"I've never played anyone but myself on screen."
~ Glenn Ford (1916-2006)
He never won an Academy Award, nor was he recognized by the American Film Institute with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Yet, in over 200 movies, the seamless, artless quality in actor Glenn Ford's work enabled him to fly under the radar of the ballyhoo that surrounds much of Hollywood. His very squareness illuminated something of value for audiences: the effort to survive, the desire to preserve some integrity, some shared insight into the nature of good and evil, and the things of value that we might try to pass on. Whether behind a badge, roaming on horseback, wearing a business suit, a uniform or a pair of well-worn jeans, his characters could be good and bad. He didn't really care if he played "the villain or the hero," the actor once pointed out. "Sometimes the villain is the most colorful. But I prefer a part where you don't know what he is until the end."
Commentators have pointed out that much of the career of Glenn Ford was based on "niceness", with decency and morality running consistently through his characters. I find the struggle and inability of Ford's characters to remain "nice" in an increasingly complex, unfair world to be one of the factors that makes him an interesting actor. His occasional slow burns on screen in roles such as The Violent Men, Trial, Ransom, The Big Heat and Human Desire, and his overwhelmed comic characters, such as the widower in The Courtship of Eddie's Father, brought out something unexpectedly mercurial in his screen persona. You cannot always predict where he is going to go with a characterization.
When TCM trots out a plethora of Glenn Ford movies this Friday, August 7th, as part of the Summer Under the Stars celebration, I'll probably be watching--warily. Until the last few years, you see, I didn't think I liked Glenn Ford. But that was my mistake. Now I know better and can appreciate some of his work. Besides, I need to hang out till the ends of his movies to find out if his character was good or bad...please click here for more