Van Heflin Edit Profile
Bachelor of Arts, Univercity Oklahoma, 1931. Postgraduate drama student, University California at Los Angeles, 1948.
He was good as the farmer in Shane (53, George Stevens), a blunt, honorable, not very perceptive man, as ignorant of violence as Alan Ladd is familiar with it—once more, the sense of family and of pioneering farming enterprise springs from Heflin's rugged plainness; and as the coward in 3:10 to Yuma (57, Delmer Daves), the nerve- shattered reverse of the farmer, harrowed by the task of taking a relaxed Glenn Ford to jail.
There were other good character studies, but what began as a very promising career petered out in the 1960s, perhaps because Heflin was a little too authentic. He was a young stage actor recommended to the movies by Katharine Hepburn: A Woman Rebels (36, Mark Sandrich); The Outcasts of Poker Flat (37, Christy Cabanne); Santa Fe Trail (40, Michael Curtiz); The Feminine Touch (41, W. S. Van Dyke); H. M. Pullwm Esq. (41, King Vidor); drunk, and the only good thing in Johnny Eager (41, Mervvn Le Roy), for which he won the supporting actor Oscar; Kid Glove Killcr (42, Fred Zinnemann); Seven Sweethearts (42, Frank Borzage); Tennessee Johnson (42, William Dieterle); Presenting Lily Mars (42, Norman Taurog); The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (46, Lewis Milestone); Green Dolphin Street (47, Victor Saville): Possessed (47, Curtis Bernhardt); very good as the haunted coward in Act of Violence (48, Zinnemann); Tap Roots (48, George Marshall); The Three Musketeers (48, George Sidney); as the husband in Madame Bovary (49. Vincente Minnelli); Weekend with Father (51, Douglas Sirk); My Son John (51, Leo McCarey); Wings of the Hawk (53, Budd Boetticher); Woman's World (54, Jean Neguleseo); Black Widow (54, Normally Johnson); Tanganyika (54, Andre de Toth); The Raid (54, Hugo Fregonese); Count Three and Pray (55, George Sherman); Battle Cry (55, Raoul Walsh); Patterns (56, Fielder Cook); Gunman's Walk (58, Phil Karlson); Tempest (57, Alberto Lattuada); They Came to Cordura (59, Robert Rossen); Five Branded Women (60, Martin Ritt); To Be a Man (63, living Lerner); Once a Thief (65, Ralph Nelson); Stagecoach (66, Gordon Douglas); The Big Bounce (68, Alex March); and Aiqmrt (70, George Seaton).
Served as second Lieutenant 9th Air Force, United States Army Air Force, 1942-1945.
Heflin never looked as smooth as a star, and he was not the sort of personality to contain the fantasizing pressure of mass audiences. Unlike many American movie stars, he looked recognizably American. This served him well in his best performances, interesting, unsentimental portraits of middle America: as the cop in The Prowler (51, Joseph Losey), an inventive study of a shallow, athletic materialist, a dissatisfied policeman who spends his time reading muscle magazines and who may be the very prowler that Evelyn Keyes first complains of. The density of Losevs film and its view of American opportunism owes a lot to Heflin’s grasp of the character.
Married Frances M. Neal, May 16, 1942. Children: Vana Gay, Cathleen Carol, Tracy Neal.