Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews

A biography of the great film noir actor

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Library Journal
Dana Andrews (1909–92) was an overlooked, underrated actor, despite performances in classic 1940s films such as The Best Years of Our Lives, Laura, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Elia Kazan’s Boomerang! Rollyson (journalist, Baruch Coll., CUNY; Biography: A User’s Guide) describes Andrews as a master at portraying “conflicted emotion,” whose adoption of a “male mask” made him ideally suited to film noir. Unfortunately, this mask also concealed his addiction to alcohol, which increasingly limited his career, ultimately leading to parts in shoddy B-films, dinner theater, and even a role in a television soap opera. Rollyson tells a sympathetic account of a decent, hardworking actor who championed liberal causes (though his minister father supported the Ku Klux Klan), fought Hollywood’s blacklist, and brought reforms in his stint as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Finally, with great effort, Andrews overcame alcoholism and served as an advocate and public face for education and understanding of this debilitating illness.
Verdict Drawing on access to Andrews’s family and his extensive personal archives, this biography provides an admiring but unflinching look at Andrews’s life and career. Recommended for fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age. [This is the Turner Classic Movie channel’s September Book of the Month.—Ed.]—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA