Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.
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Affair in Trinidad (1952)
The Big Heat (1953)
3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Experiment in Terror (1962)
Glenn Ford: A Life (Wisconsin Film Studies) Peter Ford
Peter Ford admitted at the time of his book’s publication in 2011, that he was somewhat concerned how his father’s fan base would react to the autobiography. The book, though not a “Daddy Dearest,” painted a less-than-flattering picture of the legendary actor. Ford discusses with great admiration his father’s film career that included such classics as 1955’s “Blackboard Jungle,” 1946’s “Gilda,” the second of his five films with Rita Hayworth, and Fritz Lang’s seminal 1953 film noir “The Big Heat.”
But he also doesn’t pull any punches about his father’s chronic womanizing – Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Hope Lange, Geraldine Brooks, Maria Schell, Judy Garland and Brigitte Bardot were among his lovers – his drinking and his often strained relationship with Peter.
Perhaps one of the most shocking revelations is that Ford and Hayworth became lovers during 1948’s “The Loves of Carmen,” and in fact, Hayworth became pregnant with Ford’s child and had an abortion at a hospital in France. “Nobody knows that,” he said. “I have his diaries.”
“The image of my dad is that he is like Jimmy Stewart, an Everyman. He was that on film. He wasn’t that in private life,” said Ford, whose mother was Ford’s first wife, tap-dancing legend Eleanor Powell, whom he describes as a “saint.” Powell was married to the actor for 16 turbulent years. He began the book the year before his father died.
“We worked on it together,” Ford said. After his father’s death he also was able to quote from Glenn Ford’s extensive diaries, which he began writing in 1934, plus many audio tapes he made.
Being Ford’s son was difficult, yet Peter remained unstinting in praise for his father’s cinematic achievements. “To me, he’s one of the greatest actors and one of the most underacknowledged ones.”
Glenn Ford appeared in scores of films during his 53-year Hollywood career. The Film Encyclopedia, a reference book, lists 85 movie appearances from 1939 to 1991.
He was invariably cast as the handsome tough, but his acting talents ranged from romance to comedy. His more famous credits include “Superman,” “Gilda,” “The Sheepman,” “The Gazebo,” “Pocketful of Miracles” and “Don’t Go Near the Water.” An avid horseman and former polo player, Ford appeared in a number of Westerns, “3:10 to Yuma,” “Cowboy,” “The Rounders,” “Texas,” “The Fastest Gun Alive” and the remake of “Cimarron” among them. His talents also included lighter parts, with roles in “The Teahouse of August Moon” and “It Started With a Kiss.”
My own favourite amongst his vast oeuvre is the much overlooked film noir “Experiment in Terror,” filmed on location in San Francisco in 1962. Co-Starring Lee Remick, Ross Martin and Stephanie Powers, it’s a directorial tour-de-force from Blake Edwards, just before he descended into Pink Pantheresque farce. I first caught the movie on a late night showing in the early 70’s, and whilst the inclination to hide behind the sofa was long gone, being twelve years of age didn’t stop me squinting at certain key scenes. The first twelve minutes of the film are nothing short of extraordinary, principally in their use of distinctive lighting, allowing the garage scene in which bank clerk kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick) is terrorised by an asthmatic Red Lynch (Ross Martin), to draw its energy from the shadows and contrast. From that point on you’re hooked, Ford’s scenes as FBI agent Ripley providing the only moments of calm amidst the unrelenting suspense.