Edward G. Robinson

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

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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Re: Middle of the Night (1959) with Fredric March & Kim Novak.
I haven't seen this movie in a long time, but remember it as among the first that taught me that March and Novak were two distinctive talents separated by a generation. I'd love to have seen Eddie play this part too, but hope that this film reappears sometime for evaluation from an adult perspective. Of course, anything written by Paddy Chayefsky deserves an audience too. Why, I wonder, is this a seemingly "lost" film?

Btw, I finally came across that Chaz Palmintieri tribute to Robinson on TCM long enough to catch that wonderful Dostoyevsky paraphrase from The Brothers Karamazov that Edward G. Robinson used to describe the craft of acting, and thought that others might enjoy it too:

'Every one of us bears within him the possibility of all passions, all destinies of life in all its manifold forms. Nothing human is foreign to us.'
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Moira, I love Five Star Final! it's message is still current, Karloff is quite creepy as the pretend preacher, and the the parents suicide is quite harrowing. The fathers talk on the phone to his daughter as he "prepares to join mother" is chilling to say the least. Great movie.
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moira finnie
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Five Star Final (1931)

Post by moira finnie »

I'm so glad that others have seen and appreciated the truly classic Five Star Final, Arkadin. The father whom you refer to in your post was beautifully played by H.B. Warner, whose spare work was economical and deeply affecting in this film, as were most of the roles I've seen him play. The mother was played touchingly by Frances Starr, a nearly forgotten actress. The quality of this film and all the performances should make it a good choice to be issued on dvd.

One note: in his autobiography, "All My Yesterdays", Edward G. Robinson mentioned that the Warner Brothers film was fortunately based on a well written play by former newshound Louis Weitzenkorn and was well cast, but he bemoaned the cheesy production values of the nearly bankrupt, almost poverty row studio during that period. Allegedly an observant viewer can see that the the use and reuse of paper thin flats for the walls of Eddie's office shake whenever someone enters or exits the set. The actor claimed that when he slammed the door of his office, you could easily see the walls shiver, and almost collapse! I've tried to view this movie whenever TCM trots it out 'cause it's so darned good, but haven't detected that lack of verisimilitude just yet.

Robinson's book, btw, is a good read, though I suspect that Robinson's interesting life and career deserves a deeper analysis from an objective current writer of the calibre of a Joseph McBride, Scott Eyman or Eric Lax.
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Post by cmvgor »

THE ONE THAT'S MISSING

I have yet to get an opportunity to see House Of Strangers (1949).
Robinson stars as a successful powerhouse running his family-owned bank, and dealing with his four sons.

Now I have seen the very good 1954 remake entitled Broken
Lance
, which puts the same story into a western ranch setting.

And I've seen the very, very bad 1961 remake entitled The
Big Show
, which places a family of circus acrobats into the action.

Papa does something bad that rates prison time. The son that loves him
most takes the rap and does the time. There are conflicts with the resentful sons who feel less favored by Papa. As I understand it the wrongdoing starts with banking fraud in the first movie, goes to range
war action in the second, and then to putting up a trapeze with worn turnbuckles in the third. These last two I've seen. Now I would like to
see someone air House Of Strangers so I can see the first one.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
--Bret & Bart's Pappy
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Post by MikeBSG »

In Charlton Heston's memoir "In the Arena," he mentions how Eddie G. Robinson would be one of the first on the set during the filming of "soylent Green," long before he had to be, perhaps simply to be around moviemaking one last time. It was a pretty moving passage.
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Post by cmvgor »

Forewarned by TCM, I saw Larceny, Inc. last night, and taped it to
see at least once more. Robinson's droll performance spot-on as usual.
Recognized, before it was mentioned by Osborne, the similarity to Woody
Allen's ripoff Small Time Crooks. For me the revelation was Broderick Crawford's dumb-lummox performance as one of the henchman.
A very good production, and I'm seeing it again soon.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
--Bret & Bart's Pappy
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Post by CoffeeDan »

Dewey1960 wrote: This evening's film is ON THE WATERFRONT with the focus being on the questionable connection between Elia Kazan's dubious dealings with HUAC and how it relates to the character of Terry Malloy (Brando) in the film. Interesting, too, that Lee J. Cobb figures so prominently in this film! (Was "Friendly" meant to be McCarthy himself?)
Nope -- just the opposite. Johnny Friendly and the mob represent the Communists who were taking over the Hollywood trade unions in the 1940s. That's why the House Committee on Un-American Activities was formed -- to investigate charges of Communist favoritism in the unions that was preventing many of the rank-and-file from getting jobs.

Terry Malloy represented Elia Kazan, screenwriter Budd Schulberg, and other ex-communists who knew what was going on and spoke out against it, often at great personal and professional sacrifice. ON THE WATERFRONT presents their most vociferous denouncement of Communism.
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Vienna
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by Vienna »

Enjoyed all the comments on Eddie G. Will watch out for FIVE STAR FINAL.
I was pleasantly surprised by one of his films new to me - VICE SQUAD, made in late 50s I think.
Robinson is a captain of detectives in a precinct and the plot is really just a day in the life of this man who has to cope with various crimes during that one day. Not a second is wasted. The supporting cast includes Porter Hall, Barry Kelley , K.T. Stevens and a very under used Paulette Goddard who is only in a few scenes.
It reminded me of Bogart's THE ENFORCER.
Such a pleasure to find an unknown (to me) film so enjoyable. I'll be watching it again!
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JackFavell
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by JackFavell »

Oh you have got to see FIVE STAR FINAL. It's a great movie.

I think Robinson is always surprising. I don't mean in a bombastic way, but in his subtlety. For me the most interesting of his performances are in films like Dr. Erlich's Magic Bullet, or The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse. These quiet deeply felt performances are not what we think of as typical of Robinson, we tend to think first of Little Caesar or Key Largo or The Sea Wolf. He's so good at playing these monsters, because he gives them humanity, and even a touch of banality. but I think his thoughtful characterizations are actually more indicative of who he really was.

My favorites are:

Scarlet Street
Tales of Manhattan
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
Double Indemnity
Five Star Final
The Whole Town's Talking
The Stranger
Tiger Shark
Brother Orchid
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by charliechaplinfan »

He's such an enjoyable actor to watch, I would watch a film just because he's in it.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
RedRiver
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by RedRiver »

For such a threatening crime boss, I agree the actor was at his best in softer, more sympathetic roles. OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES, Fritz Lang's haunting SCARLET STREET, and his most memorable, Keyes in DOUBLE INDEMNITY. He gives the best performance in that well cast movie.
Western Guy
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by Western Guy »

Alison, I agree 110%! Eddie is always an enjoyable actor to watch. IMO, he never gave a bad performance, not even as Dathan in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, which some critics - and even Eddie's grandaughter, Francesca - dismiss as not Eddie's finest onscreen moment - miscasting. I disagree. Okay, maybe there are moments when you expect Dathan to light up a cigar and snarl "Nyaahh", but, heck, his is one of the most entertaining parts in the picture.

He was just consistently fine: From LITTLE CAESAR to his moving performance as Sol Roth in his swan song SOYLENT GREEN.

And his range was amazing. For a fella with limited physical attributes: short of stature, bulldog-faced, he could go within just a few years from the loving Norwegian father in OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES to the ruthless Johnny Rocco in KEY LARGO -- and he's completely believable in both roles.

Confession: As much as I admire George Raft, I would have to say Eddie G. is my favorite actor. He NEVER disappoints.
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by movieman1957 »

I always enjoyed his lighter movies too. "The Whole Town's Talking" and things like "Brother Rat" along with "Our Vines Had Tender Grapes" showed a side we needed to see more. He must have had fun changing it up.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by Western Guy »

Hope you don't mind the correction, movieman. I think you meant BROTHER ORCHID. Can't quite picture Eddie, as versatile as he was, as a military cadet.
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Re: Edward G. Robinson

Post by Rita Hayworth »

charliechaplinfan wrote:He's such an enjoyable actor to watch, I would watch a film just because he's in it.
I agree with you Allison ... and he is one of those rare actor that shines in pretty much every role that he has done in his career.
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