A tremendously under-rated Hollywood talent, Robert Ryan originally set out to be a journalist; however, with the Depression in full swing at the time of his graduation from Dartmouth College, there were no newspaper jobs available to him, so he took on a number of other jobs for several years. Eventually, he got involved in the theatre and made his way to Hollywood, where he gave incredible performances in such films as Crossfire, Inferno, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Bad Day at Black Rock.
Although he never retired from films and was making his final movie, The Iceman Cometh (which incidentally was also Fredric March's final film), the year of his death, the stage often drew Ryan back. Though he did other stage roles, having been a Shakespeare appreciator, he enjoyed taking part in Shakespearean plays; one of his roles was Marc Antony (opposite Katharine Hepburn's Cleopatra). Helen Hayes said about that portrayal, "What a joy it is to see a real man playing Antony."
Besides entertaining audiences with his brilliant portrayal of cruel, angry, sadistic men, Mr. Ryan also served his country by way of the Marine Corp. Based at Camp Pendleton, California, he spent two years as a drill sergeant. Kind of fitting that his birthday is on Veteran's Day.
Rounding out my list of 5 favorite Ryan films are:
2. Inferno (with Rhonda Fleming and William Lundigan---reviewed HERE)
3. On Dangerous Ground (with Ida Lupino---reviewed HERE)
4. The Set-Up (with Audrey Totter---reviewed HERE)
5. Her Twelve Men (with Greer Garson---reviewed HERE)
Interestingly, though it was Ryan's Oscar-nominated (supporting actor) performance as a cruel anti-Semitic soldier in Crossfire which first brought the brilliance of this man's acting to my attention, and though I love him in those "bad boy" roles, my five favorite films all show a bit of a softer and/or more likable side.