William Scott Elam, known as Jack Elam (November 13, 1920 – October 20, 2003), was an American film and television actor best known for his numerous roles as villains in and, later in his career, comedies (sometimes spoofing his villainous image). His most distinguishing physical quality was the iris of his left eye, which was skewed to the outside, making him look unnaturally wall-eyed (the opposite of cross-eyed). Before his career in acting, he took several jobs in finance and served two years in the during .
Anytime I have the opportunity to see Henry Silva, Jack Elam and Slim Pickens under the direction of Edward G. Robinson tormenting Dick Van Dyke is what I like to call “time well spent”.
One Way Street (1950) was a noir vehicle made by the future director of Dracula vs. Frankenstein2 (1970) and starring noir genre regulars Bill Conrad (, Sorry Wrong Number, The Racket) and Dan Duryea ( , The Underworld Story). Once again Jack Elam's bit part failed to garner a mention in the credits. The amount of film scholarship devoted to Elam is slight, but the writings that do exist peg him almost exclusively as a cowboy actor. Examining his early career, however, demonstrates that he was just as much a film-noir staple as anything else.
Complicating things for Dick is the presence of Dorothy Provine, an innocent bystander who becomes aware of the gang’s plot. She is subsequently marked for death. Top that off with the arrival of the real killer that Dick has been mistaken for. None other than Mr. Jack Elam.