Other Cowboy Stars – Bob Steele in “Great Bank Robbery”

December 9, 2011

This one was a real chore to watch.  It’s a lame comedy starring Zero Mostel and written by Mr. Funny himself, William Peter Blatty, the creator of “The Exorcist”.

But anything for you, dear reader.  I would walk barefoot over broken glass that was ON FIRE to chronicle one of Bob Steele’s final roles.  For you!

This turns out to be an audition for his role as Bank Guard in “Charley Varrick.”  Here, he’s credited as First Bank Guard, though he isn’t the first guard we see.  But that’s him, just over Claude Akins’ shoulder.

Despite this inauspicious introduction, he does have a name.  It’s Duffy.  Duffy spends most of his time in this flick playing cards and acting crabby.

If you were watching “The Great Bank Robbery” from Duffy’s perspective (and who would do that?!) here’s what you’d see.  He works at an impenetrable bank so he doesn’t sweat his job too much.  He’s grown to resent the grunt work, like bringing a subordinate coffee.  He’s mostly invested in the poker games with his fellow guards where he cheats.  He actually has some good instincts and could be a better guard and a better man, were he challenged by his job.  Possible salvation comes when he detects a flaw in the bank robber’s plan – a slight delay in the timing of an explosion in the vault matching the ceremonial cannon fire outside the bank.  He squanders this information as a ploy to get a peek at another guard’s cards.

We never see Duffy again and the robbery is a success.

Once again, a sad end to the narrative of the bit player.

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