Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Tuesday, September 12, 2006


My Hero --- Steve Cochran


Information on Steve Cochran isn’t easy to come by. He seems to have floated somewhere outside the Hollywood mainstream. It would be easy to say that, based on his sleazy and clearly untrustworthy screen roles, Steve was held at bay by the town’s social gatekeepers. His conduct during off-hours was typical of fun-loving young men on their way up. Lots of drinking, much whoring, and an ongoing willingness to trade on a handsome, but disquieting, face. Steve always came across like a big bully. He shoved a cringing old man around in a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone (What You Need) and got run over by a car for his trouble. As an unscrupulous Confidential-inspired publisher, he victimized Van Johnson in Slander, and was shot dead by his own mother for the pay-off. When Steve entered the room, you knew a double-cross was in the offing. His insolence toward a barking David Brian in The Damned Don’t Cry demonstrated Cochran’s talent for effortlessly dominating a scene, and his underplayed treachery in White Heat gave even Cagney
a run for his money.



Steve was known as a notorious womanizer. I’d venture to say the gals did much of the chasing. Dangerous types like Steve always score. The tally sheet included Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren (could he have gotten them confused? --- I would have), Joan Crawford (well, he worked with her, so natch), Barbara Payton (assignations with male co-stars was virtually written into her contracts) --- many more. He had an unforgettable cameo as a cuckolding lounge lizard in The Best Years Of Our Lives, but was otherwise wasted at Goldwyn menacing Danny Kaye. A temporary movie lull found him playing foil to Mae West for a 1948 legit revival of Diamond Lil. The fact he was able to hold his own opposite Mae convinced the town of his survival skills, if not his thespic ones. Steve had stage experience, was briefly on Broadway, and managed camp shows during the war, so this was no babe in the woods. He was cruelly typecast --- make that typecast for his cruelty, after the high-profile conniving he practiced in White Heat, and Warners exploited his perfidy further in Highway 13, Dallas
, and Storm Warning. For that last one, Klan leadership was right up Steve’s alley, for there was often the coward’s face behind the venal masks he wore. Through force of talent, he often invested these roles with values not suggested on the script’s printed page. The Damned Don’t Cry found him refreshingly sympathetic in an otherwise perfunctory role as a disloyal hoodlum, and Dallas showed a flair for comedy that might well have been explored further were it not for that always threatening countenance of his. From all accounts, Steve wasn’t like that offscreen. Oft described as a big harmless lug, he was a beloved, if bemused, hound for booze and babes. Having seen Come Next Spring, a beautiful slice of Americana he produced for Republic in 1956, I suspect there was a good deal more to Steve than that.



The boneyard that was television guest work became Cochran’s sixties port of call. Just spade jobs a dozen other guys could have filled, but features were tough to come by, and the price of cigarettes kept going up, so what could he do? Steve’s craggy face reflected the seediness that had crept into Hollywood’s post-Golden Age landscape, but on him it looked good. He had a certain brilliantined authority in middle age that should have been better appreciated. When Cochran reached for the decanter with that tired, resigned familiarity, as here in Of Love and Desire with
Merle Oberon, you’re quite prepared to embrace whatever hard pavement truths he’s sharing. Too bad he never got that chance, for his run was fast coming to its finish.



Steve had recently completed --- what else? --- a Euro crime thriller (Mozambique) when he hoisted anchor for a yacht tour with an all-girl crew (one age fourteen). The stated purpose was to scout for locations, and that might have been on the level too, for he’d lately finished an independent feature which he produced, directed, co-wrote, and starred in, Tell Me In The Sunlight ("A sailor and a stripper fall in love on the beaches of Nassau"). Unfortunately, and disastrously for the girls, their seafaring host collapsed and died on board, and none of them knew how to pilot a yacht. After twelve nightmarish days (one of which was punctuated by a particularly vicious storm), the craft finally drifted into port with three hysterical passengers and Cochran’s badly decomposed body. The official finding said acute infectious edema, but some suspected foul play. Investigations went nowhere, the death having occurred in international waters, so the matter was put to rest (he was 48). A sad and sorry finish for an actor who never got his proper due. Three of his excellent, and seldom seen, Warner noirs would be ripe subjects for DVD revival --- the aforementioned Highway 301, Inside The Walls Of Folsom Prison, and Tomorrow Is Another Day. Maybe we’ll eventually see them in Warner’s outstanding, and ongoing, series of Film Noir box sets.

Photo Captions



Steve Cochran --- Color Fan Portrait

Steve in Highway 301

Virginia Mayo with Steve in a White Heat Lobby Card

With Gary Cooper and Ruth Roman in Dallas

With Joan Crawford and David Brian in The Damned Don't Cry

With Ruth Roman in Tomorrow Is Another Day

With Merle Oberon in Of Love and Desire

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He reminds me so much of Sean Connery. Should that be that Sean Connery reminds me of him.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an absolutely fantastic story!
He was one of those actors you recognised but didn't know their name.
I only watched that twilight zone episode the other week.
Cheers for the great site!

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Steve Cochran press is good press. Thnx for putting this page up. However, on a pc at least, the type color used in the comments against the dark page make them almost invisible. I read them initially when I highlighted the text with my cursor.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful profile of the inimitable and always undervalued Steve Cochran. He was so talented as well as dashingly handsome. I'm only surprised that you never mentioned the factoid of him having the biggest penis in Hollywood, by all accounts. Steve deserves more than that as his claim to fame though.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure about the penis thing. I believe Milton Berle and Forrest Tucker come up far more frequently on that score. However, Steve, in "Of Love and Desire" did keep his physique up until the end. In that film, he wears a small set of dark trunks and wears them very well. Also, Merle was still in exquisite shape for her age and sports a two-piece swimsuit.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EVERYTHING STEVE COCHRAN HAS BECOME QUITE A OBESSION WITH ME. I SUPPOSE BECAUSE I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM THROUGH HIS MOVIES. HE IS STILL MISSED BY ME.CETAINLY DIED TOO YOUNG,

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI: I CAME ACROSS A SITE THAT SOMEONE WAS ASKING TO FIND STEVE COCHRAN MOVIES, I CHECK THEM ALL. THERE IS AMAZON 'BARNES&NOBLE A NEW PLACE I CAME ACROSS IS YAMMERING MAGPIE' ioffer IS ALSO A GOOD PLACE TO LOOK FOR HIS MOVIES.JUST ORDERED BACK TO GOD'S COUNTRY,THE DAMNED DONT CRY, WHITE HEAT, AND OF COURSE COME NEXT SPRING. I HAVE DOWNLOADED DEADLY COMPANIONS & STORM WARNING FROM AMAZON. I HOPE SOMEONE CAN USE THIS INFO.A #1 FAN OF STEVE COCHRAN

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TELL ME IN THE SUNLIGHT WILL RELEASED APRIL 07 2009 AT AMAZON.COM HURRAH!!!

5:34 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

MY GOSH.I JUST WATCHED IL GRIDO,I AM NOT A FAN OF ENGLISH SUBTITLES.I DID NOT NEED WORDS TO SEE THE EMOTIONS STEVE COCHRAN PORTAYED,FANTASTIC BEAUTIFUL MALE THAT HE WAS. DAMN!!!!!!!!

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, just discovered this article on Steve Cochran 3 years late. I've been researching the great actor, writer, director and producer for over 2 years now. Your article was more accurate and on target than most which appear to come directly from the tabloids of the 50s and 50s.Robert Alexander Cochran had planned ato be a commercail artist after graduating from Wyoming U, but took a drama course and decided, acting and directing was more exciting.Unfortunately he was so good at playing sexy villains that Hollywood couldn't see the talent and possibilities of the man. Only the projects that he personally invested in allowed him the roles that should have made him a star.i.e. Come Next Spring, Il Grido and Tell Me In The Sunlight. He died way too soon, and some like Merle Oberon questioned his death citing foul play--to no avail. He is buried in Monterey Ca.with many of John Steinbeck's
cronies, near the ocean that he loved so much. No Hollywood memorial for a charming rogue and independent thinker.

5:45 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks a lot for those kind words. It's always great to know someone's reading the older posts from the Archive. This Steve Cochran piece originally ran several years back.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

john, really like your essay on steve. "tomorrow is another day" is a gem. "tell me in the sunlight" is interesting tho padded and overlong. "come next spring" is very appealing. as you probably know, the best source on steve is still james robert parrish and his magnificent tome "hollywood players, the forties". still wondering if you could let me know where you get your box office facts and figures1

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve was my father in law - I started a page for him at face book this year --- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Cochran/288968997828127

... and on behalf of Steve and his family and my gear departed Alex Johns, his great grandson, thank you so much! Scott Utley

9:05 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016