Cameron and Gig
After originating the role of Happy Logan in the original 1949 Broadway production of Death of a Salesman, World War II veteran and Actors Studio founding member Cameron Mitchell (1918-1994), born 97 years ago today, was among the handful of cast members asked to play their characters in the film version. Already seen in small movie parts, he took the Hollywood plunge again and began landing more prominent roles throughout the 1950s and ’60s, most at Twentieth Century-Fox and MGM. Twilight Time has four of Mitchell’s Fox performances on hi-def Blu-ray: Pony Soldier (1952), as the hotheaded Cree warrior Konah, nemesis to star Tyrone Power’s Northwest Mounted Policeman; Desirée (1954), as Joseph Bonaparte, brother of soon-to-be French emperor Napoleon (Marlon Brando); House of Bamboo (1955), as Griff, the intense “ichiban” (right-hand man) of racketeer boss Sandy (Robert Ryan), who clashes with new gang member Eddie (Robert Stack); and Hombre (1967), as a corrupt sheriff who joins the crooked gang (headed by fellow Pony Soldier cast member Richard Boone) menacing a group of stagecoach travelers. Each film has its merits, and Mitchell’s contributions easily number among them.
Yowsah, yowsah, yowsah. Also born this day, Gig Young (1913-1978) was also a welcome supporting player across his 38 years in movies. Nominated for three Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards® for Come Fill the Cup (1951), Teacher’s Pet (1958) and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), he won the statuette for the last-named as the seedy master of ceremonies of a Depression-era dance marathon. Extremely adept at light comedy (Desk Set, That Touch of Mink) and yet powerfully serious when given the rare opportunity (The Shuttered Room, TV’s The Neon Ceiling), he’s a staunch TT hi-def Blu-ray team player via his memorable appearances in two Sam Peckinpah thrillers, The Killer Elite (1975) and the sold-out Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). Both roles bring out his sinister side but as in most of his movie characters, a potent trace of charm was never far from view. These six diverse and distinctive films keep the committed work of invaluable players like Mitchell and Young always rewardingly in view.