Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer, Carl Rollyson

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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Carl_Rollyson wrote:More was involved in Curse of the Demon than just arguing about whether a special effect would look cheesy. Tourneur wanted to portray a certain ambiguity about the supernatural. In order to do so, he had to leave the question open: Is there really a demon, or not? He didn't want to resolve the issue. Showing the demon DESTROYS the director's conception of the film. Tourneur and Dana were very angry about the appearance of the demon because they shared the same vision of the film. They had all sorts of battles with Hal Chester, the producer. A whole book, by the way, has been published about Curse of the Demon.
I must respectfully disagree (pardon my persistence: I consider this film among one of Andrew's best, and is perhaps my favorite of his later roles). That concept would be deviating greatly from the spirit of the M.R. James story (not that this is anything new to filmizations), but apart from that, trying to inject ambiguity into the proceedings just doesn't make any sense to me. The whole question of whether or not to have a demon physically appear is perhaps insignificant, because where does Karswell get his powers from if he isn't dealing with things demonic? The wind storm is not imaginary, neither is the attack in the library. Showing these things yet questioning the existence of the demon would rob the film of most of it's impact.

And of course, I'm one of those people who believes the witches in Macbeth to be, quite simply, witches.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

Post by Carl_Rollyson »

To put it as simply as I can: Tourneur believed in the power of things unseen. He doesn't want his scientist to be able to exactly prove or disprove Karswell's powers. He wants Dana's character to be troubled, but not to be certain of what he knows. What you say, though, makes me want to see the film again. You might read Chris Fujiwara's discussion of the film in his biography of Tourneur.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Carl_Rollyson wrote:To put it as simply as I can: Tourneur believed in the power of things unseen. He doesn't want his scientist to be able to exactly prove or disprove Karswell's powers. He wants Dana's character to be troubled, but not to be certain of what he knows. What you say, though, makes me want to see the film again. You might read Chris Fujiwara's discussion of the film in his biography of Tourneur.
I think I can understand something of what you (and Tourneur) are driving at ... the unseen is often more terrifying and disturbing than anything visible. Agreed. However, the point I'm trying to make is this: to be truly frightened of the dark, we must first believe that something is there to be frightened of.

I'm glad, anyway, that I made you want to see the film again (even if I took a roundabout way of doing it!) To me, it's among the best of it's kind, and I'm glad Andrews was a part of it. :)
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Mary-Kate wrote:
Carl_Rollyson wrote:To put it as simply as I can: Tourneur believed in the power of things unseen. He doesn't want his scientist to be able to exactly prove or disprove Karswell's powers. He wants Dana's character to be troubled, but not to be certain of what he knows. What you say, though, makes me want to see the film again. You might read Chris Fujiwara's discussion of the film in his biography of Tourneur.
I think I can understand something of what you (and Tourneur) are driving at ... the unseen is often more terrifying and disturbing than anything visible. Agreed. However, the point I'm trying to make is this: to be truly frightened of the dark, we must first believe that something is there to be frightened of.

I'm glad, anyway, that I made you want to see the film again (even if I took a roundabout way of doing it!) To me, it's among the best of it's kind, and I'm glad Andrews was a part of it. :)
Dana's character, Holden, is very sure of himself. So there is this slow buildup of phenomena he simply cannot account for as a scientist. It is, literally, beyond his ken. That has to mean, as you say, there is some kind of supernatural phenomena. I love that wind scene because it is a game changer. The demon, at least in corporeal form, then appears as an anti-climax. So I don't know how much we actually disagree.

This discussion, it seems to me, is a tribute to the film itself. It repays close attention.
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[url=http://www.carlrollyson.com/_i__hollywood_enigma__dana_andrews__i__115928.htm][b]Author of Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews (Univ. Press of Mississippi)[/b][/url]
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Carl_Rollyson wrote: Dana's character, Holden, is very sure of himself. So there is this slow buildup of phenomena he simply cannot account for as a scientist. It is, literally, beyond his ken. That has to mean, as you say, there is some kind of supernatural phenomena. I love that wind scene because it is a game changer. The demon, at least in corporeal form, then appears as an anti-climax. So I don't know how much we actually disagree.
I love that "buildup", as you term it. It gives Andrews a really good chance to develop his character as the story goes along.

Holden has been such a know-it-all for so long, one can't say he really deserves to know everything at the end. The fact that he doesn't see the demon is fine by me. That Karswell (and we, the audience) see the demon at the end seems appropriate, and, in Karswell's case, deserved ... the truth that no spoon is long enough to sup with the devil is given peculiar force.

I think our chief difference in opinion lies in whether the end is a climax or the reverse; which is perhaps more a cinematic question than anything else. We both agree, apparently, that Karswell was into much more than mere parlour tricks.
Carl_Rollyson wrote:This discussion, it seems to me, is a tribute to the film itself. It repays close attention.
I like the way you put that. I feel less guilty now about hijacking this tread for a discussion on demons. But does anyone have a question on a less chilling topic while Mr. Rollyson is still with us?
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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>>I like the way you put that. I feel less guilty now about hijacking this tread for a discussion on demons. But does anyone have a question on a less chilling topic while Mr. Rollyson is still with us?

OK, I'll go for it.

Dana Andrews replaced Henry Fonda on Broadway in "Two For the Seesaw" and as far as I know, this was his Broadway debut. Was it intimidating to him to not only be facing the NY critics for the first time, but to do so as a replacement?

And if I may be presumed indelicate, forgive me, but Andrews must have been on the wagon at the time as it's hard to believe that the show's producers would have tolerated any bad habits that could interfere with the show's success. You can shoot around a film actor if he's not up to it, but live performances don't allow that luxury.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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clore wrote:>>I like the way you put that. I feel less guilty now about hijacking this tread for a discussion on demons. But does anyone have a question on a less chilling topic while Mr. Rollyson is still with us?

OK, I'll go for it.

Dana Andrews replaced Henry Fonda on Broadway in "Two For the Seesaw" and as far as I know, this was his Broadway debut. Was it intimidating to him to not only be facing the NY critics for the first time, but to do so as a replacement?

And if I may be presumed indelicate, forgive me, but Andrews must have been on the wagon at the time as it's hard to believe that the show's producers would have tolerated any bad habits that could interfere with the show's success. You can shoot around a film actor if he's not up to it, but live performances don't allow that luxury.
Dana was a very confident actor. Although it is true that Seesaw was his Broadway debut, he had been well schooled in the theater and was not at all daunted by succeeding Henry Fonda. Dana had his own interpretation of the role and reviews were good. Some critics preferred Fonda, but that's not surprising. Others thought Dana was just fine. This was a very happy period for him. He was completely sober and never missed a performance--even when he was sick and ran a temperature. He would have done more Broadway if the right play had been offered. In fact, he did do another play which did well in tryouts in Philadelphia but failed in New York. It was about Hyman Rickover. Nothing wrong with Dana's performance. Critics faulted the play.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Dear Mr. Rollyson,

I think I may have found a connection between Carson McCullers and Dana Andrews through the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, that might explain Andrews' interest in A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. And one link I found on Google claims to show the film: http://www.1channel.ch/watch-279052-a-t ... ck-a-cloud

Two of the synopsis I've read indicate it was a live action depiction of the story.

Just wanted to thank you again for visiting us here! It's been so much fun reading all your comments!

Sincerely,
Christy
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Thanks so much for your generous visit here. I honestly don't think that anyone who reads your magnificent biography of this gifted, decent man will fail to be moved and enlightened about how much went into the performances that have only become more burnished and meaningful over time. As much as I want to thank you for writing this, I hope that Mr. Andrews' children are proud of their choice for biographer for their father.

Please visit with us whenever you would like in the future in any area of the site. It would be a pleasure to have your company again.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Thank you Carl, for sharing the Dana Andrews story with such amazing depth and insight. From what you have had to say I can appreciate the man and the actor Dana Andrews. "Best Years of Our Lives" "Fallen Angel" Ox-Bow Incident" --- he never failed to impress. I remember going to the drive-in in 1967 and seeing Andrews in "Hot Rods to Hell." I was surprised as hell to see him and Jeanne Crain in such a cheesy flick. Do you know why he signed on for this? So many talented golden age stars signed on for "B" flicks for cash flow, or out of boredom. What's your take on him doing this film? I'm also curious about "Born Again" (which I haven't seen). This 1978 film about Watergate's Charles Colson's "conversion" also brought back George Brent to the screen. The question is, why would Andrews, or Brent be involved in this project?
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Dear Mr. Rollyson,

I think I may have found a connection between Carson McCullers and Dana Andrews through the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, that might explain Andrews' interest in A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. And one link I found on Google claims to show the film: http://www.1channel.ch/watch-279052-a-t ... ck-a-cloud

Two of the synopsis I've read indicate it was a live action depiction of the story.

Just wanted to thank you again for visiting us here! It's been so much fun reading all your comments!

Sincerely,
Christy
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, CHRISTY. I'LL CHECK OUT THAT LINK!
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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moirafinnie wrote:Thanks so much for your generous visit here. I honestly don't think that anyone who reads your magnificent biography of this gifted, decent man will fail to be moved and enlightened about how much went into the performances that have only become more burnished and meaningful over time. As much as I want to thank you for writing this, I hope that Mr. Andrews' children are proud of their choice for biographer for their father.

Please visit with us whenever you would like in the future in any area of the site. It would be a pleasure to have your company again.
THANK YOU MOIRA. IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE AND A PRIVILEGE TO HEAR FROM SO MANY OF YOU. I HAVE HAD THE WONDERFUL SUPPORT OF DANA'S CHILDREN. YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT I'LL BE TALKING ABOUT DANA AT THE NATIONAL ARTS CLUB IN GRAMERCY PARK ON JANUARY 22, AND I WILL BE JOINED BY DANA'S DAUGHTER, SUSAN. WE HAVE SPOKEN TOGETHER BEFORE--WHEN I WAS IN TEXAS TALKING TO DANA'S FELLOW TEXANS.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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oscotto wrote:Thank you Carl, for sharing the Dana Andrews story with such amazing depth and insight. From what you have had to say I can appreciate the man and the actor Dana Andrews. "Best Years of Our Lives" "Fallen Angel" Ox-Bow Incident" --- he never failed to impress. I remember going to the drive-in in 1967 and seeing Andrews in "Hot Rods to Hell." I was surprised as hell to see him and Jeanne Crain in such a cheesy flick. Do you know why he signed on for this? So many talented golden age stars signed on for "B" flicks for cash flow, or out of boredom. What's your take on him doing this film? I'm also curious about "Born Again" (which I haven't seen). This 1978 film about Watergate's Charles Colson's "conversion" also brought back George Brent to the screen. The question is, why would Andrews, or Brent be involved in this project?
HOT RODS TO HELL? A SIMPLE ANSWER. DANA WAS PUTTING HIS CHILDREN THROUGH COLLEGE. BORN AGAIN WAS DONE AS A FAVOR TO A DIRECTOR, IRVING RAPPER, WHO WAS A CLOSE FRIENDS OF DANA'S WHO INTRODUCED HIM TO TENNESSEE WILLIAMS. THE PART THAT DANA PLAYS IS DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO HIS OWN BELIEFS. BUT HE WAS AN ACTOR, YOU KNOW, AND THAT MEANT TAKING ALL SORTS OF ROLES.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

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Thank you so much, Mr. Rollyson, it's been such an enjoyable visit! We really appreciate your spending time here. Please come back for a friendly visit when you get the time! We'd love to chat more.

One last question if there is still time? If not, that's fine. I was curious about the movie Brainstorm. I really enjoy this tight film, directed by William Conrad. Did Andrews have any special memories of this film, or was it a difficult time for him?

Thanks again for coming. I personally found this one of the most informative and pleasant visits since I've been a member of the Oasis. Dana Andrews is a terrific actor, I am very happy that your book is bringing him into the limelight again.
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Re: Q & A for Dana Andrews' Biographer

Post by Maricatrin »

I'll chime in here as well: Mr. Rollyson, thank you so much for stopping by, and for taking the time to give an informative and courteous response to every question asked.

And here's a video someone on youtube created in homage to The Best Years of Our Lives. I think it's very well done, and would like to share it here ...

[youtube][/youtube]

...No detriment to Frederic March, but Dana Andrews was robbed in 1946.
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