Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

People We Like: Rod Taylor

I got one over on a movie buff friend recently (the kind of rarified movie buff who only sees 'important' films, and who does not bother with the trashy stuff) by asking him to quickly name an actor who has worked with John Ford, Hitchcock, Antonioni and Tarantino. He was stumped, and couldn't believe the answer was that lightweight Rod Taylor.

Rod Taylor is one of those People We Like (the others are at the label...) who always brightens up a movie and has been quietly excellent for a long time. Notice how he anchors Hitch's THE BIRDS with his solid performance, his banter with Tippi being a constant delight (as scripted by Evan Hunter). The movie reference books usually referred to Rod and James Garner and Cliff Robertson as "amiable '60s leading men". 

Australian Rod was in Hollywood by the mid-50s, doing lots of television, popping up in GIANT and RAINTREE COUNTY, he is Debbie's beau in THE CATERED AFFAIR, and is somewhere in THE VIRGIN QUEEN, he is the young husband in SEPARATE TABLES and scored in comedies like ASK ANY GIRL and SUNDAY IN NEW YORK. His first lead was in George Pal's fondly remembered THE TIME MACHINE in 1960, and he did some peplums and costumers like the agreeable SEVEN SEAS TO CALAIS in 1962 (as reviewed at Rod label, it was fun finally catching up with that last year), before Alfred Hitchcock summoned him to Bodega Bay for the lead in his 1963 THE BIRDS. Rod was also one of THE VIPS that year, his scenes with Maggie Smith being the best in the film.

He and Smith were teamed again in the fascinating YOUNG CASSIDY released in 1965 - John Ford had began it but had to withdraw due to illness, it seems he shot the first 20 minutes and veteran Jack Cardiff took over. Its fascinating to see now, with that great cast. Rod with young Julie Christie, plus Maggie, and veterans like Flora Robson as his mother and Dame Edith Evans as Lady Gregory. I will be re-viewing it again shortly, as it is now on official dvd. 
Rod also did parts in FATE IS THE HUNTER, 36 HOURS (reviewed recently), HOTEL, two with Doris Day of course: the silly DO NOT DISTURB and Tashlin's THE GLASS-BOTTOM BOAT, as well as adventures like NOBODY RUNS FOREVER and THE LIQUIDATORS. Antonioni then cast him as Daria's big business boss in ZABRISKIE POINT - above.
Rod continued working, appearing in several episodes of MURDER SHE WROTE, a good one set in Australia THE PICTURE SHOW MAN in 1977, and played Churchill in Quentin's INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.  We trust Rod, now in his 80s, is having a happy retirement back in Australia. THE BIRDS is always on show somewhere, I see it quite a lot.  

Other People We Like here (as per labels) include: Stewart Granger, David Hemmings, Michael York, Michael Craig, Stanley Baker, Alan Bates, David Warner, Peter Finch, James Mason, Jean Sorel, Maurice Ronet, Jeffrey Hunter, Stephen Boyd, Sarah Miles, Anne Baxter, Mary Astor, Lee Remick, Kay Kendall, Joan Greenwood, Gladys Cooper, Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Ingrid Thulin, Silvana Mangano, Alida Valli, Lilli Palmer, Claudia Cardinale, Eve Arden, Agnes Moorehead, Thelma Ritter, Susan Hayward, Shelley Winters, Belinda Lee, Monica Vitti, and of course Delon and Belmondo, Romy and Anouk and Sophia and Dirk, 


  1. I've always like Taylor too, he always seem like someone it would be fun to sit and have a couple of drinks with. Have you ever seen Colossus and the Amazon Queen that he made with Ed Fury around the time of The Time Machine and 101 Dalmations? His participation is the most notable but also the most puzzling thing about it. It's loaded with homo-erotic subtext and dreadful dialog which is about par for the course for those sword and sandal opuses but both he and Ed are at their peak of attractiveness.

  2. I love those peplums, as per my posts on them (Peplums label) but do not know Rod's one, its one to look out for then. Seven Seas to Calais is a jolly romp too, from 1962, and again theres quite a bit of homo-eroticism with co-star Keith Michell who gives up the sea to settle down and marry. Irene Worth is a formidable Virgin Queen too.

  3. I have had to order COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN, they had one copy left at an expensive price, but I felt its worth it to get Ed Fury in his prime too, it seems a decliciously camp comedy according to the IMDB comments. So I will be reviewing that in due course. Rod was certainly lucky to go from those forgotten peplums to a major Hitchcock that is always on view, as well as some other major 60s films.