a hollywood enigma

{I wasn’t planning to write this post until January 1st, since that’s Dana’s birthday, but I’ll probably want to do some sort of New Year’s resolution post then, so that would be a conflict of interests. Besides, I watched Where The Sidewalk Ends this afternoon, which means I’m in the perfect mood to write a post all about Dana.}

I think I might've pinned this already, but do I really care?  NOPE. ;)

“I simply love this business [acting].  That’s all.” -Dana Andrews

My sliiiiight obsession with Dana Andrews had a rocky start, because the first film I saw him in, where I actually knew who he was (I’d seen Battle of the Bulge and The Devil’s Brigade as a kid), was The Ox-Bow Incident. Yeah. I went away from it more impressed with Henry Fonda than anyone else, truth be told, and when I watched Daisy Kenyon soon after, it did nothing to foster a good opinion of Dana, since his character is a total jerk in that film. But Hamlette had given me a long list of Dana-films-to-watch, and I kept stumbling across the titles at the library, the DVD store, or on Youtube, and, as it turned out, I ended up getting pretty interested in Dana.

After Daisy Kenyon, the next Dana film I watched was Laura, so of course my opinion of him soared then. That’s just a given, right? State Fair, The Best Years Of Our Lives, and The Purple Heart all followed in (very) quick succession, and I was a goner. Now I simply melt whenever I think of his smile or his gorgeous voice or, really, anything about him.


Dana Andrews in Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

All in all, I’ve seen sixteen Dana films – more, I think, than for any other actor (or actress). There are still tons more that I want to watch, but here’s the list as it stands right now (in no real order) with a couple thoughts for each:

~Laura – Dana is darling in this one. Really stands out, and I don’t understand why he wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Mark McPherson. The rest of the movie is spectacular as well.

~The Ox-Bow Incident – ARGH. Don’t. Want. To. Talk. About. It. But Dana did a fantastic acting job; the role of Martin really shows what he can do in terms of dramatics. Should’ve gotten an Oscar for this one too.

~State Fair – The adorbs are too much. Wayyyyy too much of them. I dislike the name Pat, but I love Dana’s performance here. Probably my favorite role of his after Mark.

Jeanne Crain with Dana Andrews
~The North Star – Watched this one for Dana, and ended up falling in love with Farley Granger, but Dana was excellent (isn’t he always?). His character, Kolya, didn’t get all that much screentime though.

~The Devil’s Brigade – Dana only gets a little cameo scene in here, but he was still awesome.

~Battle of the Bulge – All I remember of Dana’s performance in this one was that he had a stupid-looking moustache and his character was an annoying wet blanket. And I didn’t even realize it was him until about halfway through the thing (partly the moustache, partly because he was so much older than anything else I’d seen him in up to that point).

~Daisy Kenyon – Blah. Basically sums up the whole film AND Dana’s character. Who I forget the name of (and I always make as much of an effort as possible to learn/remember character names, so it shows how little I was paying attention).

~The Purple Heart – No, forget what I said about Pat. Ross is definitely my second favorite Dana character. Caring and courageous and all around amazing.

Dana Andrews– "The Purple Heart "
~The Best Years of Our Lives – TBYOOL is such a wonderful movie, in and of itself, and Dana’s part is just the icing on the cake. Goodness, I feel so bad for him during his nightmares and flashbacks – and his relationship with Marie. And Peggy, for that matter.

~The Iron Curtain – The second Dana Andrews/Gene Tierney movie I watched, and I preferred their half of the film so much more than all the boring, documentary-ish scenes. I was convinced that he was going to die heroically at the end, and was sooooo relieved when he didn’t.

~Crash Dive – Meh. I liked all the submarine parts. The shoreside romance, not so much.

~The Forbidden Street – One word for this movie: weird. Seriously weird. Dana plays two different characters, who are supposed to look a lot like each other (obviously), and for character #1, he had an awful beard/moustache, and his voice was DUBBED IN by a British guy. Character #2 wasn’t much better, except he didn’t have any facial hair and Dana got to keep his own voice. The whole thing was so oddly put together and mixed up…I don’t want to watch it again.

~A Walk in the Sun – Ended up liking (loving?) Richard Conte because of this movie. Dana’s character, Sergeant Tyne, was great too, though, and I really enjoyed watching him gradually take over the platoon as Porter became more and more withdrawn.

~Wing and a Prayer – WAAP wasn’t heavy on characterization for anyone, including Dana’s character. I liked it well enough, but it wasn’t anything special. However, the last couple of scenes were riveting, and Dana turned in a good performance.

~Swamp Water – I believe this is one of Dana’s most well-known films, and I really enjoyed it, although I was unsure about whether or not I would at first. That curly hair and dorky Southern accent and nice little romance with Anne Baxter’s character…a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

~Where the Sidewalk Ends – Oh, this one was great. A bit exhausting, as film noirs tend to be for me, but reeeeeally good all the same. I got a kick out of the fact that, once again, Dana plays a detective named Mark, whose love interest is played by Gene Tierney. I was rooting for him to do The Right Thing at the end, and he did, which made me happy. (And sad, at the same time.)


Honestly, Dana is one of the most underrated actors I know of, and it’s a shame. It really is. He was never nominated for an Oscar, never received any other major award (that I know of), and if you mention him, most people will be all, “Wait. Who are we talking about, again?” Just because he was an understated actor, not given to playing great, dramatic parts doesn’t mean he should be overlooked. CAN I GET A YES?

Anyway, here’s a quick list of reasons why you should love Dana as an actor, thought up off the top of my head:

~He wears a fedora/trench coat like nobody’s business. Also, uniforms, Depression-era hunting clothes, suit and tie, and so on. Honestly, this guy could wear rags and still look awesome.

Dana Andrews in Laura  (Otto Preminger, 1944)
~That voice. Warm and deep and rich. Kinda like melted chocolate.

“I suspect nobody and everybody. I’m merely trying to get at the truth.”
~That amused little smirk. Also, his Glare Of Moral Outrage. And practically every facial expression in between.

Dana Andrews and daughter // MY HEART JUST MELTED.
~Gotta love how he’s always a gentleman. Very important. VERY.

Dana Andrews being mobbed by dozens of screaming Hollywood High School students. He took a job at a soda fountain to bring more realism to his role in The Best Years Of Our Lives. But they knew who he really was. :)
~Everything about him, really. The way he walks and talks and his mannerisms and how he hugs Farley-who’s-playing-his-brother in North Star and Mark-protecting-Laura and, honestly, all the best parts of every character I’ve seen him play have sort of mixed together and I’m viewing him through rose-coloured glasses, I know, but he’s STILL AWESOME.

I mean, LOOK AT HIM.


Well, I’m off to watch a Dana film with Elisabeth – don’t know which one it’ll be yet, but whichever one it is, I know I’ll love it. And him. ‘Cause that’s just a given.


(And no, I didn’t use this post as an excuse to share all my favorite Dana pictures.  Why would you ask?)


8 thoughts on “a hollywood enigma

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives is such an interesting film about marriage. Thanks for reminding me of it. I need to add it to my series on marriage in the movies. On the one hand, it affirms marriage with the alcoholic character (Fredric March) and his wife. On the other hand, it kind of romanticizes the emotional affair between Andrews’ character and Peggy. Yes, his marriage is miserable, and yes his wife is a flake, but he still shouldn’t be smooching Peggy. In the end, the movie gives him an easy out by having his wife leave him, but that seems like cheating from the story-teller’s perspective. It doesn’t feel right, like he’s learned anything in the process. I guess I prefer stories where the heroes actually have to sacrifice something. That’s why I like the way it portrays Peggy’s parents. Peggy’s mother sacrifices by staying with her husband, but in the end they both tell Peggy it’s worth it.


    • I agree with everything that you said. The love triangle between Peggy, Marie, and Fred was about the only thing I didn’t like in the film. I think that subplot could have been much more powerful if Fred and Marie had ended up staying together and working things out, since that’s what so many GIs (and their wives) did after the war (although there certainly were divorces too). Still, it’s a great movie, aside from parts of that story line.


    • Thanks. 🙂 I had TONS of fun picking out all those pictures, and I’m glad you enjoyed them. Never fear – once you watch Laura and The Best Years of Our Lives, I predict that you’ll adore him just as much as I do. I’d say that those two films are his best.


  2. I’ve never seen anything with this guy in it. Sounds like I really oughtta do that 🙂 And you’re right–it isn’t always huge dramatics that make somebody a truly great actor.


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