How much did you know about the screen’s perfect fall guy?
Writes Eddie Muller in Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (1998, St. Martin’s Press), Elisha Cook Jr. was noir’s favorite fall guy…savagely slapped, brutally beaten and mercilessly murdered dozens more times in a career that seemed like one long death scene.
Betrayed in The Maltese Falcon, framed in Stranger on the Third Floor, cuckolded in The Killing, poisoned in The Big Sleep, abused by Laurence Tierney in Born To Kill. Any character played by Cook usually had a rough time of it.
Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Elisha Cook Jr. Quiz.
- Question: In Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 thriller, The Killing, Cook’s character is two-timed by his wife played by Marie Windsor. Who plays the guy she’s fooling around with? a) Charlton Heston; b) John Gavin; c) George Raft; or d) Vince Edwards.
Answer: d) A pre-Ben Casey Vince Edwards.
2. Question: Cook’s career flourished on (sometimes off) for decades, and experienced a resurgence in the Sixties and Seventies. Which one of the following films did he NOT appear in? a) Rosemary’s Baby; b) Electra Glide in Blue; c) Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid; d) Blacula.
Answer: Oops. Another of our trick questions. Cook appeared in ALL of these pictures.
3. Question: Cook would proudly say that in playing his character, Wilmer the gunsel in The Maltese Falcon, he was actually moved to tears. a) True; b) False.
Answer: a) True. Cook said that if you looked closely at the scene in which Humphrey Bogart’s character (Sam Spade) disarms and humiliates Cook’s character — the bodyguard Wilmer — in front of his boss (Sydney Greenstreet’s “the fat man”), the tears are streaming down my face I’m so angry.
4. Question: How did Cook land the part of Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon? a) He relentlessly wooed studio boss Jack Warner; b) He was chosen by random from hundreds of actors; c) He shared the same agent as the movie’s director (John Huston) and star (Bogart); or d) None of the above.
Answer: c) Cook liked to tell interviewers that he got the party simply because he shared an agent with Bogart and Falcon director Huston.
5. Question: Cook appeared in the movie debuts of which of the following? a) Betty Grable; b) Marilyn Monroe; c) Judy Garland; or d) Jane Mansfield.
Answer: A qualified b) and c). Cook appeared in 1936’s Pigskin Parade and 1952’s Don’t Bother To Knock. The former was Garland’s very first film and the latter was Monroe’s 16th big screen appearance but her first starring film.