The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby moira finnie » July 11th, 2015, 2:15 pm

Thanks to Paula! I am so glad that she brought up the underrated, almost unknown movie from Anthony Mann, Men in War (1957)*, which gave Ryan, Aldo Ray and James Edwards good roles in a spare, unvarnished story devoid of phony patriotism. I was surprised to read in your book that Philip Yordan had to convince Mann to put more dialogue back into the film after the director had pared it down---it's almost a silent as it is! Clearly, when Mann cast the actor in The Naked Spur, God's Little Acre, and Men in War, he allowed Ryan to play more varieties of characters than he was usually offered.

I realize that Ryan did not have control over who his directors were throughout his career, but could you please offer your assessment of Ryan's best directors? Which ones did he respect and like---and which ones brought out the best in him?


In his early days at Dartmouth, Ryan felt that he might be a playwright and as those who have read can attest, he expressed himself well. During his years on film sets did he ever write much of his dialogue as he grew older?

Thanks again for your insights and I hope that your book earns the widest possible audience--it is an absorbing and fascinating portrait.

___________________________________________________________

* Men in War (1957) can be seen in full .
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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby J.R. Jones » July 11th, 2015, 3:07 pm


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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby J.R. Jones » July 11th, 2015, 5:46 pm


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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby Lzcutter » July 11th, 2015, 8:43 pm

Mr. Jones,

Good evening! Sorry to be so late to the party but we just finished moving and today got away from me.

I have long been a big fan of Robert Ryan. One of my favorite roles of his is in The Wild Bunch and his portrayal of Deke Thorton. I was wondering how Ryan got along with director Sam Peckinpah given how different their personalities and personal beliefs were.

One of the big travesties of that film is that it was cut after its release for US distribution and for too many years, movie goers were robbed of the valuable scenes that explained Deke and Pike's partnership and friendship. Also, did he enjoy working with William Holden in that film? Deke's total disdain for the characters, T.C.(L.Q. Jones) and Coffer (Strother Martin) is one of the best parts of that film. How did he like working with those two?

Thank you so much for spending yesterday and today with us!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby pvitari » July 11th, 2015, 8:46 pm

Hope it's not too late to continue the conversation!

Mr. Jones, the quote from Nanette Fabray is in Laurence Bergreen's biography of Irving Berlin, As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin. Here is the quote:

"His dramatic scenes were wonderfully timed," Fabray commented "but when it came to comedy, he didn't know how to carry a laugh. He would stand there frozen until the last person had finished laughing before he gave his next line."

Bergreen continues about Mr. President's premiere performance: "Even worse, the biggest laugh [Ryan] received was unintentional. At the end of the performance, he sang a patriotic anthem called "This Is a Great Country." It could have been a new "God Bless America," the audience humming the tune as they left the theater, but Ryan flubbed the lines introducing the song. The audience snickered at his confusion, and the drama of the moment was destroyed."

Oh well... Mr. President is available on CD. And if you put "Mr. President Robert Ryan" into a Youtube search, you will come up with several numbers from the cast album. Youtube also has Robert Ryan and Nanette Fabray, "the co-stars of Mr. President," in an episode of "What's My Line" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzprpqJ1PQg. Their appearance was the day after the premiere and there is some talk about Ryan's singing.

To change the subject, before I picked up the bio I would have thought that Ryan and Pat O'Brien would not have gotten along because O'Brien was so conservative politically, but it's good to know they were friends. To be honest, usually I'm not a fan of O'Brien's -- usually I find him too much of a blowhard on screen -- but I really admired his unusually low-key performance in another film he made with Ryan, The Boy With Green Hair. Ryan's part as a child psychologist was quite small, but his character -- warm, gentle, compassionate -- seems to me to be as close to the real man as ever he was on screen.

Finally, this is really for Moira -- you mentioned James Edwards in Men In War. I thought he was also terrific in his small role in The Set-Up with Ryan and if he had been born 60 years later, he'd be an A-list star today, I have no doubt of it. Moira wrote a wonderful piece on him back in 2007 -- here is the link: http://moviemorlocks.com/2007/10/17/jam ... e-a-stand/ Also Patrick Culliton's fabulous article about James Edwards, with whom he was good friends. http://www.houdinisghost.com/jamesedwards.html (Sorry for going off-topic!)

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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby kingrat » July 11th, 2015, 11:14 pm

We've really had some great questions for J.R. Jones about Robert Ryan. I have a couple of others:

1. I'm a big Ida Lupino fan, and love her work with Robert Ryan in ON DANGEROUS GROUND. Although the material in BEWARE, MY LOVELY, isn't nearly so good, I think both of the stars do their best with what they've got and work well together. Did he enjoy working with Ida Lupino?

2. Another question about some of his leading ladies: Did he enjoy working with Barbara Stanwyck in CLASH BY NIGHT? I'd guess that two hardworking pros like Ryan and Stanwyck liked working together. (I'm very put off by the Clifford Odets dialogue, but like the acting in this film quite a lot.) What did he think of Marilyn Monroe?

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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby J.R. Jones » July 12th, 2015, 7:09 am


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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby J.R. Jones » July 12th, 2015, 7:28 am


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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby moira finnie » July 12th, 2015, 10:01 am

J.R.,
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss the life and work of an actor whose best work has only become richer over time. Your book burnished Robert Ryan's status as an individual in my eyes by blending his striking complexity, stringent artistry, and vulnerable humanity in a well-rounded portrait. How I wish he could have known that his reputation only continues to grow--though that acknowledgement might have made the reserved actor rather uncomfortable!
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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby J.R. Jones » July 12th, 2015, 1:14 pm

You're welcome, and thanks to all who participated for their kind words and informed questions.

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Re: The Q & A with J.R. Jones about THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN

Postby kingrat » July 12th, 2015, 2:21 pm

Thank you so much for chatting with us, and even more for writing about one of our favorite classic actors. I look forward to talking with you again, either online or in person at another festival. The best of luck with your book and with your regular reviewing.


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