The subject of our Monday Quiz, Charles McGraw (photographed above in short hair accompanied by a back-of-the-head shadow), was a standout star in low-budget film noir outings in the Forties and Fifties, some of the best crime dramas ever made.
As mentioned, he is much like Ward Bond, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in that these guys are far more recognizable among contemporary movie fans than many of their “star” peers of the day.
It’s not too much to say that it is difficult to be a fan of the film noir genre without admiring McGraw’s work. He was a true original.
We’ve written extensively about McGraw in the past, but now we are elevating him as the subject of our special Monday Quiz. We are inspired here by Alan K. Rode’s CHARLES McGRAW: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy (2008, McFarland & Co.).
On to our quiz answers. (To review the questions, just scroll down to yesterday’s blog.)
1) Answer: The Killer is cited today for all choices, but we favor (a) a bit more. The movie did indeed establish Ava Gardner as a star beauty with genuine acting chops.
2) Answer: c) Richard Widmark was NOT a member of that Golden Boy cast. All other names mentioned were including Elia Kazan as an actor. He soon realized his shortcomings, and turned director. The rest is…
3) Answer: c) 22 films mostly at RKO.
4) Answer: b) John Ford. McGraw appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus and in Richard Brooks’ In Cold Blood.
5) Answer: b) Wallace Ford, an amazingly versatile and credible character actor. He got himself steamed and reamed in T-Men.
6) Answer: b) Casablanca. McGraw played the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick Blaine in a 1955 tv series that lasted all of eight episodes.
7) Answer: Since we offered no multiple choice, we’ll give you credit for this one. The movie was the 1950 thriller, Armored Car Robbery, with McGraw playing a tough cop whose partner is gunned down. His expression of condolence to the fallen partner’s wife: “Tough Break, Marsha.”
8) Answer: c) McGraw and Ricardo Montalban’s costar in 1949’s Border Incident is George Murphy, who after his acting career went on to become a U.S. Senator. Watch Montalban’s expression as he helplessly witnesses fellow undercover agent (Murphy) being shredded by the blades of a farm reaper in an “accident” arranged by the two bad guys. Grisly stuff, and perhaps Murphy’s finest onscreen moment.
9) Answer: c) Marie Windsor, who was personally friendly with McGraw and his first wife. Check her out opposite McGraw in 1952’s The Narrow Margin. That’s Marie with McGraw pictured above.
10) Answer: b) McGraw accidentally slipped on a bathtub, severely cutting his left arm on a broken glass door. He bled to death.