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Date Posted: 10:35:56 05/30/18 Wed
Author: SWC
Subject: Ray Teal gets the best of Laurence Olivier

I've just watched the 1952 movie Carrie, (not based on the Stephen King horror story but on Theodore Dreiser's first novel, "Sister Carrie"). Ray Teal makes another of one of his juicy appearances in 50's movies before he got the job playing Sheriff Roy Coffee on Bonanza.

Laurence Oliver, the "actor of the century" was looking for something to make in Hollywood while his wife Vivien Leigh did "Streetcar Named Desire". William Wyler, who had directed him in "Wuthering Heights" just before the war, was making a film of Dreiser's novel, (he also wrote "An American Tragedy", which could have been the title of this story, too and was made as "A Place in the Sun" by George Stevens the previous year), and cast Olivier in the main male role, that of a successful restaurant manager in Chicago who got to where he is by always doing what he ought to and wound up with a comfortable life but an uncomfortable marriage to his shrewish wife, (Miriam Hopkins). He meets Carrie, a young girl from Missouri and falls in love with her. He decides to stop doing what he ought to do and start doing what he wants to do. it involves leaving his wife and family and stealing form his boss.

The boss sends a detective after Larry and it's Ray, who gives one of his overpoweringly sleazy performances, (although the detective really isn't dishonest: he just likes taking down people who are and rubbing it in while he does it). Oliver had made the decision to underplay his role and so Ray completely dominates their lengthy scene together as he orders him about. It's one of many confrontations between Olivier and people I recall from watching American television in the 50's and 60's. Eddie Albert plays a salesman, similar to on the one he later plays in Oklahoma. He also dominates his scenes with the great actor as his rival for Carrie's affections. You can also spot familiar faces like perennially gruff villain/businessman Barry Kelly as the owner of a low-grade restaurant where Oliver winds up working- and getting fired, handsome William Reynolds, who was in most of the Warner Brothers series at one time or another and had a continuing role in "The Gallant Men" and the usually dim-witted Robert Foulk, who had many supporting roles.

Oliver's decision to under-play his role eventually works, even though he has to give away scenes to more extroverted actors. He's playing a timid man who does something impulsively for the first time in his life and watches it fall apart as a result while he collapses from within. It's definitely a movie worth seeing, especially if you are a Ray Teal fan.

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