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Robert Ryan's Mob Boss Talks About His Wife

The Outfit came out in 1973 in some parts of the United States and in 1974 in other parts (the studio head was tired of bad early reviews in LA and NYC.)

Robert Ryan died on July 11, 1973, at the age of 63 (a too-common death age for such tough guys as Lee Marvin, Richard Boone, and William Holden, among others.)

But IN 1973, he had FIVE films released:

Lolly-Madonna XXX
The Man Without a Country(TV)
The Outfit
The Iceman Cometh
Executive Action

I honestly don't know which one of those is the "one he made last," but in The Outfit, Ryan is at once his usual mean, seething self -- the angry bad guy he could sell so well -- and also extremely thin, tired looking and frail.

Honestly, its amazing how much quiet rage and menace Ryan could still pull out of his too-thin physique and too-lined face. But he still had it.

Ryan is a mob boss in The Outfit. Lower level bank robbers Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker are gunning their way through "the outfit" to reach Ryan at the top. He was supposed to pay them off but he betrayed them so -- he's the target.

But before that point, Duvall visits Ryan's horse breeding ranch compound and talks to the mean old man , who is surrounded by henchmen.

We have just seen what seems to be either Ryan's hooker, or his mistress, or his wife. Its sexy redhead Joanna Cassidy, debuting. She looks just sexy enough and just worn enough to "fit" for a top gangster's moll. (She rather "predicts" a similar hot moll had by Boston gangster Jack Nicholson in The Departed if you want a decades later comparison. But maybe you don't.)

We've seen the lady bitching to Ryan about his desire to hear NFL scores(one figures its for bets, not fun) and he simply growls "shut up." These gangsters take no lip from their ladies.
She backs off, but doesn't. Its that kind of relationship.

Now, Ryan walks off to talk business with Duvall. They have reason to hate each other, but this is truce time, temporarily. Duvall wants money from Ryan. But before Ryan will discuss THAT, he talks about his wife to Duvall.

I found Ryan's dialogue to be weird, kind of prurient, and very funny. This is paraphrased:

Ryan: You saw that woman over there? She's my wife.
Duvall: Oh, good.
Ryan: She treats me right, you know what I mean?
Duvall: Good.
Ryan: No, I mean she treats me MIGHTY good.
Duvall: OK.
Ryan: I mean she treats me just right.
Duvall: Umm.
Ryan: I got no complaints, you know what I mean?
Duvall shrugs.

I made a lot of that up, but that's the TONE of the dialogue. This mean old, wizened, spindly thin geezer can still get turned on by the right he married her. We see both his vulnerability and why he's a mob boss. He got HER. He's got to protect his interests.

Ryan was evidently starting to weaken and get ill in such Western classics as The Professionals (1966) and The Wild Bunch(1969), but I thought he looked rather cool in both of them, especially The Wild Bunch with his longish hair and moustache. The cancer that killed him evidently started by thinning him down and weathering his features. It was as good look on him...until he looked very old. In The Outfit.

But you can figure that mob boss will hang on with every muscle he's got keep that wife.

Because she treats him REAL know what I mean?