Elisha Cook Jr. (1903-1995) represents the great Hollywood character actors – never out of work and never having the worries of a star. Maybe even being able to walk down Hollywood Boulevard in relative anonymity.
Elisha fought with Bogie, wed Marie Windsor, befriended Lawrence Tierney, was like a son to Sydney Greenstreet and stood up to Jack Palance in “Shane”.
Did he ever get to smile? Yes, he did in “ Stranger on the Third floor”(1940), though he’s accused of murder.
He was mostly timid, quietly menacing , small time gangster, and always believable.
In “Born To Kill”, he matter-of-factly tells Lawrence Tierney,
“You can’t just go around killin’ people whenever the notion strikes you – it’s not feasible.”
In “The Maltese Falcon”, Sidney Greenstreet tells him:
“ Well Wilmer, I’m sorry indeed to lose you. But I want you to know I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son.
But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.”
As the drummer in “Phantom Lady”, reacting to the come-on from Ella Raines.
Willing to take part in a robbery to keep his ever loving wife (played by Marie Windsor) in the style which she’d like to become accustomed.
As ‘Stonewall’ Torrey in SHANE.
Handsome young man.
Elisha was active in films and television till the 1980s.
He was an integral part of some iconic cinema moments. His humiliation by Spade in The Maltese Falcon is by turns amusing and upsetting, and his demise in Shane is one of the great shockers, highlighting the brutality of Palance’s character and the fact that violence has real consequences and no glamour whatsoever.
He was very effective as a murderous disc jockey called Nick The Night Owl in The Falcons Alibi, married to singer Jane Greer.
Sounds a good one.
Indeed. I think the scene in Shane is the one I always remember.
Unfortunately Jane was another unfaithful wife for Elisha in this one!