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Saturday, 15 January 2011

Top Ten Western Actors No 9 - Walter Brennan

Although never a leading man, he just wasn't the type, he didn't have the looks nor the teeth for that (he actually lost those in a 1932 accident), Walter Brennan improved ever single western he appeared in. Even when he starred alongside screen giants like John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Humphrey Bogart he would steal every scene he appeared in. He won the Oscar for best supporting actor three times and currently ties with Jack Nicholson for the most wins by a male actor.

Although primarily remembered for his western roles, Brennan was arguably the greatest character actor there has ever been and even if you remove all the westerns from his filmography it is still an impressive list - Sgt York, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Swamp Water to name but three.
Brennan excelled at playing grumpy old men, usually as the sidekick to the hero. One of the best examples of this is when he played Nadine Groot in one of John Wayne's best westerns, Red River. His performance in this picture never missed a beat and he provided strong support to the story of feuding father and adopted son. Incredible to think that only two years previously Brennan had been so menacing as Old Man Clanton in the classic, Oh My Darling Clementine. Yep Brennan had a wide range - from the lovable old man of Rio Bravo to the sadistic Jeb Hawkins of How the West was Won.

Rio Bravo is an excellent example of the Brennan's skill and screen presence - he appears alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin, who were both at the top of their form, and yet he still manages to make the movie his own.It was the same alongside James Stewert in The Far Country.

The western, any movie in fact, is so much more than just the actor whose name comes first in the credits and Brennan knew this.

Walter Brennan they certainly don't make em like him anymore.

Key westerns:
My Darling Clementine
Red River
Bad Day at Black Rock
Blood on the Moon
The Far Country
Rio Bravo
The Proud Ones

Below we have embedded a nice little video of a comedy Walter Brennan song called, Don't go near the Indians.


Randy Johnson said...

His series THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT was pretty good as well.

Ron Scheer said...

He brightened up any scene, even as a villain (MY DARLING CLEMENTINE) or when he didn't have any lines (THE PROUD ONES). Ford must have had the business about his teeth written into the script for RED RIVER. Thanks for this one.

old guy rambling said...

Loved the guy