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A string of undemanding service comedies followed, though, and Ford's box-office descent began in earnest with a crude remake of Cimarron (1960).Cry for Happy (1961) soon afterwards did nothing to redeem his flagging reputation.
"It started early on, when I was younger than some of the actresses I played opposite," the actor claimed.Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford in Quebec, Canada, on May 1 1916.His father was a railroad executive and mill-owner, and a descendant of Sir John A Mac Donald, the first Prime Minister of the dominion of Canada who, when confronted by a crisis, was reputed to retire to bed with six bottles of port.In the course of his career, Ford turned his hand to almost every genre in the book.He was an adeptly impish comedian; and in westerns and dramas he tended to play the amiable yet introspective "Little Man" battling bravely against the forces of fate.Ford's career then once more fell on barren ground, with numerous pale parts in films such as The Undercover Man and The Redhead and the Cowboy.
After The Big Heat, he worked again with Lang — and again opposite Gloria Grahame — in Human Desire, a not entirely convincing remake of La Bête Humaine.Defying orders that rations should not be diverted to displaced persons, Ford persuaded supply-sergeants to turn a blind eye while he loaded his truck with food and medical supplies for the starving survivors. He was credited with single-handedly saving the lives of between 5,000 and 6,000 of the abandoned inmates, and women in the camp named new-born sons after him.On his return to Hollywood in 1946 Ford found some difficulty in resuming his career.Ford's finest film was undoubtedly The Big Heat (1953), in which, under Fritz Lang's Teutonic tyranny, he achieved an affecting intensity as the dogged cop who, after the death of his wife from a bomb intended for him, goes undercover to track down the gangsters single-handed.His other notable films from the 1950s included The Blackboard Jungle (1955), in which he was a slum-school teacher who eventually gains the respect of his class of murderous delinquents; 3-10 to Yuma (1957), in which he was a sheriff charged with getting his prisoner on to a train, despite the threatening presence of the prisoner's outlawed friends; and The Sheepman (1958), an understated but effective Western in which he played a tough sheep farmer at odds with the inhabitants of a cattle town."I never tried to shape my career," Ford once said, "as I always respected the judgment of others, but I guess I always play the 'Sheepman', the nice guy who never gives up."More recently Ford scored a hit with his portrayal of Superman's step-father.But this did not stop Columbia subsequently casting him in a series of dim programme-fillers, such as Texas; Go West Young Lady; and The Adventures of Martin Eden.