From Bogart and Cagney to Pacino and DeNiro. A lot of great gangster tough-guys have come and gone over the years.
However none were as realistically convincing, and menacingly similar in life; to the cut-throats, mobsters and rough necks he immortalised on screen, as Lawrence Tierney.
Cagney and Pacino, like many others, were 9-5 tough guys on set, but Tierney (maybe in a hyper-dedicated form of method acting?) stayed in character 24/7. Whether it was breaking the jaw of a mouthy college student in a bar or dialling 9-1-1 and upon their arrival then attacking the police officers. He was a Hollywood Hellraiser; a breed similar to Mitchum, McQueen and Marvin. A distant cousin of his across-the-pound counterparts; Burton, Harris, O'Toole and Reed.
Tierney himself said "I must have thrown half a dozen careers away." Maybe more so - with the life he lead - a life literally torn apart by booze and self-destructive relationships.
But if you dig through the controversy... The alley fights, the bar brawls and the run-ins with lawmen and directors alike (once attempting to punch Quentin Tarantino on set of Reservoir Dogs), what you find is a very handsome, talented and convincing actor, who all but defined film noir, better than anyone before or since; and is much more deserving than the title of 'the most feared actor in Hollywood history.'
A man made for stardom, who couldn't quite handle it when he got there.
For great Tierney films, check out:
(1947) The Devil Thumbs A Ride
(1951) The Hoodlum
(1945) Dillinger (who portrays bank robber John Dillinger far more convincingly than J.Depp)
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