- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2006

Anthony Quinn (1915-2001), the subject of a career retrospective scheduled for Wednesday evenings this month on Turner Classic Movies, was not one of the subtler actors in the history of the screen, but he has few peers as a stellar and reliable presence in the overly demonstrative range, where smoldering, lusty and volcanic sentiments predominate.

In addition to coinciding with the fifth anniversary of Mr. Quinn’s death, the TCM series coincides with Father’s Day. In his case, it’s a bemusing and justifiable linkage.Mr. Quinn attained international credibility as an often grizzled and irascible earth father of many nationalities.

In real life, the actor fathered 13 acknowledged offspring.Married three times, he hastened divorce proceedings with two wives of long duration, Katherine DeMille (the adopted daughter of filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille) and Iolanda Addolori (an Italian costume designer he met during the biblical epic “Barabbas”) by admitting to out-of-wedlock paternity.Mr. Quinn ventured into a third marriage at 82, with a partner in her late 20s.Summarizing his appeal, Jacqueline Bisset, his co-star in “The Greek Tycoon,” kept it simple by testifying, “It’s his masculinity. He knows he’s attractive to women.”

Hosted by Robert Osborne, the TCM tribute, sorely missing “Tycoon,” will revive 26 titles in a filmography that may tally a few hundred if bit roles and obscure foreign features are taken into account. Mr. Osborne also will dust off interviews he conducted with the elderly actor in 1999.

An hour of vintage conversation with Mr. Quinn begins the series this Wednesday at 8 p.m. It will be followed by a prestigious hat trick: “Zorba the Greek” at 9 p.m., “La Strada” at 11:30 p.m. and “Lust for Life” at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

These selections preserve Mr. Quinn in his middle-aged role of a lifetime, circa 1964; his fleeting but astute association with the European art-film sector in 1954, famously directed by Italy’s Federico Fellini; and one of two Academy Award-winning performances as best supporting actor, while playing Paul Gauguin to Kirk Douglas’ Vincent van Gogh 50 years ago.

Mr. Quinn was a perfect two-for-two as a supporting-actor candidate.He collected his first Oscar for playing Marlon Brando’s brother in “Viva Zapata!” in 1952.The film’s director, Elia Kazan, had chosen Mr. Quinn, who exiled himself from Hollywood in the late 1940s, as the first understudy to Mr. Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Mr. Quinn appeared in the initial road company, in Chicago, before inheriting the Broadway spot when Mr. Brando departed.The third understudy, Jack Palance, recalled that it was frustrating to back up Mr. Quinn, who hated to miss performances.

Among several oversights, the TCM series has failed to revive “Viva Zapata!” or “Wild Is the Wind,” the 1957 co-starring vehicle with Anna Magnani that brought Mr. Quinn his first nomination as best actor.In 1964, it was pretty much the overwhelming popular and critical opinion that Mr. Quinn was born to embody the title character in “Zorba,” a resourceful and worldly-wise Greek peasant who befriends Alan Bates as a shy English newcomer to the island of Crete.

Even people who felt Zorba was more insufferable than irresistible thought him a definitive alter ego for Mr. Quinn, who brought utter conviction to the character’s zestful platitudes, such as “Life is trouble. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”

Only the first and last Quinn evenings make a strong bid for attention.Three of his major pictures of the 1960s are scheduled for June 28: “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” the 1962 film version of Rod Serling’s acclaimed teleplay, in which he inherited a role originated by Jack Palance; David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia,” the movie event of 1962; and “The Shoes of the Fisherman,” which cast Mr. Quinn somewhat against expectations as a humble candidate for the papacy, circa 1968.

Folks who go back with Anthony Quinn still might ask, “What became of ‘The Guns of Navarone ?‘“Somehow, TCM has missed the opportunity for a Greek trilogy of “Zorba,” “Navarone” and “The Greek Tycoon.”

It seems almost an idle jest that the series will conclude in the wee hours of June 29 with “Tycoon.”That’s one of the John Wayne movies of the late 1940s in which Mr. Quinn played a thankless supporting role.

The June 14 and 21 Quinn evenings are overstocked with titles that recall his prolonged apprenticeship as a struggling or stymied Hollywood contract player at Paramount, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox from 1936 to 1947.

Three-quarters Mexican (his paternal grandfather was an Irishman), Mr. Quinn married into Hollywood royalty in 1937, but his career was not elevated by becoming Cecil B. DeMille’s son-in-law. On the contrary, it remained an abiding grievance.

With “One Man Tango” (1995), Mr. Quinn’s final book of memoirs as a guide, a diverting retrospective could be organized around his off-screen romances with leading ladies. Alas, this organizing principle is neglected in the TCM series. If Mr. Quinn can be trusted, his eligible partners ranged from Rita Hayworth during “Blood and Sand” and Maureen O’Hara during “Sinbad the Sailor” to the ill-fated starlet Suzan Ball during “City Beneath the Sea,” Dominique Sanda during “The Inheritance” and both Ingrid Bergman and Pia Lindstrom during “The Visit.”None of these titles gets a TCM reprise.

Oh, well, a centennial year, 2015, isn’t far away. Sooner or later, programmers may prefer to accentuate the amorous Anthony Quinn.

SERIES: “Anthony Quinn”

WHERE: Turner Classic Movies cable channel

WHEN:Wednesdays at 8 p.m. throughout June

WEB SITE: tcm.com

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