10/13/15

ALDO RAY: THE LUCKIEST GUY IN MOVIES



Above is a longish trailer for Cukor's 1952 Hepburn/Tracy vehicle "Pat and Mike" (or to be more accurate Cukor/Kanin/Gordon/Hepburn/Tracy's "Pat And Mike." You will not find an auteur theorist at home in this particular blog). The beginning features the inexplicable Aldo Ray, so obviously reading off of cue cards that its shocking they didn't retake it--this was MGM, after all, home of the retake.

Who was Aldo Ray? Why was Aldo Ray? He was an Italian-American non-actor who was Constable of the Judicial Court in a small California town called Crockett who one day drove his brother to an audition for a movie called "Saturday's Children" (directed by David "Love Happy/Lonely Are The Brave/Hail Hero" Miller--of whom Andrew Sarris asked, "Who is David Miller?"). Miller was more interested in Aldo then his brother Guido and cast him instead. In what appears to have been five minutes, he was signed by MGM and was on his way. His gravelly voice, goofy charisma and good looks seemed to have something for audiences that's a little hard to fathom from this distance. After dumping his first wife--the one who thought she was marrying a constable--and marrying and divorcing several actresses (including the mannishly named Jeff Donnell) he continued to work through the 1960s. But throat cancer got him and he was forced to work on loads of crap to keep up his medical expenses, much of it non-union. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG--the silliest acronym ever) eventually found out and--in a wonderful display of support and generosity--threw him out of the union. He died at 66, in the little California town where, in happier days, he'd been Constable.

There. Aren't you glad you asked?

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