The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

When Men Were Men #3


From An Autographed Who's Who of the Screen (1930)

"My real name is Ernest Carlton Brimmer, and I still use it a great deal when traveling incognito. I became an actor because I thought I was in love with my dentist's daughter who went to dramatic school...I went to dramatic school too, and got quite a part in 'Richelieu.' I changed my name because my parents objected to having an actor in the family.
"I was afraid to submit to a screen test because I was sure I wouldn't be a photographic subject.
"Before I entered pictures I had eight years' stage experience--two and a half years as leading man at the Morosco theater in Los Angeles. I played football in school and get a big kick out of all forms of sport. I got two broken ribs, two black eyes, and a broken left thumb, and a number of healthy bruises boxing Jack Renault, the French Canadian prize-fighte for the picture 'Knockout Reilly'; I barely weighted 180 pounds, he 210.
"The most exciting moment of my career came when I was seventeen years old. Our football team played in a stock performance of 'The College Widow,' and the director chose me to speak two lines. We were playing in St. Paul, and my entire school turned out to see us.
"Later I worked in the stock company and received the munificent weekly salary of $20 for being such a tremendous box office draw in my home town.
"I would rather go to the opera than eat, and like to fish for pickerel and trout. I believe in marriage as an institution, but it should be a permanent instead of a temporary arrangement."
-Richard Dix

I wonder why Richard Dix isn't better remembered today, when he's barely a footnote in the history books. What few films of his I've seen show a confident, charismatic leading man who's convincing in roles requiring a certain amount of action. He was certainly the Bruce Willis of his day, which doesn't bode well for the way Willis's career will be remembered a few decades down the road.
Even in a routine entry like Stingaree (which some people dubbed "Stinkaroo" after a screening at Cinefest a few years back) Dix makes the most of his role as an Australian bandit, in love with a touring opera singer. Heck, not even his role in the Oscar-winning film Cimmaron is available on DVD. Anyone up for a Dix revival?

4 comments :

Gene Stavis said...

Richard Dix was indeed one of the biggest stars of the early talkies. I especially like "The Lost Squadron" with Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Erich Von Stroheim essentially playing himself.

Tom Sutpen said...

Gene Stavis wrote:

Richard Dix was indeed one of the biggest stars of the early talkies. I especially like "The Lost Squadron" with Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Erich Von Stroheim essentially playing himself.

*****
Wellllllll . . .

I wouldn't go that far. Stroheim's performance in "Lost Squadron" was really a fusion of the demented Huns he played during the War and his directorial persona as reflected in the publicity of the time. As it was, a performance like that in "The Lost Squadron" wound up backfiring badly on Stroheim because when Fox eviscerated "Walking Down Broadway" the next year, they were able to plant all kinds of scurrilous items in 'Variety' about Stroheim's alleged profligacy on that picture and everyone in Hollywood was ready to believe it, no small thanks to the RKO film.

That being said, I'm just as surprised as anyone that Dix isn't better known. But then I still wonder why Warren William isn't better known also.

swac said...

But nobody wonders why Ricardo Cortez isn't better known.

Tom Sutpen said...

I'm a strange case ("you said it!!") because I primarily think of Ricardo Cortez as the brother of Stanley Cortez.

I mean . . . does anyone else's brain work like that?