Thursday, August 31, 2006

Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion: American Hero

Let’s put aside his midlife conversion from Democrat to Republican (he was a longtime friend of Ronald Reagan), and just take a minute to reflect on the great movie acting of Gwyllyn “Glenn” Ford, who died Wednesday at the age of 90.

Then take another minute to reflect on the slipshod obit written by Richard Severo in the New York Times. Not only does it omit any reference to Ford’s very public political leanings, it fails to mention his best performance.

To my mind, The Big Heat is one of the very best films ever made, and Ford’s portrayal of the wounded and driven police detective Dave Bannion is more compelling and nuanced than his work in Gilda or Blackboard Jungle (to take nothing away from the two films most often mentioned in remembrances). Maybe I just think Fritz Lang is a better director than Charles Vidor or Richard Brooks. . . or maybe it’s just that playing opposite Gloria Grahame can only make a man better.

Whatever the reason, the Times omission still leaves a gaping hole, as does Ford’s death in the firmament of movie stars.


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