There was always something about Oates that reminded me of Bogart. But Warren Oates was his own actor with his own rugged style.
Not long ago I watched him co-star along side Vic Morrow in an old Combat episode. It was just good seeing him again. He's been in countless old Western television shows. Though he got his start on television, his talent was always bigger than the small screen.
Warren really shinned in Sam Peckinpah films. Oates was a character actor who only had four leading roles, thanks to Peckinpah. I wish that Warren had been utilized more as the leading man. He was an incredible talent.
Peckinpah made great movies with Oates. I wonder what John Ford would have done with this incredible character actor. I think of Oates, and I am reminded of the Ford's regulars. I think Warren would have worked well among the likes of John Wayne, Victor McLaughlin, Ward Bond, et all. I can imagine a place for Warren Oates in Fort Apache. Like Warren's close relationship with Peckinpah, I get the feeling Ford would have taken a liking to Warren as well.
Warren could have played so much more if given the opportunity for other types of leading roles. I believe he would have if he had lived longer. Up front I mentioned that Oates had some Bogart qualities. I don't know of any actors that could take on Humphrey Bogart kind of roles. I can picture Oates as Duke Mantee in Petrified Forest or Charlie Allnut in The African Queen. Oates could fill those shoes as well as so many other great actor's shoes, he was just that good.
I am sorry he is gone, because he could have shown us more. I believe he was more versatile than what we saw of him in his short lifespan. Even so, he is still remembered by many and regarded as one of the best.