Thursday, August 23, 2012

Leo Gordon (1922-2000)

The well-dressed hoodlum.

[To Don Siegel, after being cast in Riot in Cell Block 11]
“I dont want to let you guys down. I cant accept the part ... Im an ex-con. Served five years in San Quentin for first-degree robbery. I was shot in my guts by the arresting officers. I had pulled my gun, but didnt fire it.” (from the book A Siegel Film)

Dispensing prison justice in Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954).

“As the perennial heavy, Ive died of everything except old age. When Id get home from the studio at night my daughter would ask how Id gotten bumped off that day.” (1966 Los Angeles Times interview)

Dispensing underworld justice in The Big Operator (1959).

“Westerns are fundamental ... the morality play. Theres a good guy and a bad guy. You know which is which. You dont have to go into the psyche to find out his parents were abusive. [The heavy is] the guy people remember.

Partnering Mickey Rooney in Baby Face Nelson (1957).

“You get more recognition, I think, as a bad guy than a lot of these guys whove played heroes on long-running television shows.

Dont make him angry.

“Thank God for typecasting.

My favorite Leo Gordon films: Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Man in the Shadow (1957), Baby Face Nelson (1957), The Big Operator (1959), The Intruder (1962), Kitten with a Whip (1964), Tobruk (1967), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), Bonnie's Kids (1973)

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