The world was all agog when Nik Wallenda performed the impossible recently. We know that he was probably only thinking as he made his way across the wire above Horseshoe Falls, "What would Gilbertito do?"
moirafinnie wrote:BIG NEWS!!
On Sunday, June 24th at 9:30pm ET, The Big Circus (1959) is going to be shown on TCM!!
Roland plays Zac Colino, the aerialist who will attempt a death-defying feat crossing Niagara Falls on a wire in a desperate bid to keep the circus afloat. I saw this as a little kid and bought the whole nine yards of this movie. I haven't seen it since, though it came out on DVD about a year or so ago.
Made by Irwin Allen (well, what can I say?) and directed by a craftsman, Joseph Newman (711 Ocean Drive, The Human Jungle) who sometimes did better than expected, it features Victor Mature, Kathryn Grant,Vincent Price, Red Buttons (again?), Rhonda Fleming, and in their last appearance together on screen, Gilbertito's old pal, Peter Lorre--who was in rough shape during this movie, poor soul. The movie always gets poor marks for sophistication among reviewers then and now, but high ones for the can-do spirit of the poor actors trapped in this circus vehicle. You just know that GR is going to be one of those who helps to keep everything afloat--though I don't remember how his walk across the falls came out.
A week or so ago I woke up way early to find Gilbert on my TV set. It was a great way to start the day!
I missed most of Beneath the 12 Mile Reef. Imagine my delight when another watery GR movie came on right after! Yay!
Underwater! is what I would consider a great B movie. First of all the cast was made up of old pros and younger stars who all seemed to have a sense of humor. Jane Russell, GR and Richard Egan traded quips like they were acting out His Girl Friday, not some silly story about treasure hunters seeking gold bars on a lost Spanish galleon. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, except of course when poor Gilbert was having an attack of the bends. Hey, I'd be having a good time too if I got to spend a shoot with Gilbert in a swimsuit.
Also along for the ride was not-so-baddie Joseph Calleia, so my morning was complete! He played a snaky garbage scow captain who quickly catches on that our travelers are not really on a scientific expedition. But surprise! Calleia was not really a garbage scow captain, he was a pirate who pulls up alongside treasure hunting boats and steals the booty. The script did a good job of likening Calleia to the sharks that infested the waters near the lost ship. I only wish GR and Calleia could have had more scenes to themselves, it was a treat watching these two try to outmaneuver one another verbally.
Anyway, the film was really fun, and actually had me on the edge of my seat a few times over, especially worried over whether GR would make it to the end of the voyage, or would be lost to the bends or the sharks. GR seems to have been used in the 50's primarily for suspense purposes, as the guy who is probably going to get killed before the end of the film. The only not so great part of the film were the cheesy underwater shots of the miniature galleon, and the way it broke apart like styrofoam in the long shots.
All of this reminds me that I saw The Big Circus a few weeks before Underwater! That movie was only redeemed by Gilbert as an aerialist who has lost his nerve. He gives a really fine performance.
I enjoyed the parts of Underwater! with GR too, Wendy. It's hard to believe now, but that Howard Hughes production was hugely controversial because of the display of Ms. Russell's ample charms (in a one piece bathing suit, yet). How times have changed!
The Big Circus was highly entertaining, even if the romance of Kathy Crosby with Red Buttons strained credulity. Good thing that Gilberto got his mojo back at Niagrara Falls--even if it was in response to Victor Mature's "tough love" approach to circus management. I wish that Peter Lorre had more screen time with Roland, though it was fun to see the two old pals together briefly. Did anyone else think that Rhonda Fleming's public relations gal was pretty unlikely in 1959? Also, would being the mouthpiece for a flea-bag circus really be desirable? And what kind of slow news day was it that brought out the "big guns" of journalism, including that hackmeister, James Bacon himself, to lap up the booze and chow of the circus while watching a lion wreak havoc until Vic subdued him? Oh, gee, I just remembered that Mature knew all about lion-wrangling from his days on the set of Samson and Delilah when he wrestled an old stuffed lion rug into submission.
The Epitome of a Star by Jan Lucas The son of a matador, graceful Gilbert Roland seemed destined for the bull-ring. But in 1911 his family fled the Mexican Revolution, settling in California where teenaged Roland was recruited as a movie extra. Stand-out handsome, he readily found bit-parts, then fame as a “Latin Lover” leading man. Talkies killed the careers of other silent-era Romeos, but Roland’s silky voice ensured a seamless transition.
A ladies’ man off-screen, Roland’s legendary liaisons included stars like Norma Talmadge and Clara Bow. Nervy as any toreodor, his audacity eventually worked against him. “He’d been blackballed because he’d been caught messing around with one of the top producer’s wives,” said an incredulous Henry Darrow. “Those guys played poker together!”
The small, supporting roles available to Roland in the 1940s might have signaled a dying career. Instead, his talent, panache and work ethic made an indelible impression on critics and fans. Kent McCray first saw him on the set of Bonanza. “I really marveled at his creativity as an actor. And when the time came for him to replace Frank Silvera on Chaparral, I was more than thrilled because I always respected his work, having seen him in many different movies.” Calling him a “superstar”, McCray found Gilbert Roland was always on time for work and always prepared. “He was a sheer joy.”
Susan McCray remembered him as the epitome of a star, wowing her when he entered the casting office with an exquisite black and gold walking-stick and said, “I am going to use this in the show. This is priceless to me, and I want it to be used in this role so that it shows the character and fineness of the man [Don Domingo Montoya].” To her, Roland was “exceptional and he was in fact a dynamic character and a charmer. Even at his age at that time, just charming! You could not resist that feeling of your heart pounding when you looked at him.”
Coming face-to-face with Gilbert Roland, Henry Darrow was in awe, but if his heart pounded, it was not entirely due to the older man’s star-power.
As a young stage-actor, Darrow was impressed by the on-screen élan of Roland’s Cisco Kid. “He’d put his hands on his hips, but not like with the thumbs to the back. He’d put his hand on his hip like a bullfighter, with his thumbs to the front.” Imitation being the sincerest flattery, Darrow copied the pose and was comfortable using it until Gilbert Roland appeared on the set of The High Chaparral.
“And all of a sudden, here he is walking toward me and I’ve got my hand on my hip and I’m thinking, oh, my gosh, this is his bit! That’s the man I stole this from! I didn’t know where to put my hands at the beginning.”
Darrow eventually shrugged off his embarrassment. “Then I thought, ah, what the heck? And it was a pleasure working with him. He exuded such confidence and style, it was a delight.”
Roland traveled with his own wine, a 1966 Pommard, and promised fellow oenophile Darrow a bottle. But at the end of the wrap party, Darrow was without wine and sure the offer was forgotten. “He shakes my hand, gives me un abrazo. I’m saying goodbye, it’s been a pleasure and I’m thinking about the wine, that he’s not going to come through.”
Catching the younger man by surprise, Roland said, “Henry, come with me to my car.” Upon reaching the sleek white Cadillac convertible, Roland opened the trunk and presented a bottle of Pommard, declaring, “When Gilbert Roland gives his word, he keeps it.”
Just wandering around the SSO seeing what’s new and interesting to read. I wound up over at the CLASSIC FILM LITERATURE forum and read the VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINES ONLINE thread that April started. Member HBenthow provided this little tidbit that I took advantage of:
Here's a page with links to each issue of Classic Images, listed by issue number and month, and divided by year. Each link leads to a page with links to some of the articles from that particular issue. While only four years worth of Classic Images is archived here, and while not every single issue nor every article from each issue is available, it's still a pretty good resource.
Yessiree Bob. I was able to order two articles from CLASSIC IMAGES about two actresses I’m fond of. One is MARGARET LINDSAY, and the other is RAMSAY AMES. The JUNE 1996 issue is out of print so I had to buy just the articles. The article is entitled: “RAMSAY AMES: SULTRY LATIN BEAUTY” by Paul Parla.
By way of a little background...
PAULPARLA wrote:Ramsay Ames, the sultry Latin beauty of 1940’s B movies remains among the most private actresses to this day. During the early 1940s through the early 1950s Ramsay had become a most attractive fixture in varied mix of genre films, from B westerns to low budge thrillers and thrill-packed serials. It is obvious Miss Ames has left a memorable hold on the many fans still curious about her. She has succeeded in keeping herself out of the “Whatever happened to” limelight for a good many years.
RAMSAYAMES wrote:Well, you know, I have been totally removed from my days in motion pictures, and this was a period in my life I really did not care to speak about anymore...”
I put this here because she does actually speak about the eponymous star of this thread. She speaks about a Cisco Kid film, "THE GAY CAVALIER" she costarred with Gilbert Roland. Here is what she has to say about Gilbertito:
“I did a number of the Cisco Kid westerns with Gilbert Roland. And he was so wonderful with all of us because instead of playing “the big star,” Gilbert would always get us all together and work with us as a team, and he’d always say ‘Even though it’s my film, a film is just as good as everybody in it.’ He was a doll.”
Sorry I went the long way 'round to get Gilbert Roland. I just had to give Ramsay a little shout-out.
Well, that's interesting ! Have you seen all the GR Cisco Kid movies? As you can see on past pages of this thread, my opinion is that Roland is at his best in these rambling low-budget oaters, some of which Gilbert Roland also helped to write. He's funny, dashing, effortlessly sexy as he downed tequila (worm too), kissed a senorita or three, seemed to share any loot that came his way with the poor (though you could never be sure...), shared his philosophy of life with his Pancho, (Chris-Pin Martin), and was so at home in his own skin on the screen in this poverty row material, you can't help wondering how much Hollywood missed by under-utilizing this guy's obvious talent and charisma. Here's a part of what I wrote about his Cisco in the movie Robin Hood of Monterey (1947) a couple of years ago:
[In the Cisco Kid movies] Cisco never hurries and doesn't seem hellbent on anything but instead adopts a series of philosophical poses, which he tries to communicate with his anonymous men (except for one or two who have lines, encouraging them to take baths and always, always relax). Cisco is sort of a zen detective, gathering clues while quietly observing others, and he never seems to commit any crimes, though he encounters Wanted! posters once in awhile, causing him to shrug and say "Heh. Nobody knows my true worth"--a comment that I thought might have reflected the underemployed leading man's sentiments at the time.
The dreamy quality of Roland's Cisco may be a bit short on action, (and I often wondered while enjoying these, how they went over with little kids at Saturday matinees), but they do have a quiet humor and a bemused attitude toward life, with the eminently secure Cisco never getting too upset, though he is quite capable of fencing, rescuing runaway stage coaches and engaging in fisticuffs when needed (and GR definitely did his own stunts which are sometimes quite impressive). In this fascinating moment from Cisco nibbles on a flower he has purchased from a lonely flower seller during one scene, apparently hungry and secure in his masculinity.
Btw, there's a wonderful website, B-Westerns.com where Les Adams, a contributor to the site, recalled an interview with a stunt man from the period who claimed that "more stuntmen were hurt rushing to get into position to watch Ramsay Ames walk across the lot than in all the stunts Republic ever did." She was stunning.
I thought others might enjoy the fine lines, audacious panache, and style of this photo....and that 1953 Cadillac Coupe De Ville isn't bad either...though someone's got to be kidding, no?
Here are some other items found recently too. From the June, 1927 Photoplay for Camille:
and another, casual looking image from the same period with Norma Talmadge and GR.
These lobby cards are from The Blonde Saint (1926), a film that starred Lewis Stone as a rake who kidnaps a girl (Doris Kenyon) by leaping off an ocean liner with her in his arms, paddling off to a speck on the map called the Isle of Life where they discover the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle and battle the plague. Alas, this movie is apparently lost. Gilbert Roland plays a character called Annibale (as in "Hannibal" though the only elephantine part of his role seems to be the height of his hair). He is eventually paired with Ann Rork. Photoplay thought that GR and Rork were the most likable characters in this unlikely tale. Ann Rork, the daughter of Hollywood producer Sam Rork (a manager of Mack Sennett Enterprises, and associate producer of Call Her Savage, among other credits), went on in 1932 to become the fourth wife of the extremely wealthy Jean Paul Getty (they divorced in 1936 after Ann had two children).
I love the caption that was emblazoned on this lobby card of GR with Doris Kenyon:--"You civilized vixen--I want you!"
And this one showing GR with Ann Rork: "Forever, and ever"
Hurtling ahead four decades, I found a charming episode of Death Valley Days (introduced by John Payne) from 1963 about Gilbert Roland as "Don Pedro the Magnanimous, the Emperor of Brazil." Leaving a train for a moment of fresh air, he becomes lost in the Old West and makes friends with a little girl whose imagination makes her capable of belief in the world's possibilities, despite harsh realities. Btw, this was reportedly based on a real incident in the life of Pedro II of Brazil.
Above: GR with Andrea Darvi, his leading lady in an unusual episode of Death Valley Days. (Sorry about the watermark). Darvi wrote a book about her childhood as an actress in the early 1980s called "Pretty Babies: An Insider's Look at the World of the Hollywood Child Star," which is still available on the secondary market. I've only seen a snippet of this book, though Darvi wrote that when she walked on the set of this show and spied GR in his makeup chair, her mother's jaw dropped. Darvi made many memorable appearances on television in that period, including exceptional work on The Twilight Zone (Dust and The Night of the Meek), Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and her huge dark eyes and gravitas made her a perfect choice to play war-torn orphans on Combat (she was on four separate times). Leaving acting in 1966, she is married to a professor at UCLA and is a licensed social worker and lecturer today.
How nice that you guys liked the latest additions. I have come across another program that was recently uploaded to youtube and I've started aGilbert Roland Playlist on youtube which currently has 14 items on it.
One of the real finds recently was a 1965 episode of Bonanza called "The Lonely Runner." It is a different, elegiac love story with GR as the central character (who is not Hispanic). Roland plays a mustang wrangler who is a drifter and is friendly with the Cartwrights, (especially Hoss and Joe). The impending loss of his beloved mare to a sharp horse trader (the snarling Ken Lynch) leads him to risk his freedom to try to make things right. Jim Acton, GR's character, is an individual who can't bear being hemmed in by walls and society's petty rules and he must be free to live. The program was filmed at beautiful Lake Tahoe, and is happily free of the usual boring jawboning back at the Ponderosa. Here are a few screen caps from the show, followed by the video.
Please note: the perennial wrist band only appears on his right arm in this episode.