Actor Brian Donlevy is unquestionably a veteran and a legend.

A war veteran who could have been turned in the wrong direction by one role. Fortunately, it didn't.

Jan 28, 2023 - 17:20
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Actor Brian Donlevy is unquestionably a veteran and a legend.

Brian Donlevy has made a good name for himself by following a recipe of uncompromising seriousness blended with two spoonfuls of empathy every hour. One of those performers who, at the conclusion of his career, will be referred to as a veteran rather than a legend, but no one would mistake him for the first. But that is only for lads like him when they die.

The veteran is a more accurate, that is, more anchored in reality, label because Donlevy was a participant in the First World War and lied about his age to join the army. He claimed to be 16, which was the minimum age for registration, but in fact, he was 14 years old; yet, the desire to feel pride in his chest while fighting for his homeland was motivation enough for him to fake his documents slightly, and by the conclusion of the war he had arrived in France to pilot.

Fortunately, he made it through.

He began performing in the twentieth century, which coincided with his twenties because he was born in 1901. He began to gain attention on Broadway and, to a lesser extent, in silent films. His first significant break in Hollywood came in Howard Hawks' Barbary Coast in 1935, and by the end of the decade, he had accumulated over 20 pictures, including an Oscar nomination for the character of the cruel Sergeant Markoff.

The film in question is Beau Geste (or Legion of Death, as it was translated in our country), a truly superb role in which Donlevy is much more cruel than usual, and it is fortunate that it did not take him to the bay known as "typecast," because it is possible that he will only play similar characters for the rest of his life.

There was wisdom in Hollywood at the time, and they recognized that this man could do much more and much differently, so he continued to be prolific during the 1940s and 1950s, both as the plot's major character and as the first to the main character.

It's worth noting The Glass Key, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, Lang's Hangmen Also Die, Preston Sturges' debut The Great McGinty, a cameo in the same Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, American Romance, Gentleman after Dark, Command Decision, and Kiss of Death, in which Richard Widmark pushes a motionless woman down the stairs.

Before all of that, there was Destry Rides Again, and after that, Big Combo in 1955, which was probably his last big feature, in which he and all the other actors (Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Jean Wallace, and Lee Van Cleef) performed an excellent job, but it was always in the shadow of John Alton's artistic solutions, and there is nothing to complain about.

Even then, he was more focused on television, and during the sixties, he did not push himself much on any platform, and in 1972, he died after a battle with throat cancer, which is sad, especially when you consider that he was not even a smoker, except in movies, but he heard at least the annual production of the tobacco harvest in Podravina in real life and in films.

Lillian Lugosi, Bela's ex-wife who, well, adhered to Dracula's last name even when there was no longer a need for it, was with Brian in his final hour. Brian Donlevy is a Cleveland native, a bad or at least a terribly solid actor, a veteran, and a legend.

Post by Bryan C.