Edward G. Robinson

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

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dfordoom
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Edward G. Robinson

Post by dfordoom »

Edward G. Robinson had to have been noe of the greatest, and also one of the most versatile, of all Hollywood actors. Does anyone else think this? Do you have a favourite Eddie G. movie?
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Agree 100%, Doom. My favorite Robinson pictures (in no particular order) would be:
THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948)
SCARLET STREET (1945)
WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)
LITTLE CAESAR (1930)
THE SEA WOLF (1941)
TWO SECONDS (1932)
KEY LARGO (1948)
THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE (1938)
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

I don't believe he was really underrated; with a list of films like his and a career that spanned so many years, how could he be? Perhaps not as glamorous or alluring as some of his contemporaries such as Cagney, Bogart and Garfield, but certainly every bit as significant.
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ken123
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Post by ken123 »

Key Largo, The Sea Wolf, The Woman in the Window, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, and House of Strangers are four flicks that show Eddie G at his best. Double Indemnity is another dynamic performance that I don't want to forget. :wink:
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knitwit45
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Mr. Robinson

Post by knitwit45 »

Hands down (for me) is "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" (1945) He put such feeling and tenderness into the part, you just have to believe he was really like that. And considering all the bad guys he portrayed, what a fabulous actor!
"Life is not the way it's supposed to be.. It's the way it is..
The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference." ~ Virginia Satir
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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Dewey1960 wrote:Agree 100%, Doom. My favorite Robinson pictures (in no particular order) would be:
THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948)
SCARLET STREET (1945)
WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)
LITTLE CAESAR (1930)
THE SEA WOLF (1941)
TWO SECONDS (1932)
KEY LARGO (1948)
THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE (1938)
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

I don't believe he was really underrated; with a list of films like his and a career that spanned so many years, how could he be? Perhaps not as glamorous or alluring as some of his contemporaries such as Cagney, Bogart and Garfield, but certainly every bit as significant.
D1960, I think one of the reasons EGR seems to be "underrated" is that he had his troubles with the HUAC and caved in under pressure. He was something of a persona non grata among his peers after that, and his career took a bit of a dive in the 1950s. Although he did make movies and do TV during that period, he kept a pretty low profile until he had made The Ten Commandments.

If EGR had been as glamorous as the actors you mentioned, he probably wouldn't have gotten the kinds of roles he did, those which better suited his talents. I wonder if he would have been as big a star if he had played their kinds of parts. I think he was a character actor at heart, and relished the greater depth such parts gave him.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

jdb1 wrote: "D1960, I think one of the reasons EGR seems to be "underrated" is that he had his troubles with the HUAC and caved in under pressure. He was something of a persona non grata among his peers after that, and his career took a bit of a dive in the 1950s."

Wow, Judith, I had completely forgotten about EGR and the HUAC hearings. And you're right, a "character" actor like Robinson would be much less likely to engender public sympathy. Another actor that comes to mind is the brilliant Lee J. Cobb, who also buckled under pressure. And, similarly, Cobb's career sputtered somewhat during the same period.

Coincidentally, the course I'm teaching this semester deals with so-called "message movies" from the 30s through the 50s. 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?) Thanks again for the reminder on Robinson; I'm sure that info will wind up somewhere in tonight's lecture!
-Dewey
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dfordoom
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Post by dfordoom »

jdb1 wrote: I think he was a character actor at heart, and relished the greater depth such parts gave him.
That's why he was so interesting. Being so unglamorous he should have been simply a charactor actor, but even though he was not the kind of actor who was going to land roles as a romantic lead he still managed to get starring roles. Lots of them. Through sheer talent.
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Something few people bring up is his gift for humor and making it work within all kinds of genres. I consider him the father of the Holy Trinity of Noir (Bogart would be the son, & Garfield the spirit w/respect to R. Ryan as the old horned one!).

He really could do anything as his later roles would suggest. The Cincinnatti Kid marries lots of his old flash with a wistful touch that you can see in his scenes by himself or when he talks to to McQueen during a break in the game. Soylent Green, his last feature shows a real tenderness in his scenes with Heston especially when they eat a meal of "real " food together. His "Going Home" death sequence was touching and fitting for his last film (his 100th!).
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

I just wanted to add that I just got back from my brother's house. He is archiving to DVD all his old VHS tapes part of which is the original Batman 60's TV show. He found an episode with Edward G. Robinson popping out one of the windows and discussing art w/Batman & Robin (who are climbing the building of course!). Bruce Lee as Kato is also in this episode.

As you may know, Robinson was a big collector and had to actually sell a lot of his collection to pay his wife's alimony. They talk about art for about 5 min. Batman asks what he is doing there (an art convention) and he says he's selling off his collection. :mrgreen:
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Mr. Arkadin wrote:I just wanted to add that I just got back from my brother's house. He is archiving to DVD all his old VHS tapes part of which is the original Batman 60's TV show. He found an episode with Edward G. Robinson popping out one of the windows and discussing art w/Batman & Robin (who are climbing the building of course!). Bruce Lee as Kato is also in this episode.

As you may know, Robinson was a big collector and had to actually sell a lot of his collection to pay his wife's alimony. They talk about art for about 5 min. Batman asks what he is doing there (an art convention) and he says he's selling off his collection. :mrgreen:
Hey, I remember that episode. Hadn't thought of it in years.

I think EGR was very good at the twinkle -- you know, the ability to convey to the audience that there were thoughts in his or the character's head other than what he said in dialog.

I told the story on the TCM board of how I once sold him an apple at my father's grocery store in Manhattan when I was about 9 or 10, and how he asked me if I knew who he was, because I must have been staring at him with my mouth open. When I gave the right answer he said "Good!" I understand now, in retrospect, that he was probably highly amused by my reaction.
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

That's an amazing story jdb1. It's nice to know he has a good sense of humor off the set as well as on.
klondike

Post by klondike »

I agree that EGR's work in Night Has a Thousand Eyes was grippingly eerie, and more than a little off-type; but for me the really dynamic performances from him came in his "investigative" roles, like in Double Indemnity, & The Stranger.
He was also quite commanding in his occasional "tough joe" roles like Man Power.

Klondike
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

klondike wrote:I agree that EGR's work in Night Has a Thousand Eyes was grippingly eerie, and more than a little off-type; but for me the really dynamic performances from him came in his "investigative" roles, like in Double Indemnity, & The Stranger.
He was also quite commanding in his occasional "tough joe" roles like Man Power.

Klondike
I feel the same way, although I like all of EGR's performances. As an authority figure he was tops, and although he was more often than not the bad guy in his earlier films, he would have made a great cop. He gave a quiet determination to those investigative roles, and you knew he was going to get his man eventually. I think he was equal in every way to Orson Welles in The Stranger, not just in character as an adversary equally as smart as the criminal, but as an equally commanding screen actor. I just love them onscreen together - it's a great match.
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moira finnie
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Edward G. Robinson

Post by moira finnie »

I agree with all of the film's mentioned, but would add a few other choice, non-gangster roles played by Eddie as among my faves:

Five Star Final (1931): Robinson is dynamic and riveting as a conscience-ridden tabloid editor throughout this movie focusing on the all too pertinent theme of an irresponsible media. A very brief movie, if TCM shows it again, don't miss the actor's renunciation scene at the end of the movie. Also outstanding in the supporting cast: Boris Karloff as a creepy ex-seminarian turned gutter press reporter, Marian Marsh as a victim of the paper, and Aline MacMahon as Robinson's amanuensis.

Tales of Manhattan (1942): In this Julien Duvivier anthology film, Eddie plays a well-educated man who has descended into homelessness, and finds himself given one more opportunity to wrest his fate away from its self-destructive path, courtesy of a second hand white tie and tails and the ministrations of the always delightful actor, James Gleason, as a man who runs an inner city mission.

The Red House (1947): Robinson, acting opposite the fine actress Judith Anderson as his sister, delivers a truly compelling psychological performance as a man whose benign surface hides his turbulent inner life, all of which comes tumbling out of its very Freudian closet by the end of this interesting Delmer Daves film.

All My Sons (1948): After seeing this film adaptation of Arthur Miller's play recently on TCM for the first time in about 20 years, I was knocked out by Robinson's morally devastating performance as the wartime manufacturer who finally had to acknowledge his complicity in his own son's death as well as that of other victims of his relativism and greed. The expression on his face in the last few minutes of this movie is remarkable and unforgettable.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

I've always felt regret that EGR was not cast in the film version of "Middle of the Night," the May-December romance drama that he did on Broadway. I'll bet he was emotionally shattering in that part. The film might have had even more emotional impact with EGR instead of the leading-man handsome Frederic March.
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