Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

Highest Rated: 100% The Naked Spur (1953)

Lowest Rated: 20% Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

Birthday: Nov 11, 1909

Birthplace: Not Available

It was his failure as a playwright that led Robert Ryan to a three-decade career as an actor. He was a unique presence on both the stage and screen, and in the Hollywood community, where he was that rarity: a two-fisted liberal. In many ways, at the end of the 1940s, Ryan was the liberals' answer to John Wayne, and he even managed to work alongside the right-wing icon in Flying Leathernecks (1951). The son of a successful building contractor, Ryan was born in Chicago in 1909 and attended Dartmouth College, where one of his fraternity brothers was Nelson Rockefeller. He was a top athlete at the school and held its heavyweight boxing title for four straight years. Ryan graduated in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, and intended to write plays. Finding no opportunities available in this field, he became a day laborer; he stoked coal on a ship bound for Africa, worked as a sandhog, and herded horses in Montana, among other jobs. Ryan finally had his chance to write as a member of a theater company in Chicago, but proved unsuccessful and turned to acting. He arrived in Hollywood at the end of the '30s and studied at the Max Reinhardt Workshop, making his professional stage debut in 1940. He appeared in small roles for Paramount Pictures, but Ryan's real film career didn't begin until several years later. He returned east to appear in stock, and landed a part in Clifford Odets' Clash by Night, in which he worked opposite Tallulah Bankhead and got excellent reviews. Ryan came to regard that production and his work with Bankhead as the pivotal point in his career. The reviews of the play brought him to the attention of studio casting offices, and he was signed by RKO. The actor made his debut at the studio in the wartime action thriller Bombardier. It was a good beginning, although his early films were fairly lackluster and his career was interrupted by World War II -- he joined the Marines in 1944 and spent the next three years in uniform. Ryan's screen career took off when he returned to civilian life in 1947. He starred in two of the studio's best releases that year: Jean Renoir's The Woman on the Beach and Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire, the latter an extraordinary film for its time dealing with troubled veterans and virulent anti-Semitism, with Ryan giving an Oscar-nominated performance as an unrepentant murderer of an innocent Jewish man. He continued to do good work in difficult movies, including the Joseph Losey symbolic drama The Boy With Green Hair (1948) and with Robert Wise's The Set-Up (1949). The latter film (which Ryan regarded as his favorite of all of his movies) was practically dumped onto the market by RKO, though the studio soon found itself with an unexpected success when the film received good reviews, it was entered in the Cannes Film Festival, and it won the Best Picture award in the British Academy Award competition. Ryan also distinguished himself that year in Dmytryk's Act of Violence and Max Ophüls' Caught, Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground in 1951, and then repeated his stage success a decade out in Fritz Lang's Clash by Night (1952). Along with Robert Mitchum, Ryan practically kept the studio afloat during those years, providing solid leading performances in dozens of movies. In the late '50s, he moved into work at other studios and proved to be one of the most versatile leading actors in Hollywood, playing heroes and villains with equal conviction and success in such diverse productions as John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Anthony Mann's God's Little Acre (1958), Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), and Peter Ustinov's Billy Budd (1962). Even in films that were less-than-good overall, he was often their saving grace, nowhere more so than in Ray's King of Kings (1961), in which he portrayed John the Baptist. Even during the late '40s, Ryan was never bashful about his belief in liberal causes, and was a highly vocal supporter of the so-called "Hollywood Ten" at a time when most other


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet City Beneath The Sea Actor 2011
20% Class of Nuke 'Em High Actor 1986
67% Street Trash Actor 1986
85% Birdy Joe Sagessa 1984
No Score Yet The Outfit Mailer 1974
90% The Iceman Cometh Larry Slade 1973
63% Executive Action Foster 1973
No Score Yet The Man Without a Country Actor 1973
No Score Yet And Hope to Die Charley 1972
63% Lawman Cotton 1971
No Score Yet The Love Machine Gregory Austin 1971
No Score Yet Captain Nemo and the Underwater City Capt. Nemo 1969
92% The Wild Bunch Deke Thornton 1969
67% Anzio (Lo sbarco di Anzio) General Carson 1968
No Score Yet A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die Gov. Lem Carter 1968
86% Hour of the Gun Ike Clanton 1967
86% The Dirty Dozen Col. Everett Dasher-Breed 1967
No Score Yet The Busy Body Charley Barker 1967
25% Custer of the West Mulligan 1967
88% The Professionals Hans Ehrengard 1966
57% Battle of the Bulge Gen. Grey 1965
90% Billy Budd John Claggart 1962
87% The Longest Day Brig. Gen. James Gavin 1962
85% King of Kings John the Baptist 1961
No Score Yet The Canadians nspector William Gannon 1961
No Score Yet Ice Palace Thor Storm 1960
88% Odds Against Tomorrow Earle Slater 1959
No Score Yet Day of the Outlaw Blaise Starrett 1959
No Score Yet God's Little Acre Ty Ty Walden 1958
No Score Yet Lonelyhearts William Shrike 1958
89% Men in War Lt. Mark Benson 1957
No Score Yet Back From Eternity Bill Lonagan 1957
No Score Yet The Proud Ones Marshal Cass Silver 1956
83% The Tall Men Nathan Stark 1955
83% House of Bamboo Sandy Dawson 1955
97% Bad Day at Black Rock Reno Smith 1955
No Score Yet Escape to Burma Jim Brecan 1955
No Score Yet Her Twelve Men (Miss Baker's Dozen) Joe Hargrave 1954
No Score Yet About Mrs. Leslie George Leslie 1954
No Score Yet Alaska Seas Matt Kelly 1954
No Score Yet Inferno Donald Whitley Carson III 1953
100% The Naked Spur Ben Vandergroat 1953
No Score Yet Horizons West Dan Hammond 1952
No Score Yet Beware, My Lovely Howard Wilton 1952
73% Clash by Night Earl Pfeiffer 1952
94% On Dangerous Ground Jim Wilson 1952
43% The Racket Nick Scanlon 1951
86% Flying Leathernecks Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin 1951
No Score Yet Best of the Badmen Jeff Clanton 1951
No Score Yet Born to Be Bad Nick Bradley 1950
No Score Yet The Woman on Pier 13 (I Married a Communist) Bradley Collins / Frank Johnson 1949
88% The Set-Up Bill "Stoker" Thompson 1949
100% Caught Smith Ohlrig 1949
90% Act of Violence Joe Parkson 1948
No Score Yet Return of the Bad Men Sundance Kid 1948
78% The Boy with Green Hair Dr. Evans 1948
No Score Yet Berlin Express Robert Lindley 1948
No Score Yet The Woman on the Beach Scott 1947
No Score Yet Trail Street Allen Harper 1947
33% Johnny O'Clock Policeman 1947
67% Dead Reckoning Detective 1947
81% Crossfire Monty Montgomery 1947
No Score Yet Life with Blondie 2nd Policeman 1945
No Score Yet Marine Raiders Capt. Dan Craig 1944
No Score Yet Tender Comrade Chris 1943
No Score Yet Gangway for Tomorrow Joe Dunham 1943
No Score Yet The Iron Major Father Timothy 'Tim' Donovan 1943
No Score Yet Behind the Rising Sun Lefty O'Doyle 1943
No Score Yet The Sky's the Limit Reg Fenton 1943
No Score Yet Bombardier Joe Connors 1943
No Score Yet The Feminine Touch Actor 1941
83% The Ghost Breakers Interne 1940
No Score Yet Texas Rangers Ride Again Eddie 1940
No Score Yet North West Mounted Police Constable Dumont 1940


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Larry Slade says: I saw that if men wanted to be saved from themselves that would mean they would have to give up greed. They wouldn't pay that price for liberty, so I said to the world God bless all here and may the best man win. Die of gluttony. I took a seat in the grandstand of philosophical detachment. Fall asleep watching the cannibals do their death dance.