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Robinson made after he parted ways with Warner Bros.
were film noirs: persecuted by red-baiters, alienated from the film community, and fated to a terribly unhappy home, Robinson’s personal life had taken on the dimensions of a real-life film noir.
He didn’t fit the mold of the typical Hollywood leading man, so it was important to him that he be accepted and liked — even admired.
He failed to anticipate problems, and then ignored them, hoping that they would simply go away.
He suffered from imperfections that led him to make foolish decisions that resulted in tremendous personal grief: He was naïve, incautious, and overly trusting.
He cared — perhaps too much — about his image and what people thought of him.
When the anti-Semitism that beset Romania at the time struck close to home, his father knew it was time to get out.
Robinson was born Emmanuel Goldenberg (hence the ‘G’) in 1893 in Bucharest.Theirs is the quintessential story: unable to afford passage for all at once, they saved their pennies and sent one family member at a time.He was living an ordeal often worse than those of the men he portrayed on screen.And regardless of what anyone would consider an avalanche of bad luck, Robinson himself was partly to blame.
Yet if these qualities hurt him personally, they benefitted him greatly in his craft.
Fritz Lang understood him well: “Each part he plays he enriches with deep and warm understanding of human frailties and compels us to pity rather than condemnation, always adding vivid color to the intricate mosaic of motion picture reality.” Even when he broke into the movies playing gangster parts, audiences were always able to sense the weakness and fear lurking just beneath the surface sheen of cartoonish bravado; as he branched off into other kinds of roles, he imbued his characters with aspects of his own personality that gave them a depth and subtlety surprising for the era.