The Q & A thread devoted to a discussion with Carl Rollyson about this book is now open at The Silver Screen Oasis. It can be seen by clicking here.
Think of the high points of America film in the 1940s for a moment. Titles such as The Ox-Bow Incident, Laura, Fallen Angel, The Best Years of Our Lives, Where the Sidewalk Ends and more are likely to come to mind. One of the crucial elements that made these films classics was the expressive, often wordless eloquence of Dana Andrews. His screen presence gave these movies a depth and naturalism that was all the more remarkable for the seamlessness of his gifted acting. Andrews made memorable contributions to cinematic storytelling in film noir, classic westerns, and definitive examinations of the impact of war on the breakable human spirit. Yet few of us may know much more about this very private individual whose talent and longevity should have made him a much bigger star.
Fortunately for us, journalism professor and biographer Carl Rollyson, the author of the recently published Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews (University Press of Mississippi, 2012) will be visiting The Silver Screen Oasis on the weekend of December 8th and 9th. Carl will share his unique perspective on this actor, drawing on background gleaned from the actor's family, his friends, and Dana Andrews' own deeply personal journals and letters. This book, which was chosen as TCM's September Book of the Month, was reviewed favorably by film historian Jeanine Basinger in a recent piece in The Wall Street Journal. She described the actor this way: "At his best, Andrews embodied an era, the contemporary audience's concept of a 1940s man." Basinger added that this long-overdue biography "teaches us to appreciate an actor whose standing in the Hollywood pantheon should clearly be reassessed. As Mr. Rollyson clearly understands, Dana Andrews has nowhere to go but up."
After reading the book, which analyzes the actor's seemingly artless technique in his on-screen roles as well as his restive struggles in private, I found the story of this actor quite moving. The portrait of Dana Andrews that Mr. Rollyson paints reveals the actor as a complex, quite remarkable person, with little or nothing to do with Hollywood glamour, but much to do with a talent and a drive for excellence that came out of a bare bones boyhood in Texas. As his friend and fellow actor Norman Lloyd described him, Andrews comes alive on the pages of this book as a complex individual who was also "one of nature's noblemen." Thanks to the writing ability of the even-handed Mr. Rollyson, the nuanced central figure in this Hollywood story can still inspire compassion and respect even in those of us who only know him from his work.
Please plan on joining us at the Oasis on Dec. 8th & 9th to explore the life and career of Dana Andrews during the Q & A with Carl Rollyson.
Reviews of Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews