Ok, we’ll get to our Roland Young Quiz in a moment.
First, we want to wish you and yours a peaceful and prayerful Memorial Day, the beginning-of-summer holiday which commemorates all those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
And… we can’t resist offering our modest suggestion as to which classic film most fits the occasion. It’s our pick is possibly — possibly — the best American combat movie ever made.
Michael Caine (a dogface who fought in the Korean War) once wrote: British war films were always about officers; American films were about enlisted men.
Caine is right, and no movie better illustrates his observation better than A Walk In The Sun, made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Lewis Milestone and released in January 1945.
The movie has an all-star cast of character actors (George Tynes, Herbert Rudley, Sterling Holloway, Huntz Hall, Norman Lloyd, Steve Brodie and a very young-looking Lloyd Bridges) aided by bigger stars, Dana Andrews, John Ireland and Richard Conte — all portraying dog faces. A hapless lieutenant’s face is blown away in the movie’s opening scenes, after which not a single officer appears in the rest of the movie.
A Walk In The Sun tracks a World War II Army infantry platoon in the 1943 Italian campaign from a Salerno beach landing through to an assault on a bridge and a rural farmhouse crawling with German machine gunners. It’s as fascinating as it is unheralded. One to see on Memorial Day.
Now to Roland Young, waiting impatiently in the wings:
Yes, he’s most remembered as originating the role of Cosmo Topper — a bank president haunted by the ghost of two obstreperous clients — in 1937 screwball comedy Topper, but our man had a long and varied career. (He died in 1953 at the age of 65.)
How much do you know about this famous character actor? Let’s take a look at our Quiz questions and find out.
1) Question: Below is a shot of Young’s Topper costar. Can you name her? a) Constance Bennett; b) Billie Burke; c) Joan Blondell; or d) Hedda Hopper.
2) Question: Young’s portrayal of stuffy banker Cosmo Topper was so popular that a 1941 sequel to 1937’s Topper was warranted, titled Topper Returns. Here (below) is a photo of our man getting the hair treatment from fellow cast member of the sequel. Who is she? a) Shelley Winters; b) Carole Landis; c) Billie Burke; or d) Joan Blondell.
3) Question: Long after his stints in Topper, Young played key supporting roles in films starring Hollywood’s most famous actresses. Which one of the following was NOT included? a) Joan Crawford; b) Marlene Dietrich; c) Paulette Goddard; or d) Greta Garbo.
4) Question: Young, born in London in 1987, and Charles Ruggles, born in Los Angeles the year before, are sometimes confused. Why? a) They are almost the same age; b) The actors broadly share the same comedy style; c) They physically resembled each other (see photo of Ruggles below); or d) They both played roles in the 1935 comedy Ruggles of Red Gap.
5) Question: Young rarely played bad guys but did so in a 1949 Bob Hope comedy. Can you name this picture? a) Sorrowful Jones; b) The Great Lover; c) Fancy Pants; or d) My Favorite Spy.