my top five favorite Alan Ladd roles.

This is my take on the ‘Mad About Ladd’ tag, which Rachel was kind enough to tag me with. We’ve spent many a happy hour watching Alan Ladd movies together—in fact, that’s what we’ve done with all but one of the following films. He’s very special to us both. ❤

And now let’s jump into the list!

Luke Smith – Whispering Smith (1948)

Luke is pretty much the perfect guy…except for his poor taste in best friends. In Whispering Smith, Alan plays a railroad detective who gets wounded and has to recuperate at the house of his friend Murray. Murray’s wife practically throws herself at Luke, but Luke gently puts her off time and time again. He also tries to keep Murray on the straight and narrow, with ultimately tragic results. No one can portray gentle, regretful melancholy quite the way Alan was able to, and it really shows in Whispering Smith. *sniffles*

Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby (1949)

What was I saying about melancholy?

…yeah.

This adaption of The Great Gatsby is a little odd at times, and certainly deviates from the book in some major ways. Alan’s portrayal of Gatsby, however, is pitch perfect (right along with Shelley Winters’ turn as Myrtle—but I digress). Charming, wistful, magnetic, handsome, longing for what he can never have—this Gatsby is everything Gatsby ought to be. It’s worth watching the film just for Alan’s performance.

Webster Carey – Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)

Captain Carey, U.S.A. begins during WWII where three friends carry out dangerous espionage work in war-torn Italy. Then they are discovered and Carey is the only one to make it out alive (or so he thinks). After the war, he returns to Italy, determined to find the person who betrayed him and his friends. Alan plays a man who is at turns vengeful, angry, heartbroken, despairing, and in love. Excellent work.

Choya – Branded (1950)

In Branded, Alan’s character Choya runs a long con on a wealthy family with the help of his business partner Leffingwell (a slimy Robert Keith). But Choya’s heart is turned by the family’s genuine kindness and he decides to help them instead of hurt them. While Peter Hansen ended up stealing my heart when I watched Branded (wasn’t expecting that!), Alan is great as Choya. You’ve got to love character development! Especially when it’s a person switching from being (relatively) heartless to “I’ll do anything for this family.” *chef’s kiss*

Shane – Shane (1953)

Shane was the second Alan movie I ever saw and Shane remains my favorite role of his. By far. There’s just something about the lonely, kind, strong-as-steel gunfighter that touches my heart every time—and Alan’s performance is a huge part of that.

One trademark of Alan’s acting is just how much he can communicate with his eyes, and that is never more clear than in his portrayal of Shane. So much yearning for a quiet life, knowing he can never have it. So much pride in the family that has taken him in. So much determination to make sure no harm comes to them. Those emotions go deep into my heart, giving me alllll the feels. And it’s all Alan’s fault. XD


Have you seen any of these films? Are you a fan of Alan Ladd? Do let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

20 thoughts on “my top five favorite Alan Ladd roles.

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  1. How is it that I’ve only seen Shane out of your fab 5!? I need to get with it! Thank you for these recommendations, Eva. They all sound wonderful!

    “No one can portray gentle, regretful melancholy quite the way Alan was able to” – so true ♥

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  2. I’ve heard that Shane is a really good western movie. Mostly because it’s featured in the X-Men movie, Logan, and that I’ve been told it has at least some similar themes. If I do end up doing a western movie month, I’d probably consider having this as one of them.

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    1. I heard that Shane was featured in Logan! One of my friends was extremely happy about that because Wolverine is her favorite X-Men character and Shane is one of her favorite western characters. The movie is well worth seeing, if you ever decide to watch it.

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  3. It’s so nice to see a fellow fan of these classic films! Who doesn’t like an Alan Ladd movie? The first time I saw him was in ‘Two Years Before the Mast’. (I think it’s from the 1940s) It’s funny for me to see any actor who is well-known for westerns take part in a swashbuckling movie and not think: “Wait, what are you doing in this?!?”

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    1. Ooh, I haven’t seen Two Years Before the Mast yet, though I own the DVD. Haha! Have you seen Botany Bay? Alan is really, really good in that one (and James Mason also stars, so bonus!).

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      1. James Mason was a talented actor too! – I absolutely loved him as the ‘villain’ the in Prisoner of Zenda(1952) and Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea! I haven’t watched Botany Bay yet, but I will hopefully get a chance to watch it later this week. Thanks for the recommendation!

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      2. Oh man, James Mason is AMAZING as Nemo! (I haven’t seen Prisoner of Zenda, but now that I know he’s in it I want to.) Really hope you enjoy Botany Bay. It’s a fun movie. 🙂

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    1. Yep! Pretty much the only criticism I have is that sometimes his ‘old sport’s came off a bit forced? Like it was just the script making him say it and not a natural thing? (I know that’s the case for anything written in a script–that the actors are *made* to say it, but you get what I mean. ;))

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      1. No, I do, I get what you mean… Not every bit of dialogue feels natural in every actor’s individual voice. There’s the character’s voice and then there’s the ACTOR’S voice, and you want them to mesh seamlessly, but sometimes they don’t.

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  4. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Excellent pick-me-up! Thank you!

    Luke Smith and Shane top my list of Alan characters, then probably Choya, Dan Holliday (from his radio show Box 13), and then probably Dr. Merek Vance from And Now Tomorrow.

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      1. Well, if you haven’t seen it by the time your mutual birthday rolls around, I may have to send you a copy. The official Vault Classics transfer is not particularly great, but it’s watchable enough to enjoy the movie. And you get Alan snapping out Raymond Chandler dialog again :-S

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  5. Glad to see Alan Ladd getting some love. Yes I’ve seen all these and Shane stands tall. My personal favorite is most likely a 1958 western he did with his son David and Olivia de Havilland, The Proud Rebel….. Cheers.

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    1. The Proud Rebel was the first Alan movie I saw, way back when I was a kid, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Another favorite!

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