Phillip Reed

Shining the spotlight on a face you are certain to have seen often, but might not know much about

No matter how many movies I see him in, and I’ve seen him in a lot, Phillip Reed (links to IMDB) will always be to me the poor sap in Female, one of many men that Pre-code powerful and rather cold corporate man-eater, auto company CEO Ruth Chatterton uses and tosses aside. Perhaps he should’ve been flattered, because she sends him much further than the usual place of her boy toy banishment, Montreal. No, once Reed gets too clingy and too poetic, his ticket is stamped French motherland/ Paris. The actor was born Milton LeRoy Treinis in New York city, and sometimes credited in movies as “Philip” with one ‘L’, Reed, made nearly 100 appearances in TV and movies – Female was just his second.

Best described as tall dark and handsome, when Reed was all polished, slicked-back and tuxedoed, he bore more than a slight resemblance to young Tyrone Power. As a society swell or playboy, he was charming, a touch devilish, earnest and attentive in affections with a knowing sparkle in his eye, and when mustachioed had a touch of Flynn, even. He could also be convincingly conniving overbearing, threatening and slimy, and somewhat typically for such dark and “swarthy” actors, Reed was also often and throughout his career cast as ethnics and various races. One especially memorable role in this vein was his substantial and sympathetic turn as Uncas in the 1936 version of Last of the Mohicans with Randolph Scott. Before the war he was also with Mae West in Klondike Annie, got a lot of coverage, journalistically speaking, for the lack of coverage he displayed in Aloma of the South Seas, with Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall, and played the ill-fated Jean in the Gladys George/ Warren William version of Madame X.

Mae West

After serving over a year in the Air Force, he returned to a load of work and was often described in articles as one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, moving up in the credit heirarchy to being third and fourth billed or higher.  One news piece described how, determined to do his own stunts he suffered some serious bull whip burns while filming Song of Scheherazade in 1946; thankfully, that handsome face was spared. Through the Forties he had some fun juicy roles, as in the comedy Weekend for Three where he plays the obnoxious houseguest of Jane Wyatt and Dennis O’Keefe, and another playboy in Old Acquaintance. 

Reed, Phillip #1

A leading and recurring role came when he played Steve Wilson, determined and truth seeking newspaper editor, in a series of four Big Town movies, based on the radio series (and Reed also did Song of the Thin Man smack in between) In Unknown Island he had a leading role as adventurer on expedition to a remote place populated by dinosaurs, where he loses his girl Virginia Grey on account of his obsession with the prehistoric creatures. Reed closed out the Forties with a couple of noirs: Manhandled and an incredibly meaty (yes I went there) role with Lawrence Tierney in Bodyguard.

Reed had some interesting connections to Maureen O’Hara—Reed was in My Irish Molly, one of O’Hara’s very first movies, when she was still credited as Maureen Fitzsimmons. The next time they worked together in Tripoli (where Reed played an Egyptian) the director was Maureen’s then-husband Will Price. When in 1953 O’Hara and Price were going through a divorce, gossip was generated when Price named Reed as a reason for the breakup of the marriage.

Things slowed down for Reed filmwise into the 1950s when he did only half a dozen films, including the role of publisher Robert Collier in the Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, but he was sure busy on TV, appearingon Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Hour, The Millionaire, many playhouse and anthology type shows. As he aged and his hair turned gray he took on a distinguished look suited to authority figures. It was an admirable if never stardom-generating three decade career that spanned all kinds of genres, types and roles, from a pre-code victim of gender role reversal in the 1930s to an Elvis movie (even if it was Harum Scarum) in 1965. Reed died in 1996 aged 88, his obit mentioned a wife, Audrey, but apparently no children.

Philip Reed and Ruth Chatterton
Philip Reed and Ruth Chatterton

a little on him here

Cliff has him on a chocolate card here

thoughts/ opinions/ info to add on Mr. Reed?


9 thoughts on “Phillip Reed”

  1. Your timing is amazing, I’ve been doing a little research of Paramount B’s & titles available from Alpha/Oldies, and I thought “Who is Phillip Reed and why is he starring in these movies?” LOL. Now I know! And realize I’ve seen him in more films than I thought (like FEMALE!). Interesting bit about Maureen O’Hara, too.

    Thank you!!

    Best wishes,

    1. awesome! glad I could help even a little, and that’s exactly why I want to do these… everytime I watch a movie there’s someone I look up and find nothing about, so THOSE will be a bigger challenge but a fun one for sure!
      thanks Laura!

  2. BTW, as I poked around for info on the Pine-Thomas unit at Paramount, I realized not only did Nancy Kelly marry cinematographer Fred Jackman Jr., but Jean Parker eventually married Robert Lowery who was in some of the films. Quite a cozy little group. Any idea how those movies fell into public domain? Wondered if Paramount was just the distributor or something like that.

    Will have to check out some of the Reed “B” titles!

    Best wishes,

    1. Laura, i knew the part about Jean Parker & Robert Lowery being married, but none of the other stuff. Maybe someone reading this might have something to add? look forward to hearing your opinion on any more Reed movies you happen to check out.. those Big Town movies look fun

    1. Thank you Karen, for stopping by to read!
      see what I did with the “meaty” joke on Bodyguard, huh? huh? wink wink nudge nudge…
      Haven’t noticed any discernible difference between the looks of PhiLip and PhiLLip, but get back to me if you spot any 😉

  3. Just watched Phillip Reed with Bette Davis in “The Girl from 10th Avenue,” where he is super-charming. Diana Barrymore mentions him in her autobiography “Too Much, Too Soon” as an actor her father, John Barrymore, tried to fix her up with. But Diana was already involved with another hard-working stage and film actor, Bramwell Fletcher, who became her first husband.

    1. That’s interesting, I’m not surprised since as you said he was really charming. one of the many Hollywood people you wonder why didn’t get to be bigger stars, since he made a good screen pairing with lots of actresses. Thanks

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