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George Raft

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 26th, 2012, 3:09 pm

Well you Allison are a love and I'm very appreciative of your kind words regarding my book and your taking the time to post a comment on Amazon. Bless you. Must confess, though, that I wish I could do a second edition since not only have I come across really neat photos but also news Raft facts. Unfortunately, the book hasn't been a terrific seller so little chance of that happening.

Yes, it definitely was Archie Mayo whom Raft threatened with bodily harm should Mayo ever again yell at him so disrespectfully - in front of cast and crew yet. Howard Hawks apparently got on well with George -- outside of the coin-flipping incident that I recount in my book. Yet even that was resolved nicely, if you accept George's side of the story.

Bottom line: In many instances George has gotten a very bad rap. There's some person badly in need of psychiatric counselling who posted a terrible Amazon review of my Raft book, based mainly on her intense dislike of George . . . based on, who the hell knows. But she makes some terrible accusations, pretty much calling Raft a pimp well into his sixties.

Was George perfect? Hardly. Was he a gangster? Hmmmm, probably, to an extent, to which even Lew Yablonsky concurs. Did he possess a hair-trigger temper? No doubt. But on the flip side of the coin, was he also a loyal and generous friend who was extremely fond of children (read Sybil Jason's account of his genuine love for kids in my book). Bottom line: He was human. I admire him, respect him and only wish I could have met him.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 26th, 2012, 4:04 pm

Stone, what new details have you come across, you are welcome to send me a PM if you don't want to leave new details on the thread or can I encourage you to do the movie book and put them in there?

I went and had a look at your reviews on Amazon.com she shot herself out the water by recommending another book and then saying she hadn't read it, I looked at her other reviews, she's no taste. I try to review the books I read but I'd never give 1 star review, I'd be honest about my comments, if I don't award 5 stars I really want to qualify it and say it's only my personal taste but then give my reasons. It's must rankle but really this person isn't worth the waste of energy and seems to be living in their own fantasies, porn in his sixties, is that a new one? Is he one of the most controversial stars because of his friendships?

Don't you think his 'gangster connections' were driven more out of a loyalty rather than a desire to circumvent the law? I don't get the impression from your book that he was driven by fear although he was aware of the danger of his associates but perhaps anything that he might have done was out of trying to tread a fine line and these guys weren't likely to take no for an answer.

So many people I read biographies of end up disappointing in some way because they are only human and one gets an impression from the work they leave behind (I've just read a biography of Dickens, an author I love but as a man, he doesn't thrill me at all). George's life had the opposite effect, I was expecting an interesting life, colourful but I ended up really liking the man, despite his connections and hair trigger temper, I just liked him. I'm prepared to think that his connections were formed in childhood and once in that company it's difficult to shake off and he tried to steer the middle ground of not upsetting them whilst trying to live his own life, maybe I look through rose colour glasses but I can forgive the prohibition lorry runs. If he was in at a high level I'm sure we'd know by now (ever the optomist :wink: )

There is a silver lining to not meeting him, this way you can remember him at his best, it might have jarred to see an old or sickly man but heck, it would have been good just to meet him.

How hard is it to gain facts about births and families because I'm British I don't appreciate what it is like in America, we have had regular census's since 1837, you can track a family every 10 years, as long as they weren't hiding, it's easy to tell how big the family was and ages are recorded, usually it's then easy to find birth certificates. I know it's been mentioned here that he might have been born later than 1895 is this because records aren't easy to trace in NewYork. I know myself how easy it is to get sidetracked when searching a family tree, a similar name can distract because the desire to find information is great.
Last edited by charliechaplinfan on May 27th, 2012, 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

RedRiver
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Re: George Raft

Postby RedRiver » May 26th, 2012, 5:03 pm

I'd love to see George in THE GLASS KEY. I like the other version.

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 27th, 2012, 8:36 am

Red River, The 1935 version of The Glass Key is just as good at the Alan Ladd remake. It's a much darker version and Raft sure takes one heckuva beating at the hands of Guinn Williams. Hopefully TCM will air it once they go deeper into their Paramount library.

Allison, it would take me pages to reveal the new stories I've got on George. I do hope that I can do something with them at some point. One thing I discovered from my buddy Robert Davidson (Mack Gray's nephew) was that George was VERY religious. Robert said that whenever George spoke of someone who had passed away he'd always add "God rest his/her soul in peace." Interesting, on a YouTube video I found, George being interviewed back in the early 60s and does just that - more than once.

Yeah, Amazon can really irk me. I don't mind constructive criticism but some of these "reviewers" clearly have nothing better to do than deliver mean-spirited comments. Whoever that person is who slammed George clearly would benefit from anger management. Looney tunes.

Oh, I absolutely believe that George's underworld friendships were based on loyalty. George grew up hard but admitted he didn't quite have guts enough to involve himself completely in a life of crime. Certainly back in the 20s he was on the fringes of lawlessness, delivering bootleg booze for his pal Owney Madden, but fortunately George had his skill as a dancer to keep him (relatively) clean. And don't forget, it was Madden who encouraged George to go into the movies and even bankrolled him. How can you not remain loyal to someone like that - gangster or not. Could never hold that against Raft.


Good point you make about maybe being disappointed if I ever met George. Still, it's a chance I would have jumped at. I've met a lot of old-time celebs and can honestly say each was a gem. They all had Class, and I'm sure George would been just as decent. Both Robert Davidson and Lew Yablonsky said George was very friendly and enjoyed meeting his admirers. Jon Tuska said George was the sweetest, most gentle man in Hollywood. Far cry from the 30s tough guy image.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 27th, 2012, 11:06 am

I'd love to see the earlier film of The Glass Key. Thank heavens you guys have TCM America that delves into the vaults and airs these films, thanks to friends here I've got to see some of the films. TCM UK seems a very different kettle of fish, I'd order the station if it showed what is shown over there but we seem to have the same films repeated so a DVD rental service seems the best option.

That only half surprises me, I'm guessing he was a Catholic because of his German/Italian heritage and often in poorer areas such as where he grew up religion is a big deal. What is surprising is that he left home at a relatively young age and by all accounts didn't spend much time at home when he was young, that the chance of family tradition, religion and superstition didn't have as much chance to rub off as it might have done. I'm guessing it came from his Ma. I wonder if religion was something he had all his life or if he developed a stronger sense of it as he got older? Do you have any links to the youtube interview, or any interesting George titbits? Did he ever go on What's My Line or I Love Lucy? I love seeing celebrity turns in these programmes.

Talking about his Mother makes me wonder if he could speak Italian or even the German of his father?

It also struck me that many stars of the era and even today's celebrities and reality stars often talk about a poor upbringing but when you get down to brass tacks they haven't told the exact truth or in earlier days the studio made up the past history of their stars but George, he really was poor, but even before he found Hollywood, he'd found his way out, he'd turned his hand to so many things to make money and worked hard to be a dancer and entertainer, it wasn't gifted because of who he knew and presumably the charm he had would have helped a great deal in both advancing his career and keeping on the right side of everyone in New York at the time.

It's very easy to be judgemental by only looking at the surface of George's friendships, as your reviewer had already had their mind made up, I'm not even sure he/she had read your book, but the moment they judged that you weren't going to do a character assassination I guess they put it down without looking further. It's a great shame but thankfully others have given great reviews and only people of a similar mind to that reviewer will heed what they say.

I think you make quite a distinction in your book about the guys that George grew up with who went into the racket and the ones that grew up about ten to twenty years behind him, they were far more ruthless and didn't seem to have as much honour, if any about them. I can't hold his loyalty to Owney Madden against Raft either.

People don't just become sweet guys at the end of their life and someone who was so generous of to their fans it would have been swell to meet him. Thinking back to the foreword of your book about the lady who was smitten with Raft but wouldn't get in his car when he stopped for her. How many film stars would stop in a rainstorm? I bet she regretted being too paralysed to the spot to accept his lift to the end of her life, I can understand though, to see someone who's face is usually magnified on a big screen, pull into offer you a lift, she might not have seen him as a person, only as an answer to her dreams.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 27th, 2012, 11:59 am

Allison, there's a lot of neat Raft stuff on YouTube. Simply go to the site and write in George's name. A lot of old TV programs he appeared on: "Red Skelton", "I've Got a Secret", "What's My Line". Surprising to me is that he never appeared on TV with Lucy . . . or showed up as a guest star on "The Untouchables". Lucy was very fond of George and you'd think that with Raft's career not going so well at the time that she might have offered him a guest shot on one of the Desilu programs. Kinda mystifying that she didn't.

As to George's religion, even Lloyd Nolan made mention of the fact, marveling that Raft could play such convincing heavies yet possess a deep faith. As for his hoodlum associations, like George said: He worked the clubs and speakeasies in New York, and during that time virtually all were owned by mobsters. As he later said: He knew them all, and most he confessed admiration for. A couple of exceptions were Dutch Schultz and Larry Fay. And both were kinda looney.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 27th, 2012, 4:14 pm

That will be my treat for tomorrow, although I have watched this tonight, his What's My Line performance, I could watch clip after clip and never get bored, one of my favourites is Fredric March, George's segment is really good, he was fun and very charming and personable. I could see them heading for the Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire route and when he said the only tough guy who can I act that I know is George Raft, I thought what about Jimmy Cagney, he's both too. Here it is, but I'm being good or else I can see two hours evaporating away and ending up having a late night. I do love youtube.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg3hYgX7nVc[/youtube]

I've only watched some Lucy episodes that contain movie stars, my favourite was Charles Boyer but John Wayne was pretty good.

I envy people who achieve a deep faith, I believe it takes practice and it is at odds with his touch guy image, such a nice thing to find out about him, it's beyond what biographers usually discover.

I'm getting more George Raft movies than I realised, mostly later ones, they'll take a week or two to arrive, I can't wait :D
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 27th, 2012, 4:37 pm

One thing I've noticed on watching these YouTubes is that George really comes across as a genuinely nice guy. Maybe a bit shy, but totally decent. He has a sincere smile which is reflected in his eyes. Sure, George may have had his troubles but I maintain he was a good man.

Can't wait to get your feedback on the Raft films you ordered. Feel free to PM me if you'd like, Allison. I just wish more people were aware of Raft. That was the purpose of my book and the radio interviews I've done - to get contemporary audiences to appreciate George's contribution to cinema. If you're interested, here's a link to one radio interview I did.

http://www.modaentertainment.com/MODA-P ... Radio.html


Scroll down to ICONS Radio Hour (a listing on the bottom right side of the page),click on Stone Wallace on George Raft.

Let me know what you think.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 28th, 2012, 4:46 am

I meant to mention that lovely smile,so evident in the What's My Line clip, I've been too used to the studio publicity pictures, the ones I've only seen being the tough guy ones. It's apparent in Night After Night, lots of smiles in that one, not at all a tough guy although he's undoubtedly a shady character, it's quite a winning smile.

He mentions singing in one film, which one is that Stone?

I'm just listened to your interview, it's livened up my morning chores. A full hour of interview about a classic movie star and their movies, they'd be few and far between here and then only for the big stars like Bogart. I've saved page, there are a few interviews there I would love to listen too. Your segment was really good, it never lags or runs out of steam and the interviewer was respectful and knows his movies, it was like listening to a conversation between two old friends about a beloved third friend who is no longer with them, I loved it. I thought the Cuba segment really stood out, possibly because it comes towards the end of his movie career but I thought it too when I read the book, it's only when tested that we know how brave we are.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 28th, 2012, 8:08 am

Many thanks again for the kind words, Allison. I really enjoyed doing that ICONS interview. Actually, before MODA Entertainment went under I helped line up some of the interviews for John M. and Stephen Bogart, as well as writing the bios. Was really sorry when the company folded because, as a classic movie lover, it was my dream job.

As to Raft singing, I can think of two films: He does a corny duet with Gary Cooper in Souls at Sea while both are playing with finger puppets (I kid you not). He also sings a boozy song to Joan Bennett in The House Across the Bay . Can't think of any others at the moment, but it's a good thing George was such a terrific dancer, he never would have gone far as a singer (same goes for Coop)

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: George Raft

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 28th, 2012, 12:43 pm

I'd love to see Broadway, where he effectively plays himself, I'd love to see more of him dance and you touched on it in the interview, George couldn't have played George M Cohen like Jimmy Cagney did, he might have been technically able but from what I've read, Cohen was quite a lot like Cagney and vice versa. I love musicals but more for the dancing than singing, I have every film that Gene Kelly danced in and most that Fred Astaire danced in, so when I discovered Cagney danced too, I was thrilled, but he doesn't dance like the Astaire or Kelly, it's very much from the knees and feet (I'm not at all technical when it comes to dance) but I love to watch him, he was the very icing on the cake in Footlight Parade, it gave him a very different angle to his usual roles, I just wish Warners had capitalised on this side of Cagney a little more. I need to watch Bolero again, it's been a while but I remember I enjoyed the dancing, again he was known for his dancing, he didn't get cast as a dancer enough for me or get a film like Yankee Doodle Dandy which would have shown him as he was a Broadway entertainer, maybe it was the singing voice that stopped any projects in their tracks.

I've heard Gary Cooper singing, Cooper and Raft, playing with finger puppets, how tough guy is that :D

Has the station gone under, that's too bad. Do you know if there is anyway of saving the broadcasts so that I can load them as mp3's onto my computer. I'm technically inept.

Unfortunately I have a busy night tonight so can't spend the evening perusing youtube, I'll have to save that for tomorrow.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 28th, 2012, 1:08 pm

Actually the station has been under for a long time but you can still access the archives. As for as technical stuff, I'm a dinosaur. My era is still manual typewriters. So I'd suggest listening to the broadcasts while you can. Some great stuff there.

RedRiver
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Re: George Raft

Postby RedRiver » May 29th, 2012, 11:22 am

Cagney was what was called a hoofer. FOOTLIGHT PARADE is a guilty pleasure. For all it's fluffy nonsense, it's one of the most entertaining movies I've seen.

Western Guy
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Re: George Raft

Postby Western Guy » May 29th, 2012, 12:37 pm

I agree, RedRiver. A fun musical with some entertaining numbers and not half-bad storyline. Cagney himself admitted that for many years Footlight Parade was his favorite movie . . . then in later years called it "a dog". Can't understand his 180-degree change of mind.

RedRiver
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Re: George Raft

Postby RedRiver » May 29th, 2012, 1:13 pm

You sure have varied interests, Western Guy. Westerns, George Raft and...FOOTLIGHT PARADE!


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