Throughout the 1940s, Zachary Scott (1914-1965) was the model
for sophisticated, debonair villains in American film. His
best-known roles include a mysterious criminal in The Mask of
Dimitrios and the indolent husband in Mildred Pierce. He garnered
further acclaim for his portrayal of villains in Her Kind of Man,
Danger Signal, and South of St. Louis. Although he earned critical
praise for his performance as a heroic tenant farmer in Jean
Renoir's The Southerner, Scott never quite escaped typecasting.
In Zachary Scott: Hollywood's Sophisticated Cad, Ronald
L. Davis writes an appealing biography of the film star. Scott grew
up in privileged circumstances--his father was a distinguished
physician; his grandfather was a pioneer cattle baron--and was
expected to follow his father into medical practice. Instead, Scott
began to pursue a career in theater while studying at the
University of Texas and subsequently worked his way on a ship to
England to pursue acting. Upon his return to America, he began to
look for work in New York.
Excelling on stage and screen throughout the 1940s, Scott seemed
destined for stardom. By the end of 1950, however, he had suffered
through a turbulent divorce. A rafting accident left him badly
shaken and clinically depressed. His frustration over his roles
mounted, and he began to drink heavily. He remarried and spent the
rest of his career concentrating on stage and television work.
Although Scott continued to perform occasionally in films, he never
reclaimed the level of stardom that he had in the mid-1940s.
To reconstruct Scott's life, Davis uses interviews with Scott
and colleagues and reviews, articles, and archival correspondence
from the Scott papers at the University of Texas and from the
Warner Brothers Archives. The result is a portrait of a talented
actor who was rarely allowed to show his versatility on the
Subjects: History, Film Studies
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