"I guess if the earth were made of gold, men would die for a handful of dirt."
When I was a young movie fan, back before I knew better, I thought Gary Cooper was a stiff. Sure, he was big, stoic and capable, but to me he seemed a wooden, inexpressive performer. I knew he was famous, for stuff like High Noon and Sergeant York, but I didn't get the hype. He didn't seem to bring the big, bold, authoritative flourishes I immediately noticed and responded to with stars like John Wayne, Lee Marvin, or Humphrey Bogart. Cooper seemed noble, yes, but also...well, also a little bit dulI.
I've since learned the error of my ways.
The older I get, and the more of Cooper's movies I see, the more I realize that there's a lot of depth there, lurking beneath the strong, silent surface. He's a much more interesting, complex actor than I first gave him credit for, and in his own quiet way, he commands the screen. He comes across as more amiable and contemplative than the likes of the Duke or Clint Eastwood, yet he's able to subtly convey a wily intelligence and sardonic wit. And, of course, there's that innate nobility thing, perhaps rivaled only by Gregory Peck in the ease with which it's displayed.
He's also surprisingly funny, when given half a chance. Whether playing off his image as the innocent professor who falls for brassy showgirl Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire, fending off the advances of matriarch Marjorie Main in Friendly Persuasion or showing a facility for slapstick when trying to care for a baby in Casanova Brown.
Cooper's no muss, no fuss authority, shrewd thinking and easy way with short, pointed retorts are on full display in Henry Hathaway's Garden of Evil. He easily anchors this "tropical" western - though Richard Widmark tries his best to steal it out from under him.
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
Tipping My Fedora
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Classic TV and Film Cafe
Just a Cineast
She Blogged By Night
Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema
Out of the Past -
A Classic Film Blog
Pretty Sinister Books
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
In So Many Words...
Greenbriar Picture Shows
My Love of Old Hollywood
Tales of the Easily Distracted
Another Old Movie Blog
Lasso the Movies
Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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