Saturday, January 20, 2018

O'Brien's Back!

Why, yes, literally! We stumbled upon the joys of silent film hunk (and later talkie western star) George O'Brien back in 2011 and have tried to find ways to include him in photo essays and so forth ever since. But as it's been a while since we've given him the once over and January is dragging on relentlessly with a cold snap and snow, we though we'd warm things up with a few more pictures of the hunkalicious Georgie.
Here's a front view of our brawny lad.
Do I hear a request for a side shot? LOL From any angle George O'Brien was delicious. These particular boxing poses are for the film East Side, West Side. Don't you find them surprisingly contemporary when I tell you the movie was released in 1927?
But then one of the many great attributes of O'Brien is that he often reads so contemporary in contrast to other silent stars. This is he with Marguerite Churchill in Riders of the Purple Sage (1931.) (The two were wed from 1933 to 1948, with three children born. It was his only marriage.)
He was a rugged, heroic leading man that women just loved to cling to (as Heather Angel does in this still from Daniel Boone, 1936.)
Or here we have Dolores Costello seeking refuge in his arms in Noah's Ark, a 1928 disaster movie so ferocious that he lost both his big toenails during The Great Flood thanks to debris in the water that was thrust upon him and the throngs of extras.
Mystery Ranch (1932) with Cecilia Parker. Check out the open shirt and languidly sexy body language.
Same movie. He was just a brawny dream.
Many of his movie titles have macho names such as Hard Cock Rock Harrigan (1935) The Roughneck (1924), A Holy Terror (1931), Life in the Raw (1933) - if only!, The Dude Ranger (1934), When a Man's a Man (1935), Park Avenue Logger (1937) and others.
Here he's getting quadruple-teamed - at least! - in Timber Stampede (1939.)
And here is is returning the favor. His timber has made me stampede for a while now! LOL
Or how about 1937's Windjammer?
He made a hunky seaman, with muscles bulging on deck.
He was the rough and tumble lead in countless rustic movies. This scuffle is from Border G-Man (1938.) What is the bad guy in the middle looking at?
In the earlier stages of his career, they slicked down his hair the same way as all the other actors of the day (and he looked damn fine that way also.)
And there were times he was dandied up with fancy cowboy gear and makeup, again, like most of the stars of his time.
It was when he was permitted to be his plain ol' gorgeous self that he truly shone. (This photo is from 1927.)
But apart from his manly, solid face, there was also that BODY. Like the gentlemen shown above, many of us preferred him with as little on as possible!
That's our George in the loin cloth near the right in The Golden West (1932), a film in which he played a white man and then later that man's son, raised by Indians as seen here.
He's all but naked in this very early Adam & Eve-like photo session.
For all I know, the last photo might have been part of or for promotion of the 1926 movie Fig Leaves, with time-travel fantasy sequences. (His character was named Adam and it looks like Olive Borden in both pics.) This caveman-era rendition of earth's first couple is a precursor to The Flintstones!
O'Brien was a real-life boxer (light heavyweight champ of the U.S. Navy) and he was shown as a boxer in more than one film. Here's a tinted shot from the same photo shoot that began this post. They've made his trunks red.
The movie-makers knew where their bread was buttered, with George's semi-clad form looming on posters! The movie East Side, West Side was renamed "Titanic" for foreign release. A ship does sink in the film, but it's a barge, not the Titanic! Incidentally, O'Brien did this water-logged sequence, the aforementioned Noah's Ark and, believe it or not, also starred in 1926's The Johnstown Flood, all about that real-life disaster! It's a miracle Irwin Allen didn't come calling for him in the 1970s.
Here's Gorgeous George in an earlier boxing movie of his, The Fighting Heart (1925.) If anyone expects me to tune into boxing matching on TV, they'd better figure out how to make the fighters wear shorts like the ones shown here instead of baggy trunks...!
As far as I'm concerned, though, O'Brien's finest hour was in Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) as described in my earlier post linked in the first paragraph. I love his scruffy looks, his intensity and the fact that he was completely willing to cry on cue in the movie. Sunrise is best-known for being one of the films that won Janet Gaynor an Oscar - and she's good - but I feel that today most folks would come away from it thinking of George O'Brien afterwards.
Given my deep love of Clint Walker, it's no surprise that I adore O'Brien, who was something of a forerunner in dwarfing the scenery around him (even at 7" shorter than Walker) and doffing his shirt for nearly any reason or occasion.
Just look at him in 1931 and tell me he doesn't seem as immediate as tomorrow.
In a forty-year career, O'Brien made more than 80 movies, most within a three-decade period. He was popular enough to be noted alongside famed performers like Jean Harlow and Hedy Lamarr, with his physique being noted, of course. If you think I was going to let that cartoon drawing suffice when it came to this post, you must not know me very well!
I think this is the true and actual orientation of the picture, even though the cartoon was going the other way, based on the way he usually swept his hair. nevertheless, in case the photo was flipped by mistake... he is again. Any way you flip-flop him, he was divine.
I think I've made enough of a racket (see what I did there), so I'll leave you with this one last glance at the god himself. Mr. O'Brien lived to be eighty-six and never drank or smoked, thus retaining his looks for long after he abandoned our movie screens in 1964. We hope you enjoyed this latest gander at him!


normadesmond said...

That was pleasant.

VictorG said...

Love love love discovering hunky movie stars of yore, thank you for enlightening us on the talents of Mr. George O'Brien! Your wonderful website never ceases to amaze with the newly rediscovered details of entertainment history. Thank you for making the winter of our discontent a whole lot hunkier.

Forever1267 said...

Oh my my my my my!!! And those shorts with the surfboard seem to be making a sand castle inside them!

He could have played Clint Walker's father, or Patrick Warburton's great-grandfather. Delicious!

joel65913 said...

Almost so good looking it's painful! His look is perhaps the most contemporary of the classic stars. I think because not only is his physique more along modern lines than most men of the period but his hair must have been unusually thick since even though it was Brilliantined like everyone else's it merely looks tousled instead of slicked down.

The greatest actor? No, but he could be good as he was in Sunrise and was always easy on the eye even if the film was negligible.

Gingerguy said...

Wow, what a cutie. I am partial to Irish looks (must be something in my blood) but you are right on target with how contemporary he looks. "When a Man's a Man" sounds like my kind of movie. That really is some body, the last picture is a stunner-that tummy is a washboard. Thanks for this fun post!

Poseidon3 said...

Well I'm glad several of you liked this and could appreciate the beefy appeal of Mr. O'Brien!

Norma, you're always so verbose. LOL! Glad you liked it.

VictorG, thank you very much for the kind words. They mean a lot. Trust me, I like discovering them, too!

Forever1267, you're so right! I love his little shorts (they pretty much qualify as briefs!) Hard to believe that men's swimwear could be so fun back in the day. I despise what is seen at pools and on beaches now. (And so many young men swimming with underwear -!- on under their "suits.")

Joel, his hair was crazy thick. And I think he kept most of it until he was up in years. Obviously no man is going to hang on to his looks at 86, but he was still a nice looking man for a long time after (prematurely) retiring from the screen. I agree with you completely about some of his films. I have no clue why, but a local store was selling "The Iron Horse" on DVD for like $3.00 or maybe $5.00 and I never bought it. Then one day the store was closed up. LOL I wish I would have gotten it just for the hell of it.

Gingerguy, it looks like "When a Man's a Man" is a western about water rights, so I can't vouch that it lives up to its title! LOL I did watch some of "Windjammer," which was a bit of an oddity, though George looked good in his tight t-shirt. Sometime, disaster fan that I am, I need to see "Noah's Ark" and "The Johnstown Flood." Glad you liked Mr. O!

Poseidon3 said...

Okay...I just watched a great amount of "The Iron Horse," which is on youtube in more than a dozen parts. But the undoubted highlight is a knock-down, drag-out fight between O'Brien and the man who killed his father. They tear half of each others' clothes off! It alone is worth watching and here it is:

Unknown said...

Well I've seen Sunrise more than once, and I never knew all that was going on underneath. No wonder Janet (and others) were so "clingy."

Looking at all the headshots, I'm not sure if I would have known it was the same guy from year to year, and genre to genre. I wonder what his following was like back in the day. Maybe they had a hard time keeping track of him as well.

Poseidon3 said...

Dave, he seems to have been quite a star. He was the leading man, often above the title, in many a 1920s and 1930s film, later segueing to supporting roles as he got older. And he also appears to have been featured in many a movie mag layout. I think because his films didn't wind up as bonafide classics ("Sunrise" excepted) -- many were B westerns -- and his leading man era was over by the time he turned 40, he drifted out of the public's consciousness and not too many contemporary viewers have bothered to dig back into his work. (He had a highly distinguished and decorated naval career during and after WWII which took him out of the Hollywood circle for a large hunk of time.) He apparently did only one TV acting appearance (in 1957), though there might be some unaccounted for. I think he found other ways to fill his time after 1940 besides the occasional acting gig (almost always for John Ford.)

Gingerguy said...

Watched the clip, pretty great stuntman and hot hot hot.