Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ralph Bellamy (I)


Okay folks, it ends now. The constant abuse of Ralph Bellamy as the romantic foil to Cary Grant in "His Girl Friday," and his only being remembered as a footnote to this one film. It stops here, dammit! I'll have you know that Ralph Bellamy has played countless other film roles! Why, his IMDB page lists almost 200 roles! He played, uh, the guy who lost the girl to Cary Grant in "The Awful Truth!" O
r the, uh, guy who lost the girl to Gary Cooper in "The Wedding Night!"

But seriously. Ralph Bellamy is actually an interesting case of typecasting. Bellamy was a consumate stage pro, coming up from the traveling stock companies in Illinois, to Broadway work, and finally out to Hollywood. His autobiography "When the Smoke Hit the Fan" is actually a fun, readable account of a distinguished professional actor. Word on the street is that "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was originally developed as a vehicle for him! He won a Tony for playing FDR in "Sunrise at Campobello," for chrissakes!

And yet. Part of the reason Ralph Bellamy will be forever linked to "His Girl Friday" is that he's name-dropped in it, when Cary Grant tries to describe his character to a floozy and ends up saying that he "looks like that fellow in pictures, what's his name, Ralph Bellamy." This is a typical bit of Hawksian mischief that Bellamy says he wasn't aware was going on until he saw a cut of the film.

The other reason, sad to say, is that despite Ralph Bellamy's huge career in pictures (and I certainly haven't seen even close to all of them), "His Girl Friday" is arguably the best film Bellamy was ever in. "His Girl Friday" stands up today as one of the best comedies ever made and Bellamy is the Platonic ideal of the boring-but-reliable suitor that the heroine will inevitably throw over in favor of the leading man.

But to be fair to Ralph Bellamy, he deserves better. He's never been less than excellent in the films of his I've seen, and he's fantastic in "His Girl Friday." Also, he was in both "Pretty Woman" and "Disorderlies." Watch his perplexed look as he deals with Cary Grant at 3:15 min in the clip below. And watch this space for more on one of my favorites, Ralph Bellamy!

Suggested Viewing:
-The Wedding Night
-The Awful Truth
-His Girl Friday
-The Professionals
-Trading Places

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