THE MIGHTY QUINN
Anthony Quinn’s movie career spans almost six decades, and most of his work is available on video. Below are a few of his best films:
The Buccaneer (Paramount): Back in 1938, Quinn had a small part as a pirate in his father-in-law’s (Cecil B. DeMille) epic about the adventures of famed French pirate Jean Lafitte (Fredric March). In 1958, Quinn stepped behind the camera for the first and only time to direct the serviceable remake starring Yul Brynner as Lafitte.
The Guns of Navarone (RCA/Columbia): Exhilarating 1961 adaptation of Alistair McLean’s novel about Allied commandos during World War II and their near-impossible mission to destroy German guns. Quinn plays the tough Greek patriot Col. Stavros at odds with commando unit leader Gregory Peck. Great Dimitri Tiomkin score. The smashing special effects won an Oscar.
La Strada (Home Vision): Federico Fellini’s masterwork. The Oscar-winning 1954 drama tells the simple but powerful story of a brutish strongman (Quinn, in one of his best performances) touring the country with his assistant, a dimwitted young woman (Giulietta Masina). Richard Basehart also stars as a gentle clown. Haunting Nino Rota score. (Bravo cable channel is airing “La Strada” Thursday at 6 p.m. and again that evening at midnight.)
Lawrence of Arabia (RCA/Columbia): Make sure to get the restored, letterboxed version of David Lean’s 1962 Oscar-winning film about the mysterious British adventurer T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole). Quinn plays Arab chieftain Auda Abu Tayi.
Lust for Life (MGM/UA): Quinn received a best supporting actor Oscar, his second, for his effusive portrayal of painter Paul Gaughin. Vincente Minnelli directed the lush, literate 1956 adaptation of Irving Stone’s historical novel about the troubled life of painter Vincent Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas).
Only the Lonely (CBS/Fox): Quinn gives a charming performance in this 1991 comedy as a widower who has set his sights on his next-door-neighbor, the fiery-tempered Irish mother (Maureen O’Hara) of a lonely police officer (John Candy).
The Ox-Bow Incident (CBS/Fox): This 1943 socially conscious Western, directed by William Wellman, packs a wallop. Adapted by Dudley Nichols from Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s novel about mob rule, the film features wonderful performances from Quinn, Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. Quinn plays Juan Martines, an unemployed farmer who is unjustly accused of a crime.
The Plainsman (MCA Home Video): Blink and you’ll miss Quinn in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1936 epic about Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur) and Wild Bill Hickok (Gary Cooper). Quinn plays a Cheyenne warrior who delivers a war chant. Quinn later married DeMille’s daughter, Katharine.
Viva Zapata! (CBS/Fox): Quinn won his first best supporting actor Oscar for his larger-than-life turn as Eufemino Zapata, the brother of Emilio Zapata (Marlon Brando), the famed Mexican peasant who rose to the presidency of his country. Elia Kazan directed; John Steinbeck wrote the script.
Zorba the Greek (CBS/Fox): Quinn received a richly deserved best actor Oscar nomination for his indelible performance as a zesty, earthy Greek peasant in this appealing 1964 comedy-drama. Alan Bates also stars as a staid Englishman taught the ways of the world by Zorba. Lila Kedrova received a best supporting Oscar as Zorba’s mistress. Twenty years later, Quinn and Kedrova toured the country in the revival of the musical version, “Zorba.”