You may remember Russian-born actor Gregory Ratoff thanks to his indelible portrayal of indigestion-prone theatrical producer Max Fabian in 1950’s All About Eve. (There he is in the role above.)
Among other things, Ratoff’s character is an oasis of heavily-accented humanity amidst the martini dry cynicism of the movie’s chief characters including Bette Davis’ unforgettably theatrical Margo Channing. Ratoff’s Max even gets to be libidinously pursued by a young Marilyn Monroe.
All About Eve is easily the most prominent of Ratoff’s character appearances. His acting credits number nearly 50 including roles in 1936’s Sing, Baby, Sing, 1953’s The Moon Is Blue, 1957’s The Sun Also Rises and in Exodus, released the same year (1960) Ratoff died at age 63.
But Ratoff also carved out a respectable career as a director, helming some 30 titles in that capacity. And that is what today’s Quiz is about.
We are asking you to identify the following titles that Ratoff directed. Don’t despair. We’ll provide some broad hints as to cast and content of each. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Ok, here we go:
1) Question: Ratoff directed this 1939 melodrama under the watchful eye of producer David Selznick. It’s about a concert violinist’s love affair with a piano teacher. The movie, a remake of a Swedish title, is perhaps best remembered today for introducing Ingrid Bergman to American audiences. Her costar here is Leslie Howard.
2) Question: This 1944 musical biography of composer Ernest R. Bell (who composed the title tune) served as a workmanlike vehicle for Ratokff. Twentieth Century Fox put Dick Haymes in the starring role, supported by an eclectic cast including June Haver, Monte Wooley and Anthony Quinn.
3) Question: Actress Constance Bennett produced this 1945 title herself (it was released via United Artists) and it is NOT considered one of Ratoff’s most inspired directoral efforts. However, it is an interesting film about refugees departing Paris during the Nazi Occupation. Bennett is front and center supported by Gracie Fields.
4) Question: Ratoff directed this title about a famous Irish literary figure shortly before his death in 1960. (Notable works of this famous figure include The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.) A solid cast includes Robert Morley in the title role and Ralph Richardson.
5) Question: Edward G. Robinson stars in this 1950 drama, shot largely in England, as a business mogul who strategically uses his daughter to achieve financial goals. Costarring as the daughter is Peggy Cummins, best remembered for her marvelous performance in Joseph H. Lewis’ seminal film noir, Gun Crazy.