I've spent most of my movie-going life with the impression that Glenn Ford was icky. This was based on three rather superficial elements of his performances: his haircuts (especially the crew cuts he sported for most of his films of the fifties), his onscreen personality which was invariably unhip and uptight and his voice which tended to sound like a kid trying to rationalize a forged excuse note. Then I realized how many Glenn Ford movies were among my favorites, the ones with enormous repeat value like "Gilda," "Framed," "Lust For Gold," "Affair In Trinidad," "The Big Heat," "Experiment In Terror" and "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father."
No matter how many times I tried to tell myself that the real reason I kept watching those movies was his co-stars or his directors or the screenplays, all I could come up with was who could have played the parts that Glenn Ford played as well as he did? Who else could have conveyed the psychosexual tensions in "Gilda" as well as Ford? Certainly not a smug Hollywood stud or a whiney squealer. There was nothing wrong with Ford's appearance in that film but he holds his own as Johnny Farrell opposite scene stealers like Rita Hayworth in the title role and George Macready as Ballin Mundson and STILL looks panic-stricken at every tough turn, no matter how rotten he behaves. In "The Big Heat," he treats the mutilated Gloria Grahame with an intriguing blend of kindness & lust. "Fate Is The Hunter," released in 1964, was never picked up as airline entertainment or as a video release, but it shows why only Glenn Ford could play certain impossible parts and no one else. He's Sam McBane, the long-time buddy of arrogant, likeable pilot Rod Taylor as Captain Jack Savage, even though Jack once aced Sam out of a date with Jane Russell. Now, Sam must investigate why Captain Savage's flight crashed with all aboard, and only one survivor: flight attendant Suzanne Pleshette as Martha Webster.
There's no romance for Ford on this job: only grim discoveries leading to even grimmer discoveries. Reportedly, Jack Savage hit every bar in town before the flight with Mickey Doolan, a well-known drunk played by Mark Stevens. Yet Sam knows that, whatever his faults, his friend Jack was a responsible pilot who always risked his own life to save others. Eventually, Sam decides to reenact the flight with surviving flight attendent Webster aboard in order to determine the true culprit of the fatal crash. Throughout the difficult search, Glenn Ford conveys all of the emotions that the friends and families of the victims are feeling and he does it as he always does: by opening himself up in a way no other leading man ever did. "Fate Is The Hunter" shows up every so often on cable television and is well worth seeing in addition to the other Glenn Ford movies mentioned earlier. Physically, you can't separate Glenn Ford from his era, but viscerally, he tapped into the insecurities experienced by every guy, even if he'd rather die than let you see them.
© 2002 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 5/22/02
Fate Is the Hunter
USA - 1964