Chicago born, distinguished US actor and long time civil rights campaigner, Robert Ryan served in the United States Marines as a drill instructor (winning a boxing championship) and went on to become a key figure in post WWII American film noir and western productions.
Ryan grabbed critical attention for his dynamic performances as an anti-Semitic bully in the superb Crossfire (1947), as an over-the-hill boxer who refuses to take a fall in The Set-Up (1949) and as a hostile & jaded cop in On Dangerous Ground (1952). Ryan’s athletic physique, intense gaze and sharply delivered, authoritarian tones made him an ideal actor for the oily world of the film noir genre, and he contributed solid performances to many noir features, usually as a vile villain. Ryan played a worthy opponent for bounty hunter James Stewart in the Anthony Mann directed western The Naked Spur (1953), he locked horns with an intrepid investigator Spencer Tracy in the suspenseful Bad Day at Black Rock (1955… read more
Great actor and certainly one of the best. It is very difficult to create a list of his best films. Well, let me list these films anyway. WOMAN ON THE BEACH, CROSSFIRE, THE SET-UP, ON DANGEROUS GROUND, CLASH BY NIGHT, THE NAKED SPUR, INFERNO, HOUSE OF BAMBOO, MEN IN WAR, GOD'S LITTLE ACRE, DAY OF THE OUTLAW, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW, BILLY BUDD, THE WILD BUNCH, ...AND HOPE DIE, and THE ICEMAN COMETH. He had left the life time long of hidden gems and truely artistic masterpieces.
There was a dignity to Robert Ryan's performances and a natural quality that led some folks to think his work was effortless. It was not. He prepared meticulously for roles and acted 'from the inside out". He understood the psychology of the men he was portraying and it was that ability or gift that enabled him to achieve such authenticity, despite the variety of roles he played. An admirable actor, man...and human being.