Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday: Claude Rains!

Claude Rains (10 November 1889 – 30 May 1967), his career spanned over 47 years. Rains came relatively late to film acting, his distinctive voice won him the title role in, The Invisible Man (1933). Rains later credited director Michael Curtiz with teaching him, "what not to do in front of a camera".

Following The Invisible Man, Universal Studios tried to typecast him in horror films, but he broke free, starting with the role of Prince John in, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), then with his Academy Award-nominated performance as a corrupt senator in, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and followed with probably his most famous role, the  French police Captain Renault in, Casablanca (1942).

Rains went on to perform in, Phantom of the Opera(1943). Bette Davis named him her favorite co-star, and they made four films together: Mr. Skeffington and Now, Voyager.

Next Rains, performed as, Julius Caesar in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He also played a refugee Nazi agent opposite Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in, Notorious (1946). He then performed in, The Passionate Friends(1949).

Rains remained a popular character actor in the 1950s and 1960 and performed in many films. Two of his well-known later screen roles were as Dryden, a cynical British diplomat in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and King Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), his final film role.

TCM is celebrating Claude Rains birthday with the films listed below:

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.

Adventures of Robin Hood, The (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.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) .An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption. Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains. Dir: Frank Capra.

Saturday's Children (1940) .A young inventor's new marriage is jeopardized by financial problems. Cast: John Garfield, Claude Rains, Anne Shirley. Dir: Vincent Sherman. 

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.

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.

Passage to Marseille (1944) . Devil's Island escapees join up with the Allies during World War II. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Michele Morgan. Dir: Michael Curtiz.


  1. There was never a better character actor than Claude Rains. It's hard to pick favorites from among his many great performances. But here are two: In NOTORIOUS he plays the chief villain, but one beset by the mother from hell and a gorgeous wife/spy who doesn't love him. Rains manages to elicit our sympathy for this murderous Nazi. And, of course, there's Capt. Renault in CASABLANCA...another ambiguous character - he caters to the Nazis and isn't above an underhanded seduction or two...but he's also a roguish charmer and, in the end, heroic. Ahhhh, Claude Rains...

  2. Ladyeve, I agree.. Claude Rains, is also one of my favorite character actors. I was able to catch a a couple of his films that I have not seen before: They Won't Forget and Saturday's Children. The later was my favorite of the two. Mostly because of the actors. If I had to pick only one Claude Rains favorite film, it would have to be, Mr. Skeffington. I will never forget the ending.

  3. Dawn...I remember watching the Bette Davis interviews on Dick Cavett (re-aired on TCM every so often) - and she said she always imagined that, in Now, Voyager, Charlotte would eventually have gotten over Jerry and married Dr. Jackwith. I wish that film had been made! I can't pick an absolute favorite Claude Rains film, but Mr. Skeffington is one of them.

  4. Claude Rains is one of my all-time favorites - although he was very popular, I'm still not sure he received all the credit he deserved while he was still alive. Not what you'd consider a handsome man, he still had charm to spare - and what an expressive face! He could do this thing with his eyebrows that could take the place of a dozen lines of dialogue!

  5. I can't imagine why people think The Divine Claude was not attractive. Oh baby... "Deception".


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