The Golden Age of Hollywood

I didnt see a thread here talking about the great character actors so I thought, hey lets see if i can get one going!

One of the great things about Old Hollywood and the "Studio System" was that each studio had their roster of ever-reliable workhorse character actors...we see these same faces popping up in film after film after film, sometimes they play a variety of character types, sometimes they seem to play the same person in every film, but regardless they always make me smile and many of them were formidable talents who most definitely kept the leading players on their toes!

Some were what i call crossover actors in that sometimes they had lead parts, other times they played character roles (Claude Rains, Joan Blondell anyone?) while others seemed to make a career out of mostly unbilled bit parts (i.e. the immortal Charles Lang!)

I'll start with one of my all-time fave WB character guys: Mr Robert Barrat!

Tall, physically imposing and forceful, Mr Barrat appears in almost 90 films in just the decade of the 1930's alone! Some being substantial roles in A pictures too, such as "The Life of Emile Zola" (1937)..but usually he had small character parts, quite often a heavy, which is something he excelled at like few others! I'm sure even those of you that arent familiar with his name might recognize his face :)

One of Mr Barrat's most unforgettable roles is in the film "Mountain Justice" (1937) starring Josephine Hutchinson and George Brent and Directed by Michael Curtiz...Mr Barrat plays Hutchinson's mentally and physically abusive religious zealot backwoods hillbilly father with such intensity and conviction he is just downright scary!

He is also quite memorable as a loud mouthed communist turned raging capitalist in William Wellman's excellent "Heroes for Sale" (1933) with Richard Barthelmess and Loretta Young, as a mentally deranged strongman obsessed with Ruth Chatterton in Wellman's "Lily Turner" (1933), and as the disgusting low-life father to Barbara Stanwyck in the classic pre-code scorcher "Babyface" (1933 again, lol). 

I attached a scan of a vintage promotional still i have of Mr Barrat from "Mountain Justice" and below it is a very nice vintage autograph album page signed by him sometime in the mid 1930's that i acquired very recently!

OK so lets hear who your fave character actors and actresses are! I am hoping to learn something as i am not very well-versed in character players from studios besides WB!



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He was in so many things.  A very busy actor.

yes! lol what a team they made! thats such an oddball series of films! i mean the first one is pretty heavy handed and serious and by the last one William was a slap happy womanizing drunk, a very ODD interpretation of Mason to say the least, lol! 

the last 2 def were screwy, lol! i love his rat-a-tat rapport with Genevieve Tobin in the Lucky Legs one, she was always great! ever see "Goodbye-Again" with William, Tobin and Joan Blondell? what a wacky picture that one is, with some heavy pre-code debauchery, lol! 

i cant believe it but i actually found someone with more screen credits than Charles Lane! venerable character player Addison Richards...with a whopping 398 credits from 1933 to 1964...that's right only about a 30 year period...UNREAL! in 1940 alone he appeared in 25 films and in 1942....he appeared in 30! and 100 credits from 33 to the end of 39! I'm sure every one of us here has seen this man in some film or other. i counted over 40 i have seen him in over the years!

Great character actress - Estelle Winwood.

I watched The Glass Slipper and she was cast in "the fairy godmother" role with a difference.  She was so great in the role.  It was a great movie.  She was a very accomplished stage actress before she began in movies, in her 50's.  I knew I'd seen her before.  She was Enchantra, one of Endora's sisters, in an episode of Bewitched (Season 3, Episode 3).

Unfortunately, whoever put this clip together removed the best line in the scene.  The old lady's take on fashion.

And Endora's other sister, another great character in TV series and the movies, Reta Shaw.

Seen her in many things over the years.  She's great.

i certainly recognize her! Agnes Moorehead was no slouch in the character actress dept either!

Yes, you're absolutely right. I really want to see her in The Magnificent Amberson and other movies from around that time.


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