Hollywood Enigma is a readable biography of one of Hollywood’s better, yet underappreciated male screen stars of the 1940s and 1950s. Dana Andrews was not a famous or flashy screen star in the mold of Gable, Tracy, or James Stewart, but his performances got to the heart of introspective, complex characters that probably would not have worked if he had been more famous or extroverted. Consider his performances in the Ox Bow Incident as a wrongly accused cattle thief and murderer, as confused detectives in film noir classics (Laura, Fallen Angel, Where the Sidewalk Ends), or as a returning World War II veteran with no idea of what to do with himself in Best Years of Our Lives. Background information on Andrews’ upbringing, personal life, and struggles to acquire meaningful roles provide insight to his performances and will likely spark an interest to revisit his films. His declining film roles through the 1960s and battles with alcoholism are discussed intelligently. This reviewer recommends Rollyson’s examination of this complex actor and his complex roles.
(Editor’s note: This title is part of the Hollywood Legends series.)