Complex though they may have been, these characters were nonetheless cast in adversarial postures to many of the leading players of the day: menacing Gary Cooper in The Plainsman; threatening Edward G. Robinson in Larceny, Inc.; cracking a whip at Dorothy Lamour in Road to Singapore.


men. Ten years earlier, he might have inherited the mantle of Valentino. But the moment of the Latin lover had waned, and his dark, forceful presence consigned Quinn to the supporting roles then classified as “exotics”—ethnic characters, usually villains. He played not only Mexicans—his own heritage—but an endless gallery of Native Americans, Spaniards, Cubans, Chinese, Filipinos, Frenchmen, Arabs, Hawaiians, Greeks, and more gangsters and spies than an FBI agent sees in a lifetime.

Even in the stereotyped film universe of virtuous cowboys and barbarous Indians, Quinn brought a dignity, candor, and depth to his Native American characters that have made most of them wear better than many of the cowboy counterparts who vanquished them. No flaring nostrils, no noble poses: Quinn brought an emotional honesty to his exotics that made them, if not less stereotypical, more authentic.


Anthony Quinn in Guns for San Sebastian, 1968