Saturday, March 26, 2016
To Sterling Hayden on his 100th Birthday
Short of Harrison Ford, there aren't too many actors I look at and think "that guy is so cool. I wish I were that guy." But, yes, Sterling Hayden is absolutely one of those guys. Maybe throw in Alan Ladd.
Today marks the 100th birthday of Sterling Hayden, the tall, tough-guy actor in two of my favorite noir movies of all time, The Killing and The Asphalt Jungle. Of course, he was also the whacked out General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and Capt. McCluskey in The Godfather. And, for extra credit, he was in Johnny Guitar (as Johnny Guitar), mooning over a pancake-make-upped Joan Crawford.
Here's an article in The Boston Globe celebrating Hayden. He sounds like maybe he was a difficult man, but I respect anyone who ran away to sea at 17 to sail the world and was in the 20th century up to his elbows as much as he was. He was a goddamn commando in the OSS! He flirted with being a Red! He hated acting and just wanted to be on boats!
No one quite did world-weary-but-seemingly-invulnerable like Hayden.
If you've not seen The Asphalt Jungle, do so now. It's got Monroe in an early role, it's directed by John Huston, and has Jean Hagen in a heartbreaking role as Doll. And, of course, Hayden as Dix, the heist man who just wants to get back what his family lost in Kentucky. Failing that, watch The Killing. Which is early Kubrick, features a platinum Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook, Jr. and a host of other perfectly noir faces.