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Dana Andrews (1909-1992) worked with distinguished directors such as John Ford, Lewis Milestone, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, William Wyler, William A. Wellman, Mervyn Le Roy, Jean Renoir, and Elia Kazan. He played romantic leads alongside the great beauties of the modern screen, including Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Greer Garson, Merle Oberon, Linda Darnell, Susan Hayward, Maureen O'Hara, and most important of all, Gene Tierney, with whom he did five films. Retrospectives of his work often elicit high praise...
Dana Andrews (1909-1992) worked with distinguished directors such as John Ford, Lewis Milestone, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, William Wyler, William A. Wellman, Mervyn Le Roy, Jean Renoir, and Elia Kazan. He played romantic leads alongside the great beauties of the modern screen, including Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Greer Garson, Merle Oberon, Linda Darnell, Susan Hayward, Maureen O'Hara, and most important of all, Gene Tierney, with whom he did five films. Retrospectives of his work often elicit high praise for an underrated actor, a master of the minimalist style. His image personified the "male mask" of the 1940s in classic films such as Laura, Fallen Angel, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, in which he played the "masculine ideal of steely impassivity." No comprehensive discussion of film noir can neglect his performances. He was an "actor's actor."
Here at last is the complete story of a great actor, his difficult struggle to overcome alcoholism while enjoying the accolades of his contemporaries, a successful term as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the love of family and friends that never deserted him. Based on diaries, letters, home movies, and other documents, this biography explores the mystery of a poor boy from Texas who made his Hollywood dream come true even as he sought a life apart from the limelight and the backbiting of contemporaries jockeying for prizes and prestige. Called "one of nature's noblemen" by his fellow actor Norman Lloyd, Dana Andrews emerges from Hollywood Enigma as an admirable American success story, fighting his inner demons and ultimately winning.
Chapter 1 Don't Miss 6
Chapter 2 The Patriarch (1881-1924) 17
Chapter 3 "Go Hollywood, Young Man!" (1924-29) 36
Chapter 4 To Be an Actor (1929-32) 43
Chapter 5 "Mediocrity Is Not My Lot" (1932-35) 58
Chapter 6 Holding On (1935-36) 73
Chapter 7 Pasadena (1936-38) 77
Chapter 8 Goldwyn (1938-41) 99
Chapter 9 Fox (1941-44) 117
Chapter 10 Laura (1944) 150
Chapter 11 Stardom (1944-45) 165
Chapter 12 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 191
Chapter 13 The Name above the Title (1947) 199
Chapter 14 "What Is This Thing I Do to Women?" (1947-50) 203
Chapter 15 Hollywood Fights Back (1947-57) 215
Chapter 16 Period of Adjustment (1950-53) 226
Chapter 17 Home and Abroad Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953-57) 238
Chapter 18 Sobriety (1958-64) 256
Chapter 19 Ruin and Recovery (1964-72) 270
Chapter 20 Curtain Call (1972-92) 279
Posted October 26, 2012
Why isn't Dana Andrews a better known figure for the casual classic film fan? Perhaps in part because he shunned the certainties and rigidity that often go into the shell of an icon. He was so good at underplaying the deeply felt human beings he brought to life, with all their struggles, small triumphs, flaws, and hard-won dignity that his acting was overlooked. He worked with John Ford, Jean Renoir, Lewis Milestone, William Wyler, Jacques Tourneur, Fritz Lang and other world-class directors who cherished his contributions to their work. Carl Rollyson's biography of actor Dana Andrews captures something essential in this rather diffident actor who shunned Hollywood blather, becoming a star in several crucial films in American cinema of the 1940s, including THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, LAURA, THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, FALLEN ANGEL, BOOMERANG, & WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. On screen he could handily play someone like Fred Derry in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. He was credible as the protective, determined American as well as a man with serious doubts about where he fits in as the future unfolds. Yet the actor was quite believable as a man whose gaze, demeanor and voice hinted at unspoken secrets and private wounds. Dana Andrews didn't play the Hollywood game, preferring his family's company and his sailboat while he strove to unravel his understanding of his own contradictions with little self-pity and considerable determination. Often closely identified with the duality of film noir characters, the actor deserves more recognition for his portrayals of seemingly conventional men whose calm demeanor hints at, yet masks an inner life riven by yearning, ambition, and an astute mind as well as doubt, guilt and fear. Drawing on Andrews' journals, letters, oral histories and his family's memories, the author creates a rich portrait of a complex man and a fine actor. The book's strengths are the voice that Rollyson gives his subject, presenting his story with sympathy but without minimizing his limitations, particularly, the actor's long struggle with alcoholism. Given that Dana Andrews' quietly authoritative 20th century male is still an essential part of the prototype for the men we know and love today, his life and career have been unjustly neglected. Here's hoping that this biography helps to lift that cultural shadow from this gifted actor's life and career.
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