Friday, January 29, 2016

Victor Mature, 1913-1989

Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah (1949)

Today marks the birth anniversary of actor Victor Mature, who was born on this day in 1913. He started his career in 1940's One Million BC and his career looked promising when all of a sudden the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, dragging the US into World War II. Like a lot of Hollywood people, Mature took time out to serve, in his case with the Coast Guard. Before leaving however, he was able to make his star shine brighter with work like I Wake Up Screaming.

Mature returned from the war and to Fox, where he was promptly cast as Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine, a movie which kick-started his career even though I would have thought Mature had entirely the wrong physique to play the consumptive Holliday. Mature would eventually put that physique to good use, playing a football player in Easy Living; and perhaps most famously the biblical Samson opposite Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah. Other epics followed, most notably The Robe and The Egyptian.

Mature's career really cooled off in the late 1950s, in part because, I think, Mature was more laid back about his career. He was famously self-deprecating, with lines like, "I'm no actor, and I've got 64 films to prove it!". And some actors just develop other passions in life anyway. Still, in the two dozen or so movies Mature made in the decade after returning from World War II, there are some interesting roles well worth watching. In addition to what I've mentioned, there are also the noirs Kiss of Death and Cry of the City, as well as the entertaining if not particularly good Violent Saturday.

No comments: