Trouble in River City
Today is the birthday of stage and screen actor Robert Preston (June 8, 1918 – March 21, 1987). You remember him in This Gun for Hire (1942) with Veronica Lake, don’t you?
He was the good guy. Alan Ladd was the bad guy. It’s a great movie, but no one noticed Robert Preston because the young Alan Ladd stole the show.
He was also Digby Geste in Beau Geste (1939) with Ray Milland and Gary Cooper.
And he was the wagon master in How the West Was Won (1962) who couldn’t get Debbie Reynolds to care, no matter how hard he tried.
Of course, he will always be remembered as The Music Man (1962). He finally got everyone’s attention in this one.
He won the Tony Award in 1958 for originating the part of Prof. Harold Hill on Broadway, but, of course, the studio wanted Frank Sinatra to make the movie. Meredith Willson, bless him, held out for Preston and he made the film.
Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it’s too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang? Are certain words creeping into his conversation? Words like “swell” and “so’s your old man”? If so my friends, ya got trouble!
So tonight let us toast the great Robert Preston, who only got better with age, and watch one of the fine aforementioned movies.
And, hey, I almost forgot, Robert Preston played Steve McQueen’s father in Junior Bonner (1972)!
Done and done.