Farley Granger

(born 1925)

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Hitchcock UK 7 Dvd Box Set Incl. Strangers on a Train

Never Quite Reached The Top

Farley Granger was born in San Jose, California on July 1, 1925 and straight out of high school, was recommended to Samuel Goldwyn for a small role in The North Star (1943). Goldwyn, as Farley tells it, "was one of the early first independents. He did maybe a film a year at most. Unfortunately for me, most of my films had to be on loan-out to MGM, RKO, Fox and Warner. That was very catch-as-catch-can, which I didn't particularly enjoy."

He followed his first role with a big part in The Purple Heart ('44), and then joined the navy. For a while after his release, he pounded in vain on studio doors, till at RKO Nicholas Ray cast him in They Live By Night ('48) co-starring Cathy O'Donnell. Howard Hughes, the head of the studio, held it up for a year, but rumors of quality leaked out (and were confirmed by critics).

By the time it was shown Granger was making Rope (co-starring James Stewart and John Dall) for Alfred Hitchcock and had been signed by an impressed Goldwyn to a five-year contract. Making Rope was invigorating, but it was also, as Farley recalls, "pretty crazy", as the actors tried to emote with technicians frequently moving walls and furniture around them.

As it turned out, every reel had to be shot at least three times, and one required fifteen takes. Says Granger, "There were endless, endless technical things that were problems." The biggest mishap occured when a wall wasn't shifted quickly enough, and the camera dolly crashed into it, suspending filming for the day. Still, Rope was shot in less than a month. On February 20, Jimmy Stewart was done with his portions of the film, and the picture wrapped the following day.

Farley's first picture for Sam Goldwyn was Enchantment which also starred Evelyn Keyes, David Niven and the lovely Teresa Wright.

His big launching was to be Roseanna McCoy ('49), a story of the famous feud between two hillbilly families--but it did poorly at the box office.

Farley was then loaned out to MGM for Side Street, similar to They Live By Night which re-teamed him with Cathy O'Donnell. While he was working Side Street, Goldwyn prepared two more pictures destined to launch Granger and Joan Evans as the screen lovers of the '50s: Our Very Own ('50), a soap opera which also involved Ann Blyth, and Edge of Doom, in which he murdered a priest. Both failed conspicuously and a fourth co-starring film, All for Love was cancelled. Joan Evans quietly disappeared from the Goldwyn contract list. Goldwyn was no happier with Farley, who refused to be loaned out for a new version of Lorna Doone. So Sam Goldwyn suspended him; but while the unfortunate Richard Greene was landed in this dreadful Lorna, Granger was being sought by Hitchcock for Strangers on a Train ('51), as the socialite tennis-champ embroiled by Robert Walker in his murderous plans. It was a good performance, though Hitchcock later said that the situations might have been more effective with a 'stronger' actor.

Farley adds, "I learned by mistakes. I didn't come up gradually--it might have been better if I had. But I didn't, so that's that. Right away, I was put in a position that I was very young for, and also had no background particularly to cope with it. I was lucky that the first two films I did were with Lewis Milestone, the director. Then I worked with some other good directors who really took care of me, were really very good to me and helped me a great deal. I loved working with Nick Ray [in They Live By Night]. I thought he was terrific. And, of course, I enjoyed working with Hitchcock very much. I felt he liked me, and we got along well--I thought that was good, because lots of times, he didn't particularly like actors. He wasn't too kind about them on several occasions.

"But then I began to feel, I really had to do this on my own. I have to know what the heck I'm doing. I can't depend on anybody else."

Goldwyn Studios never had a young player program as most of the other studios did, so unlike Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis, there were no kissing classes for the young man Sam Goldwyn called "Mr. Granger."

Mr. Granger explains, "They didn't have any of that stuff. Goldwyn was a very independent person. There was Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo--that was about it. He had very few people under contract to him."

Farley was loaned out yet again for a comedy with his pal Shelley Winters entitled Behave Yourself, then back to Goldwyn for I Want You co-starring Dana Andrews.

In the following year, Granger made O. Henry's Full House, playing Jeanne Crain's husband in "The Gift of the Magi" segment, the picture also starred Marilyn Monroe.

Farley was not particularly happy at Goldwyn Studios, what with the many loan-outs, however he did learn about his craft. Including the importance of publicity. "They had, as every studio did, their own publicity department, which studios no longer do. Everybody now has to be out on their own. The publicity department just took care of everything whether you wanted them to or not! Nine times out of ten, you'd read something in the paper that was totally bogus, you know, but the studio had put it out. At first I accepted it, because I didn't know any better. I was very young. And then, after I felt that I was beginning to achieve something, some of it, I thought, was really not proper, and I didn't like it. Many people didn't. A lot of the stories for the movie magazines were completely made up. The articles would say, 'Well, then, Farley said to me...and he told me this...,' and I'd never had the interview! It annoyed me, that kind of behavior."

His last movie for Sam Goldwyn was Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye. After two pictures at MGM (Small Town Girl and The Story of Three Loves), Goldwyn let Farley go to Europe to make a picture, at a fee of $85,000, on the condition that he had the right to re-sign him to a new long-term contract when the present one expired in 1955.

The movie was Luchino Visconti's Senso ('54), and Farley played an Austrian soldier who betrays Alida Valli. Senso is considered to be his very best work. "I enjoyed working with Visconti very much," Farley said. "He was very dictatorial. I had never done any kind of European film before, and I found it absolutely fascinating. I had a six-week contract, and the film went on for six months. I was exhausted from it. Visconti was a true artist in every respect, totally different from the Hollywood people."

After the picture was completed, Farley purchased a house in Rome, but later in 1955, he starred in a play, "The Carefree Tree", on Broadway.

Farley finally bought out his contract from Sam Goldwyn. "He had really no films for me, and I just didn't want to do the loan out stuff anymore. If they'd pay the price, he would loan me out, whether the film was good or bad."

Part of the problem was that the other studios already had stars under contract, and so it was cheaper to use them rather than bring in the outsider, Granger, from another studio.

Though he lived in Europe, he went back to Hollywood for The Naked Street and The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing. He then focused on doing television and stage work. "I had great admiration for the theater. When I finally got to New York and saw some theater and met some people involved in it, I developed a great love for the theater. I wanted desperately to work in it. I began more and more to prefer that to film, because I felt you were freer and could do more on stage than in a film. In a film, so much depends on everybody else. That began to work on me."

He was much adored by his many fans, as he is today. He describes the situation: "Some of the fans were very, very nice, and some of them were horrendous. I was on a tour where some of the people got hysterical, screamed, yelled, fainted, and the police had to take me out of a Boston theater by fire escape. I didn't think that was particularly meaningful of what I was trying to do."

During the next ten years, Farley performed on stage, doing stock and also worked in television. He starred in a made-for-TV movie, Laura co-starring Lee Radziwill, Jackie Kennedy's sister. He then turned back to Italy where he made a few more pictures and did some television. Then, in the late '70's, he returned to the stage to do "A Month in the Country" and "The Streets of New York", both off-Broadway productions.

Farley isn't on the scene as prominently these days, having recently celebrated his 79th birthday, he is still living in New York. But, as he says, "I've always believed - maybe I've done it too much, to a degree - but I always felt I would rather have people saying, 'Where is he? I'd like to see more of him.' Rather than, 'Oh, God, that's him again in some lousy picture. I don't want to see him.' And to do bad work just to work, I don't believe in it, if you don't have to. It's like with television. There's just so much junk. It's good for young people to get experience. But once they have a kind of name, they should be careful."

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farley granger dvds

farley granger videos

farley granger

books | dvds | videos

laurence olivier | clark gable | vivien leigh | leslie howard | alfred hitchcock | robert montgomery | grace kelly | conrad veidt
olivia de havilland | humphrey bogart | howard hawks | frank capra | charlie chaplin | lauren bacall | fritz lang
jean harlow | greta garbo | ava gardner | audrey hepburn | edward g. robinson | john garfield
erich von stroheim | wim wenders | madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | rita hayworth

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