Farley Earle II, San Jose, California, 1 July 1925 (one source says
U.S. Armed Forces, 1944–46.
Actor. member of Eva La Gallienne's National Repertory Theatre and
Circle Repertory Theatre; appeared on episodes of the TV programs
United States Steel Hour
, 1977, and
Murder, She Wrote
, 1984; appeared on TV series
As the World Turns
as Earl Mitchell and on
One Life to Live
as Dr. Will Vernon, 1976–77.
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama,
One Life to Live
, 1977; Obie Award, for
Talley & Son
c/o Jay Julien, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036; 15 W. 72nd Street, no.
25D, New York, NY 10023, U.S.A.
The North Star (Milestone) (as Damian)
The Purple Heart (Milestone) (as Sergeant Howard Clinton)
Rope (Hitchcock) (as Phillip Morgan); Enchantment (Reis) (as Pilot Officer Pax Masterson)
They Live by Night (Ray) (as Bowie); Roseanna McCoy (Reis) (as Johnse Hatfield)
Side Street (Mann) (as Joe Norson); Edge of Doom (Robson, Vidor) (as Martin Lynn); Our Very Own (Miller) (as Chuck)
Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock) (as Guy Haines); Behave Yourself! (Beck) (as Bill Denny); I Want You (Robson) (as Jack Greer)
"The Gift of the Magi" segment of O. Henry's Full House ( Full House ) (King) (as Jim); Hans Christian Andersen (Vidor) (as Niels)
"Mademoiselle" segment of The Story of Three Loves ( Equilibrium ) (Minnelli, Reinhardt) (as Thomas Campbell Jr.); Small Town Girl (Kardos) (as Rick Belrow Livingston)
Senso ( The Wanton Countess ) (Visconti) (as Lieut. Franz Mahler)
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (Fleischer) (as Harry K. Thaw); The Naked Street ( The Mobster ) ( The Brass Ring ) (Shane) (as Nicky Bradna)
The Heiress (Daniels—TV)
Rogues' Gallery (Horn)
Qualcosa striscia nel buio ( Shadows in the Dark ) ( Something Creeping in the Dark ) (Colucci) (as Spike); The Challengers (Martinson—for TV) (as Nealy)
Lo chiamavano Trinità ( My Name is Trinity ) (Barboni) (as Major Harriman)
Alla ricerca del piacere ( Maniac Mansion ) ( Leather and Whips ) ( Amuck ) (Amadio); Lo chiamavano Mezzogiorno ( The Man Called Noon ) (Collinson) (as Judge Niland); Rivelazioni di un maniaco sessuale al capo della squadra mobile ( The Slasher Is the Sex Maniac ) ( Confessions of a Sex Maniac ) ( So Sweet, So Dead ) ( So Naked, So Dead ) ( Slasher ) ( Bad Girls ) (Montero); La Rossa dalla pelle che scotta ( The Red Headed Corpse ) (Russo); Le Serpent ( The Serpent ) (Verneuil) (as Computer Programming Director)
Arnold (Fenady) (as Evan Lyons)
Infamia ( Moglie giovane, La ) (d'Eramo); Polizia chiede aiuto, La ( Coed Murders ) (Dallamano)
The Lives of Jenny Dolan (Jameson) (as David Ames)
Widow (Thompson—for TV) (as Martin Caine)
Black Beauty (Haller—mini, for TV) (as Enos Sutton)
The Prowler ( Rosemary's Killer ) ( Graduation ) (Zito) (as Sheriff George Fraser)
Deathmask (Friedman) (as Douglas Andrews)
Hitchcock: il brividio del genio ( The Thrill of Genius ) (Bortolini, Mazenza—for TV)
The Imagemaker (Weiner) (as The Ambassador); The Whoopee Boys (Byrum) (uncredited); Very Close Quarters (Rif) (as Pavel)
The Celluloid Closet (Epstein and Friedman) (as Interviewee)
Agan, Patrick, Is That Who I Think It Is? Vol. 1, New York, 1975.
Lilley, Jessie, "Granger on a Train," in Scarlet Street (Glen Rock, New Jersey), no. 21, Winter 1996.
Pela, Robert L., "Goldenboy," in The Advocate , 20 August 1996.
* * *
Even before emotive, sexually ambiguous male stars—Marlon Brando and James Dean chief among them—emerged into prominence and surprising popularity during a time of industry crisis in the 1950s, the classic Hollywood cinema of the previous decade often found itself deeply invested in presenting a variety of masculine styles or, perhaps more radically, in problematizing that most conventional of stereotypes, the strong, indisputably heterosexual man of action. Gregory Peck, for example, incredibly handsome if somewhat short on brawn and aggressiveness, often found himself cast successfully in a variety of roles that suited a somewhat feminized display of pathos: as the amnesiac needing the ministrations of a woman psychiatrist in Spellbound ; as the conscience-stricken colonel enduring battle fatigue in Twelve O'Clock High ; as the gentile of good faith pained by racial prejudice in Gentleman's Agreement. Peck is even riveting as Lewt, the gorgeously reptilian object of Jennifer Jones's excessive desire in Duel in the Sun. Similarly endowed with good looks and charisma, Farley Granger began his career in Hollywood much like Peck. Both were introduced to the public in wartime epics about Russia as youthful romantic and Slavic figures, Granger in North Star and Peck in Song of Russia. Peck, however, could project sufficient strength and resolve to play more conventionally masculine roles in such films as Pork Chop Hill and To Kill a Mockingbird. Granger's screen persona suggested neither confidence nor the power to lead, and thus he found himself limited to either subordinate roles as a romantic presence or, more interestingly, in parts that went beyond narrow masculine and heterosexual formulas.
In North Star , Granger's youthful partisan is transformed into an object of pity by the German grenade that blinds him, with the result that he spends the rest of the battle with the women, resupplying the men. The Purple Heart offered him another small part that tests his manhood. Part of a bomber crew captured and put on trial by vengeful Japanese, Granger is tortured like the other men, at least ostensibly. He returns from his "interrogation" unable to speak, but bearing no physical signs of mistreatment; surprised, his buddies are led to question whether he cooperated. Though it turns out that he did not, his "hysterical" wound, so unlike those suffered by his maimed comrades, marks him out as different. In Side Street , he plays an unsuccessful newly married man who finds himself unable to resist stealing a huge amount of money, which is already stolen property, when the opportunity unexpectedly presents itself; Granger becomes the archetypal noir protagonist, weak, ineffective, a prisoner of circumstance and his own lack of character. The Naked Street offered him a similar role as a petty criminal whose ill-planned robbery of an old man puts him on death row, from which he is extricated by a powerful gangster only through his own foolishness to wind up there again, this time to be executed for a crime he did not commit. In Nicholas Ray's They Live by Night , Granger's youthful robber is a complex mixture of venality and innocence, the perfect vehicle for Ray's sociocultural analysis of the criminal subculture. Strikingly, in The Story of Three Loves he convincingly portrays a young man, who is actually a boy whose "magic wish" brings him to life so that he can romance the woman who was infatuated him. These performances, which are often strikingly original, contrast with Granger's moreconventional work as a second male lead in such films as Our Very Own and I Want You. Eventually, Granger went into television as his film career petered out in the 1950s; other generations became familiar with him in middle and advanced middle age because of a long term part on a famous American soap opera. Before leaving film acting, however, he appeared in several films that exploited the sexual ambiguity or maladjustment his persona suggested. The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing offered him the opportunity, of which he took full advantage, to play one of the century's most famous sexual psychopaths, Harry K. Thaw. Granger passionately evokes Thaw's jealousy, perverse attractiveness, and unhealthy maternal attachment, serving as the perfect foil to Ray Milland's more contained but equally overwhelming obsession for a beautiful young girl. Visconti's Senso gave Granger the opportunity to play a character similarly driven and destroyed by desire.
Granger's most famous work, however, was done for Alfred Hitchcock, in two films of the late 1940s that, in different ways, probed, without naming it, the nature of homosexual attraction and its connection to vengeful violence. In Strangers on a Train , Granger is the cuckolded husband of a predatory woman, but cannot persuade her to grant him a divorce so that he can marry the more normal Ruth Roman. Approached by the somewhat swish Bruno Anthony on a train, Granger finds himself seduced by the plot of exchanged murders he proposes. Though his own wife is murdered as per the agreement that Granger neither accepts nor rejects, he is unwilling to go through with the killing that Bruno insists upon, but it is unclear if this is a decision motivated by a moral imperative or the desire for self-preservation. Granger's character is exonerated in the end only when the more powerful Anthony proves unable to finish implicating him in his wife's murder. The psycho-sexual developmental failure that characterizes both "strangers" is neatly symbolized by Hitchcock's staging of their final confrontation on an amusement park merry-go-round.
In Rope , a fictionalized re-telling of the Leopold/Loeb murder case, Granger plays the weaker partner of the young male pair of college students, influenced by Nietzsche, who plot and then carry out the thrill murder of a friend. The narrative traces the gradual disintegration of their resolve to flaunt the crime. A victim of his own fearfulness and guilty conscience, Granger's character eventually dissolves into a hysteria not unlike that from which his tortured airman suffers in The Purple Heart.
—R. Barton Palmer