By Douglass K. Daniel
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Extra resources for Tough as Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks
3 swell guys, brutes, and the blacklist I didn’t want to be part of the mob. I just want some of the good things in the world. Does that mean I have to kill somebody to get them? I want to be free. But how? What do you have to do to be free? What? from Richard Brooks’s novel The Boiling Point ntold numbers of people in the movie business looked forward to regaining their prewar lives and occupations. Mark Hellinger had interrupted his work as a producer for a stint as a war correspondent. A New York City native, he had been a newspaper reporter and Broadway columnist in the 1920s and 1930s, the era of Walter Winchell and Damon Runyon, as friendly with the authorities as he was with underworld figures.
Yet the film had some merit, and impact, because it dared to suggest that the military veteran Hollywood routinely lauded could at times be a phony at best and a sociopath at worst. ) Without a pedigree of note, Swell Guy would join other forgotten postwar movies. Working for the Hellinger operation, Richard quickly established himself as a man apart. After he gave up his Marine uniform, he began developing what would turn out to be a lifelong reputation for startlingly casual attire. “The rest of the writers would wear suits and ties to the writer’s table at Universal,” recalled his friend from New York, Malvin Wald, also a Hellinger writer after the war.
Love triumphs in the face of human sacrifice, murder, and volcanic eruption. Meanwhile, Jean was trying to keep her career going following Universal’s decision to end their association. After more forgettable work at low-grade studios like Monogram, she found better luck—and somewhat better material—at RKO. Producer Val Lewton was following up two popular low-budget thrillers directed with creepy style by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943). For his third Tourneur film, The Leopard Man (1943), Lewton cast Jean as the nightclub singer whose pet leopard escapes and is suspected of a killing rampage.
Tough as Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks by Douglass K. Daniel