In an early chapter of  BDA I wrote somewhat reverently about a close family friend, film director Rowland Brown. As a young boy, I loved Rowland.  He was right up there with Atticus Finch, as my all-time hero. (Still is!)  But, unlike Atticus, Rowland was real. He had become a substitute father figure for dad, who had moved on to Asia. Rowland was big, friendly and showed tremendous respect for my mother, so what’s not to love? (It wouldn’t be until my early 20s, that mother revealed she had been having an ongoing, albeit, very intermittent affair with Rowland from the late 1930s forward.)  Rowland,  like my grandfather Harvey – hated George. 

          Three of Rowland Brown’s films. (writer on Nocturne)     Photo of mother circa 1944

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I thought I would share with you a short anecdote, about Rowland, from the book, We Only Kill Each Other: The Life and Bad Times of Bugsy Siegel, by Dean Jennings (Prentice-Hall 1967) (A great read!)  

 

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Click below to read Rowland Brown/Bugsy Siegel anecdote


 
Brown anecdote.pdf



Spencer Tracy/ Rowland Brown from “Quick Millions” 1931


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10 Comments

  1. Ian Elliot on July 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Is there any chance we could see an enlarged version of the photo of Rowland Brown with his actors in the upper left? I’ve been very interested in his work for many years but have never seen his picture anywhere. Thank you!
    Ian Elliot

  2. Steve Hodel on July 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Ian:
    Don’t have that available, but here is a great photo of Rowland with Spencer Tracy in Rowland’s 1931 film, QUICK MILLIONS. Best Regards,
    Steve

  3. Ian Elliot on July 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    That’s a great shot, thank you!
    I find your all of your blog really fascinating. I remember reading that Rowland Brown was to direct RED DUST. He may have even started the shoot or preproduction, I haven’t been able to locate the reference.
    He clearly wasn’t one to compromise his vision for a film, contemporary papers mention many fallouts with studios and producers (regarding his unfinished projects, one feature states, “He never argued with studio bosses. Either he got his own way or he walked out.”) It’s a great loss to cinema that he didn’t direct anymore pictures after BLOOD MONEY, those three films are startlingly intelligent and many years ahead of their time. He would have been right at home making THE SOPRANOS!
    His work is celebrated, but he’s a very mysterious figure to film historians, little is known about him, particularly after his 1930s career. Thank you so much for sharing your memories.
    Cheers, Ian Elliot

  4. Debra on March 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Rowland C Brown was my ex-mother-in-laws father. My oldest son was named after Rowland- though- spelled differently- Roland Chauncy Browne (he will be 28 yrs. old this yr.). I know very little of his great grandfather, and found this blog very interesting. Thank you.

  5. Steve Hodel on March 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Rowland Brown was an iconoclast and an exceptional Hollywood writer/director. He had a strong sense of Justice and was truly one of the “good guys.” Took no crap from anyone and stood up against abuses of power and spoke out for “the little guy.” A theme in many of his films.

  6. Carol a on April 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Rowland Brown was my great uncle, my mother’s father’s brother. I have grown up listening to my mother tell fascinating stories of my Uncle Rowland. I decided to google his name this afternoon and I happened upon your blog. I enjoyed the information. My mother kept a scrapbook on Rowland, and it was filled with fascinating clips, pictures and whatnot. I am sad to say she passed to my cousin Daphne or her brother, my cousin Steven and now no one knows where it has ended up. Oh, by the way, I was told , from a very young age that I am the only one, out of my eight siblings, that takes after my Uncle Rowland. I wished I could have met him. He died a year before I was born.

  7. Steve Hodel on April 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Carol:
    Your uncle was a remarkable man. Great talent. Always for the underdog.
    One of his “hot buttons” was abuse of power. (Mine too.) You should be proud that the family likens you to him. Some great genes there. He was one of the Good Guys.
    Best, Steve

  8. liana getchell on June 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I AM NOT REAL GOOD AT WRITING BUT THIS WAS SENT TO ME BY A FRIEND .I AM ROWLAND BROWNS SECOND GRANDCHILD BY DAPHNE H BROWNE WHICH MY OLDER BROTHER ADDED THE E IN THE 80’S. I MET DAPHNE RIGHT BEFORE MY ADOPTED MOM PASSED AWAY IT IS GREAT TO HEAR MY GRANDFATHER WAS A GOOD GUY NOW I KNOW WHERE I GET IT . SINCE IT MISSED DAPHNE ALL TOGETHER THANKS.

  9. Adam on July 6, 2015 at 2:14 am

    Thanks for this. Rowland Brown was my great grandfather. My grandfather, his oldest son named after his father passed away a little over a year ago. He himself, had an inspiring and adventurous life that certainly rivaled his father’s who he never really knew. That resilience, impetuousness, and tangible disdain for injustice really seems to run through the family.

    • Steve Hodel on July 6, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Hi Adam:

      It was my true honor to know your great grandfather, Rowland Brown growing up in Hollywood and then our move out to the desert in Palm Springs, which was just a tubmleweed town back then in the early 1950s. My brothers and I became good friends with Steve Brown, who was about our same age then. Yes, Rowland was definitely a man who sought out “Justice” and hated abuse of power. Special place in my heart for him. Regards, Steve

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