Well, what about him?

Yes, he costarred (with yesterday’s subject, the late Peggy Cummins) in the low-budget 1950 classic, Gun Crazy. And, he had a brief but reasonably successful movie career in the 1940s.

Do you also know that Dall is part of a select group of leading men in Hollywood’s classic period who were gay but remained firmly closeted throughout to ensure the safety of their careers. Another more prominent member of this group was Farley Granger, Dall’s costar in Alfred Hitchock’s 1948 suspenser, Rope.

Dall and Granger (pictured above, Dall on the right) play a pair of affluent elitists who murder a man they consider their intellectual inferior, conspicuously concealing his body in their plush apartment while a dinner party is in progress. (James Stewart also stars in the picture, said to be the only one he made for Hitchock that he didn’t like.)

Dall, born in New York in 1918 as John Dall Thompson, made his Broadway stage debut in a comedy, Dear Ruth, in 1944.  A year later, he found himself in Hollywood appearing in the film version of Emlyn William’s play, The Corn Is Green, starring Bette Davis as a spinster teacher in a Welch mining town. The role of a young coal miner with a literary bent won Dall a best supporting actor Oscar nomination (won by James Dunn for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).

Dall’s film career was desultory at best, and most of his later work was done on television (he was a semi regular on the Perry Mason series). Besides Rope and Gun Crazy, his other notable movie role was in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus in 1960. He died early in his Fifties of a heart attack in 1971.

Today, it is Gun Crazy that marks the zenith of Dall’s screen career. He plays a somewhat wide-eyed gun enthusiast who comes under the erotic spell of Cummins carnival sharpshooter. Enough said that they complement each other superbly.

Gun Crazy acquired it classic status slowly. It’s now rightfully considered one of the best independently made movies ever to come out of Hollywood.  When it was first released via United Artists, though, it bombed big time at the box office.

Now it is the only movie that is remembered from the King Brothers,  Frank and Maurice King, a couple low-rent bottom feeder producers whose output as a rule never lost money.

 

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