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Despite his marriage to famed director Cecil B. DeMille's adopted daughter Katherine in 1937, Anthony Quinn spent his early film career playing bits and supporting parts. Moving from Paramount, DeMille's home studio, to Warner Bros. in 1941, Quinn hoped to escape the scourge of being "the son-in-law."
Things appeared to be looking up when studio head Jack Warner called the 26-year-old actor into his office to discuss playing the lead role, that of a self-destructive jazz-band leader, in Blues in the Night (1941). After the part had been turned down by studio stars Humphrey Bogart, John Garfield and George Raft, Warner was willing to give his new contract player a crack at it.
However, according to Quinn in his autobiography One Man Tango, his meeting with Warner did not go well. Quinn, eager to play a leading role, had decided to take the job. But, having found the script to be a "disaster" and knowing the history of refusal by other actors, he felt "there was some things I wanted to work out beforehand." When Warner asked him how he felt about taking on the role, he began by saying, "Well, Jack..." That set Warner off. "No chance, kid," the boss said, "and I'll tell you why. George Raft turned me down, Bogie turned me down. Garfield turned me down. You, I'm turning down!" With that he showed Quinn the door.
The role in Blues in the Night went to Richard Whorf, who won good notices and had some success with the picture. For Quinn, it was back to supporting roles in mostly minor films. One of these was Bullets for O'Hara, a remake of the crime drama Public Enemy's Wife (1936), in which Quinn plays a jewel thief whose wife (top-billed Joan Perry) divorces him and helps a detective (Roger Pryor) plot an ingenious revenge.
Producer: Bryan Foy (uncredited), William Jacobs (Associate Producer)
Director: William K. Howard
Screenplay: Raymond L. Schrock, from story by P.J. Wolfson and Abem Finkel (uncredited)
Cinematography: Ted D. McCord
Editing: James Gibbon
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Costume Design: Damon Giffard
Cast: Joan Perry (Patricia Mortimer Van Dyne), Roger Pryor (Detective Michael Aloysius O'Hara), Anthony Quinn (Tony Van Dyne, alias Tony Millard), Maris Wrixon (Elaine Standish), Dick Purcell (Wicks, the Chauffeur).
BW-50m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe