle's traditional dinner of stuffed Hitchcock and ham. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cowering Inferno

A rich and unlikeable guy
is ditched in the desert to die
His wife plays it cool
by dipping in pool
and sipping martinis, bone-dry

Robert Ryan, Virginia Mayo and William Lundigan star in the 3D film Inferno (Roy Baker, 1953). Image source: filmforum.org and briansdriveintheater.com. November Noir continues after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Odds and Endings

She acts like she won't acquiesce
The fact is, her "no" is a "yes"
Describing a killing
this sicko finds thrilling
which leads to her state of undress

Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame are exposed in Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Odds Against the Louse

He runs, but it's really to late
He's lost before leaving the gate
He's out of the race
Won't win, show or place
His handicap? Hobbled by hate

Waitress Shelly Winters is his long suffering girlfriend of racist Robert Ryan in the heist film Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959). A decade earlier this noted Hollywood liberal had convincing played an anti-Semite in Crossfire (Edward Dymytryk, 1947). Both films costarred Gloria Grahame. Image source: slantmagazine.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Odds Man Out

The odds they are fighting are long
Their plan is all right, but they're wrong
To black man add bigot
and turn on the spigot
Oh why can't we all get along?

Harry Belafonte, Ed Begley and Robert Ryan fight Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959). There are several beautiful frames from the climax of the film on the very cool blog Six Martinis and the Seventh Art, here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blight and Day

A journey from darkness to light
Towards day and away from the night
Two souls, once alone,
together are thrown
The damsel will rescue the knight

Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino in
On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952) Image source: John K. Stuff!; Glenn Kenny's Some Came Running.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pounding a Beat-Down

Jim Wilson knew crime -- how he knew it!
When a lame lie got told, Jim saw through it.
A blonde makes a slip,
some crumb offers lip...
Then WHAM! "Why'd you punks make me do it?"

He's prowling, our battering boy,
For lowlifes his fists can destroy;
His home-life's no fun
Once thrashing is done...
Just thoughts of stale "Noo-it duh joy."

Mrs. Henry Windle Vail

Limericks by . Robert Ryan and Cleo Moore in On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952). B-girl Moore is interrogated by Ryan's brutal cop, Jim Wilson. She applies a perfume called "Nuit de Joie" -- which she mispronounces in a poignant sort of way.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sleazy Does It

The girls that he meets aren't nice
These girls can be had for a price
They hang out in bars
and backseats of cars
and ev'ryone knows them in Vice

Cop Robert Ryan is given the once-over by hooker Nita Talbot in On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952). Image source: Film Walrus Reviews

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Punch and Duty

No talker, he's more of a hitter
A garbageman beating the litter
This cop likes to bash
on criminal trash
I guessing he's probably bitter

Robert Ryan rages in On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952). Image source: John K. Stuff.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Dangerous Sound

It pounds in his head like a drum
his hatred of criminal scum
Down dark dirty streets
confessions he beats
While loathing the thug he's become

Robert Ryan lays into a suspect in On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952). Image source: John K. Stuff. The film's score is one of Bernard Herrmann's greatest, its pounding, driving opening (using an anvil) giving way to a lovely romantic theme, "Viola d'Amour", just as the film shifts from urban to rural, from dark to light.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wrecks and the City

With hookers and lowlifes and dope
a cop's at the end of his rope
But then, while away,
encounters a Ray
of love and renewal and hope

Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino find themselves On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952), a rare romantic and optimistic note in the Ryan filmography. The upbeat ending was forced on director Ray, who wanted Ryan's troubled cop to return to the city, albeit as a changed man.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Be Scared, My Lovely

He glowers the length of the hall
He towers and makes her feel small
A dark silhouette,
he looms like a threat
A shadow that's casting a pall

Ida Lupino is overwhelmed by handyman Robert Ryan in a production still from Beware, My Lovely (Henry Horner, 1952).

Saturday, November 13, 2010


They say that good help's hard to find
that's sound in both body and mind
When hiring a man
be sure as you can
he isn't the strangling kind

Handyman Robert Ryan menaces Ida Lupino in Beware, My Lovely (Harry Horner, 1952). Image source: Twenty Four Frames

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mash by Night

She claws at him under his shirt
Together they roll in the dirt
To hubby she's married
His baby she carried
But wants to give boyfriend a squirt

Robert Ryan and Barbara Stanwyck Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Reel Deal

When watching the great Robert Ryan
he acts like he's not even tryin'
As tough guy or heel
he always seems real
Whatever he's selling, I'm buyin'

Actor Robert Ryan was born on this day in 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. Read an article on Ryan's childhood in Chicago, here. Above: Publicity photos for Act of Violence and Caught, both from 1948.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Can't Cheat with an Honest Man

The waves rise and crash against rocks
as sailors leave wives at the docks
And while they're away
the housewives will stray
Like hens that are left with the fox

Barbara Stanwyck has an affair with projectionist Robert Ryan in Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952), where the roiling sea is used as a metaphor for their elemental passion. The film opens with what amounts to a short documentary from fishing to cannery, where Marilyn Monroe works on the assembly line.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Splash by Night

He's boiling and ready to bust
She's burning and set to combust
A duo in heat
they screw in deceit
Two fueled by a fiery lust

Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Ryan (above) torridly Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952), where it isn't fire, but the violent sea which is used as a visual leitmotif. Clash is a romantic melodrama of infidelity. But is it a noir? There's no crime as such, but the threat of sexual violence hangs over the film. The script was based on a play by Clifford Odets. Ryan and other male characters refer to beating, whipping, strangling and cutting up women, and the young couple played by Marilyn Monroe and Paul Andes (below) play-fight and joke about violence throughout. If that isn't noir, who cares?