27 July 2008

His First Name was Actually William

I was going to post about the great film actor Claude Rains. Rains appeared in some of my favorite films of all time. He was the corrupt but guilt ridden senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). In Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) Rains was the German businessman and secret Nazi beguiled by Ingrid Bergman. His Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) was the archetypical nobleman villain.

Rains is perhaps best remembered as Bogie’s pal Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942) and he was opposite Bette Davis in two notable films, Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Now, Voyager (1942). One of Rains’ best performances was his first film role (excepting a solitary silent screen experience 13 years prior) when he went unseen as the title character of James Whale’s highly underrated horror classic, The invisible Man (1933). His brilliant scientist turned murderous maniac today comes off just this side of camp. Whether scary or silly its an acting tour de force.

Rains also appeared in notable films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and many from the early ’40’s such as The Wolf Man (1941, Kings Row (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944), Here Come Mr. Jordan (1941) and The Sea Hawk (1940).
Rains could be French, Spanish, German, American or even, as he was born, English. He played cops, ship captains, senators, Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar. Rains was rarely the star in any movie but was never a bit player either. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in some of his signature roles such as the opportunistic Renault, or the villainous Do Jose Alvarez De Corboda in The Sea Hawk.

Besides Bogart, Bergman and Davis he played opposite Cary Grant, Robert Montgomery, Errol Flynn, James Stewart, Ann Sheridan (lucky!), Oliva de Havilland and Bela Lugosi -- to name a few.

Okay I started out saying “I was going to post” about Rains and it would seem I did but there’s so much more that could be said. Consider this to have been a preamble to your enjoyment of this my space site that I came across. http://www.myspace.com/clauderainsfan
Films starring Claude Rains will be featured on TCM Tuesday August 5 as part of their annual Summer Under The Stars.

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