Friday, August 28, 2009

Claude Rains: Reflections in Dark and Light

Is anyone else interested in Claude Rains as the Star of the Month in September on TCM? Perhaps this is a good time to introduce him to younger viewers who haven't had a chance to see him in all his glory.

I'm delighted that they have featured Rains, since the four time Oscar nominee is always an entertaining actor to me, with elements of dark and light in each of his roles, not to mention one of the most beautiful speaking voices, even though he started life as a Cockney lad with a speech impediment. Working under his mentor, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, he cultivated his speech to become an actor, becoming a favorite of George Bernard Shaw. The furry quality of his voice was brought on by his exposure to gas in WWI. Whether raising an eyebrow, being "shocked, shocked" to discover gambling going on, or simply lending his great presence to fine and not so fine movies, he never failed to entertain and make even conflicted men understandable.

I've been a member of discussion groups devoted to Claude Rains, read both John Soister's bio-bibliography of the actor, Claude Rains: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference, and the recent bio Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice by David Skal and Jessica Rains (the actor's daughter), but the man and the actor remains somewhat unknowable. That's okay, I suppose, because a viewer learns just about everything about various aspects of his interpretation human nature from watching his beautifully crafted performances. While I've written at length about Claude Rains before, I'll be posting reflections on Claude throughout the month, along with videos and pictures. I hope that you'll add your own thoughts on this actor.

You can see a complete list of the Claude Rains lineup for September below. (All times are EDT)

If there was only one relatively obscure movie being shown this month to others, I'd recommend, it would have to be Daughters Courageous (1939) in which he plays a scalawag with wanderlust who is married to Fay Bainter (his accomplished co-star in this well acted Edmund Goulding film, White Banners, for which she was nominated for an Oscar). Rains also shows great rapport in Daughters Courageous with Group Theater-trained John Garfield, and the unlikely pair worked well together in six films.

There are also some moments when an aged Rains, who plays a failure in the flawed film,The White Tower, raises the level of the film to near tragic proportions. I find him to be particularly poignant in his last scenes on the mountaintop. Too bad the rest of the movie wasn't as good as he was here.

Btw, if I had to mention a Claude movie to avoid on the schedule, it would probably be Sealed Cargo, a muddled movie that was D.O.A., despite Rains and Dana Andrews' participation, (neither man looks well in this turgid movie and both seem at a very low ebb).

I hope someday that TCM will have a chance to show The Invisible Man (1933), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) , The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934), Crime Without Passion (1934) and The Clairvoyant (1934). They have shown The Invisible Man and The Clairvoyant before, but I don't believe any of the other early rarities have been broadcast before. I would also like to have seen Saturday's Children (1940) and White Banners (1938) on the schedule. He is superb in both these films. Rope of Sand (1949) would be an intriguing addition to the schedule too. As I recall, Rains' arched eyebrow and elegant duplicity raise the level of the latter movie, which is a pretty good Burt Lancaster-goes-to-Africa film. Someday I hope to see Strange Holiday (1945), an Arch Oboler movie I've heard much about, but which seems lost on a shelf somewhere.

Claude Rains Schedule on TCM in September


September 2, 2009

8:00 PM
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption. Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains. Dir: Frank Capra. BW-130 mins, TV-G, CC

10:15 PM
Casablanca (1942)
An American saloon owner in North Africa is drawn into World War II when his lost love turns up. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-103 mins, TV-PG, CC, DVS

12:15 AM
Mr. Skeffington (1944)
A flighty beauty marries a stockbroker for convenience and almost ruins both their lives. Cast: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel. Dir: Vincent Sherman. BW-146 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

2:45 AM
Notorious (1946)
A U.S. agent recruits a German expatriate to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring in Brazil. Cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. BW-101 mins, TV-PG, CC

4:30 AM
Four Daughters (1938)
A small-town family's peaceful life is shattered when one daughter falls for a rebellious musician. Cast: Claude Rains, John Garfield, Priscilla Lane. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-90 mins, TV-G, CC

6:15 AM
Daughters Courageous (1939)
A father returns to the family he left years earlier and tries to solve their problems. Cast: Claude Rains, John Garfield, Priscilla Lane. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-107 mins, TV-G, CC

8:15 AM
Four Wives (1939)
Three married women play matchmaker for their widowed sister. Cast: Claude Rains, Priscilla Lane, Rosemary Lane. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-99 mins, TV-G, CC

September 9

8:00 PM
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
A prizefighter who died before his time is reincarnated as a tycoon with a murderous wife. Cast: Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains. Dir: Alexander Hall. BW-94 mins, TV-G, CC

9:45 PM
Angel On My Shoulder (1946)
The Devil sends a murdered gangster to Earth as a respected judge. Cast: Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, Claude Rains. Dir: Archie Mayo. BW-101 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:30 PM
Now, Voyager (1942)
A repressed spinster is transformed by psychiatry and her love for a married man. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains. Dir: Irving Rapper. BW-118 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

1:30 AM
Deception (1946)
A woman tries to protect her refugee husband from her rich and powerful ex-lover. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains. Dir: Irving Rapper. BW-112 mins, TV-PG, CC

3:30 AM
Kings Row (1942)
Small town scandals inspire an idealistic young man to take up psychiatry. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan. Dir: Sam Wood. BW-127 mins, TV-PG, CC, DVS

September 16

8:00 PM
Passage to Marseilles (1944)
Devil's Island escapees join up with the Allies during World War II. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Michele Morgan. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-109 mins, TV-PG, CC

10:00 PM
Sealed Cargo (1951)
A fisherman tangles with Nazi smugglers off the Canadian coast. Cast: Dana Andrews, Carla Balenda, Claude Rains. Dir: Alfred Werker. BW-89 mins, TV-G, CC

11:45 PM
Juarez (1939)
True story of Mexico's Abraham Lincoln and his fight against Napoleon's empire. Cast: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne. Dir: William Dieterle. BW-121 mins, TV-G, CC

2:00 AM
Caesar And Cleopatra (1945)
Julius Caesar gives the famed Egyptian queen lessons in government. Cast: Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh, Stewart Granger. Dir: Gabriel Pascal. C-128 mins, TV-G

4:30 AM
Anthony Adverse (1936)
An orphan runs off to a life of adventure, then returns to France in search of the girl he left behind. Cast: Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains. Dir: Mervyn LeRoy. BW-141 mins, TV-G, CC

7:00 AM
Hearts Divided (1936)
Napoleon's younger brother falls for a girl from Baltimore. Cast: Marion Davies, Dick Powell, Claude Rains. Dir: Frank Borzage. BW-76 mins, TV-G, CC

8:30 AM
Stolen Holiday (1937)
A Paris fashion model marries a fortune hunter to protect him from the law. Cast: Claude Rains, Kay Francis, Ian Hunter. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-80 mins, TV-G, CC

10:00 AM
Lady With Red Hair (1940)
An actress hopes to regain her lost son by making it to the top. Cast: Miriam Hopkins, Claude Rains, Richard Ainley. Dir: Curtis Bernhardt. BW-78 mins, TV-G, CC

September 23

8:00 PM
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
The bandit king of Sherwood Forest leads his Merry Men in a battle against the corrupt Prince John. Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone. Dir: William Keighley, Michael Curtiz. C-102 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

10:00 PM
The Sea Hawk (1940)
A British buccaneer holds the Spanish fleet at bay with the covert approval of Elizabeth I. Cast: Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Flora Robson. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-128 mins, TV-G, CC

12:15 AM
The Prince And The Pauper (1937)
Rousing adaptation of the Mark Twain tale of a 16th-century prince who trades places with a lookalike peasant. Cast: Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Billy and Bobby Mauch. Dir: William Keighley. BW-118 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

2:30 AM
The White Tower (1950)
Mountain climbers in the Swiss Alps mull over past problems while trying to conquer a perilous peak. Cast: Glenn Ford, Alida Valli, Lloyd Bridges. Dir: Ted Tetzlaff. C-98 mins, TV-G

4:15 AM
Gold Is Where You Find It (1938)
A gold strike in California triggers a bitter feud between farmers and prospectors. Cast: George Brent, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains. Dir: Michael Curtiz. C-94 mins, TV-G, CC

6:00 AM
The Passionate Friends (1949)
A married woman has one last fling with her childhood sweetheart. Cast: Ann Todd, Claude Rains, Trevor Howard. Dir: David Lean. BW-91 mins, TV-PG

September 30

8:00 PM
They Won't Forget (1937)
Bigotry flares when a Jewish businessman is accused of killing a small-town girl in the South. Cast: Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Allyn Joslyn. Dir: Mervyn LeRoy. BW-95 mins, TV-G, CC

10:00 PM
Twilight Of Honor (1963)
A struggling lawyer takes on a controversial murder case that could make or break him. Cast: Richard Chamberlain, Claude Rains, Nick Adams. Dir: Boris Sagal. BW-104 mins, TV-PG, Letterbox Format

12:00 AM
They Made Me A Criminal (1939)
A young boxer flees to farming country when he thinks he's killed an opponent in the ring. Cast: John Garfield, Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson. Dir: Busby Berkeley. BW-92 mins, TV-PG, CC

1:45 AM
The Unsuspected (1947)
The producer of a radio crime series commits the perfect crime, then has to put the case on the air. Cast: Claude Rains, Joan Caulfield, Constance Bennett. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-103 mins, TV-PG, CC

3:30 AM
Where Danger Lives (1950)
A psychopath draws her doctor into her murderous schemes. Cast: Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue, Claude Rains. Dir: John Farrow. BW-80 mins, TV-PG, CC

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