Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Happy Birthday, George Raft!!
Happy 117th birthday to one of my top 30 favorite actors...Mr. George Raft. (September 26, 1895 - November 24, 1980) NOTE: I have found conflicting information about Mr. Raft's birth year, but I have gone with 1895, as that is the year on his gravestone.
Born George Ranft to a poor family in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York City, Mr. Raft spent his early years as a dancer. With his fantastic sense of style, his flair for fashion, and his amazingly fast dancing feet, he was a regular on Broadway and in the New York nightclub scene, before making his way to Hollywood. Though Mr. Raft found success in Scarface and other gangster films, he may have known even greater success. Had he not turned down roles in High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, those roles---which virtually launched Humphrey Bogart into stardom---might have made Raft the household name Bogart is. It was through my desire to see the films of the man who played a part in making Humphrey Bogart a mega-star that I first discovered Mr. Raft.
My all-time favorite George Raft film is Each Dawn I Die (reviewed HERE). This film, which pairs Mr. Raft with James Cagney is a superbly-acted prison drama. The film sees Mr. Raft taking on the gangster persona with which he was so readily identified.
Rounding out my list of five favorite George Raft films are:
2. They Drive by Night (with Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, and Ida Lupino)
3. Invisible Stripes (with William Holden, Jane Bryan, and Flora Robson---reviewed HERE)
4. Black Widow (with Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, and Gene Tierney---reviewed HERE)
5. Johnny Angel (with Claire Trevor and Signe Hasso)
There are many of Mr. Raft's films on my "want to see" list---Souls at Sea, The House Across the Bay, Manpower, and Spawn of the North to name just a few. Unfortunately, I don't think any of those films are out on disc, nor are they on YouTube, so I must wait until TCM airs them.
So, Mr. George Raft, here's to you on your 117th birthday---or whatever birthday it is. I am glad you left so many great films by which we can remember you. And by the way, man, could you wear a suit!!