I had the privilege of doing a phone interview with Mr. Curtis for Première a long, or longish, while back, tied into the DVD release of some classic picture of his that I don’t recall. And we got on the subject of Cary Grant, as one will, and he talked about how seeing Grant in Destination Tokyo compelled him to both join the Navy and take up acting, or, rather, the idea of Hollywood stardom. And of how he developed this Cary Grant impersonation way back in the day and how it subsequently pretty much blew his mind to be asked to do this very interesting postmodern Cary Grant avant le lettre bit in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, and how that was pretty much the most fun a person could have, except that same year, pretty much, he was cast in Operation Petticoat, which, like Destination Tokyo, was set on a submarine and starred…Cary Grant himself. And how that pretty much blew his mind even further. And I brought up how Elvis Presley had, well before his own film career began, dyed his hair jet black in homage to Curtis, and we both contemplated that for a second or two, and it blew both our minds.
In that same post Kenny links to Dave Kehr’s obituary in the New York Times which, in turn, mentions that one of Curtis’ early appearances was in Anthony Mann’s great western Winchester ’73 (along with Rock Hudson playing an Indian chief called Young Bull). This prompted me to get the DVD out last night and watch it again.
Now, Winchester ’73 is as close as anything to being the film that got me in to this game and I’ll do a longer appreciation of it at some point, but in the meantime here’s Anthony Curtis waiting for Rock Hudson’s war party to arrive from over the ridge:
Jay C. Flippen (Sgt. Wilkes) and Anthony Curtis (Doan) in Anthony Mann’s Winchester ’73 (1950). Click to enlarge.