One Hundred Years of Tyrone Power
Star Centennial For A Leader Among Leading Men
The Tyrone Power Centennial Blogathon is today. Go to The Lady Eve's Reel Life or They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To for details and links to participating writers. Tyrone Power seems to me a longer ago star than he actually was. He worked from the 30's until 1958, was "of" that first decade in a way he'd not be after the war when his kind of leading man got displaced. Successors to Power didn't trump his act with youth, but each seemed a generation away from his prewar nova that burned brightest before an industry and its male stars enlisted. Consider surprising dates of birth: Burt Lancaster 1913, Tyrone Power 1914, Gregory Peck 1916, and Robert Mitchum 1917. These boys could have been in high school together, and yet Power seems their senior by backward leap to a
|Out On The Town with Sonja Henie|
Ty began as a "matinee idol" and then couldn't shake it. On him, the label hung heavy. Not a help was cameras caressing him as they had Valentino in silent days. There'd even be remakes of non-talkers like The Mark Of Zorro and Blood and Sand. Power compliance to nearly a reel being dressed for bullfighting makes him seem at the least a willing object of fetish, almost like Rudy given dialogue or Elvis minus the songs. He risked a worse label of boy-toy for fan-girls, Zanuck having to off-cast him in toughies like Johnny Apollo to ward off the "sissy" brand insiders like writer Nunnally Johnson had assigned. Problem for Power was his being too ideal for a dream factory's dream man. He was serenely competent, had a splendid voice cultivated on stages since a boy, and wore costumes with more élan than real-life courtiers of eras past. So of course he'd sign off under a family's crest.
|Could Power Have Been The First Pic Star To Install a|
Pinball Machine In His Home?
He'd enlist to the Marines as a private, seeking fields of action, which for Power would be the Pacific and flying relief to
The road back was paved with prestige. Zanuck settled on something special for warrior homecoming and spent the most-ever for a black-and-white Fox picture, $3.3 million on The Razor's Edge. Power was good and the movie reasonably so, but the edge was off his knife and not a few of squealing multitude had crossed over to Peck, who some at 20th regarded a new and improved Tyrone Power. Not willing to chance the unexpected, Zanuck would pour money but not variance on sword/sash that was Captain From Castile and follow-up of sorts, Prince Of Foxes, but who knew these costumers would turn out so grim as noirs coming into postwar fashion? The Power character's family is wrested away from him and slaughtered in
Power would have seen noir duty eventually, even if he'd not "pleaded" to do Nightmare Alley, which was his best work for taking an already slippery persona deeper into the pit (in this case, one dug for carny geeks). He'd have been gratified too to know it's Nightmare Alley that is today considered first in overview of his career. Facile charmer Ty of the screen had way with confidence scheming that might have made for interesting image switch like Fox colleague John Payne's toward noirish cellar, but Power was way too big a name to take such demotion, and besides, pavement thrillers weren't known for profit-getting.
|Tea Time with Second Wife Linda Christian|
There was still intense interest in Power's love life, him trotting the globe, romancing Lana Turner here, marrying Linda Christian there, with films made offshore for chaser. It seemed at times as though the work was incidental to dating and newlywed games he played, but Power among Hollywood lead men was a most serious about craft of acting, and he after all had family tradition to uphold. That would translate to stage performing, which he'd done where possible all along, but being loose from Fox by the early-50's meant the star could immerse in legit. Wife-by-now Linda Christian thought that foolish and argued for likes of The Mississippi Gambler, a for-percentage deal with Universal-International that netted Power $750,000, a richer take than was ever had at 20th. Action was the arena screen men profitably got into after war service. James Stewart oft-did westerns through the 50's, but Power tries at the genre beyond Gambler (not strictly a western in any case) were either downbeat (Rawhide) or dull (Pony Soldier). Romance was how viewership continued liking him best, thus The Eddy Duchin Story as the decade's outstanding hit for Power.
|Ty Trods Boards with Katharine Cornell|
Power called a lot of his work "a monument to public patience," but close look has much of it standing up well to modern inspect. There's a whopping 27 of his features I like a lot, and as a 16mm collector, I chased hard after IB Tech prints of Crash Dive, Blood and Sand, Captain From Castile, The Mississippi Gambler, others. Power has shown latter day capacity to gather up fresh fans born long after he left. Several have sites with lively chat boards. 20th Fox had success enough with DVD sales to issue a pair of Power volumes. His family (two daughters, a son) are, as I write, hosting revivals of Power films around the country for the 100th. Fox has a movie channel that uses his stuff a lot, but they aren't TCM, and until the latter leases all or most of Power, we'll not see fullest appreciation for his backlog. Also awaited, meanwhile, is a scope transfer for King Of The Khyber Rifles and anything at all of The Mississippi Gambler, which has been out of sight in the
More Tyrone Power at Greenbriar Archives: The Black Swan, Witness For The Prosecution, What A Lovely Couple, Lloyd's Of London, Girl's Dormitory, and A Star Says Thanks For The Bookings.