What is Charles Laughton famous for?

Charles Laughton

His mischievous and gentle doggy look is proverbial, and his ugliness lies in profile: Charles Laughton. "He's a terribly fat old boy," says Hollywood gossip columnist Else Maxwell when she comes home from a Hollywood party at which she was introduced to Charles Laughton. The actor looked like Falstaff in tails, she said. As early as 1926, Charles Laughton impressed Hollywood director Cecil B. De Mille when he saw him on stage in the role of Gogol's "Auditor". Years later, he remembers him and makes him a Hollywood star.

The hotelier's son, born in Great Britain, is a room waiter at the Claridge Hotel in London, and later the hotel's receptionist. In 1917/18 he took part in World War I and was critically injured by German gas attacks. Then you can see his real talent, in 1919 he goes to the stage as an amateur actor, but continues to work at his parents' hotel. In 1925/26 he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and in 1926 he made his professional stage debut. In 1928 he worked on short films that H. G. Wells wrote for Elsa Lanchester. A year later, Elsa becomes his wife - and will remain so until his death - regardless of Laughton's homosexual tendencies.

In E. A. Dupont's last silent film "Piccadilly" (1929), Laughton made his screen debut as a nagging restaurant guest. When De Mille sees the talented actor on stage on a new visit to London, he signs him for Paramount and casts him as Emperor Nero in the historical film "Under the Sign of the Cross". That is 1932, in the same year he appeared on Broadway for the first time. From now on he plays alternately at London's Old Vic and Broadway. 1933 Laughton is the British King Henry VIII with Alexander Korda in "The Private Life of Henry VIII." He received an Oscar for the role. In 1934 you see him under the direction of the versatile director Leo McCarey in "A Butler in America". This is followed by one of his most brilliant roles, directed by Frank Lloyd, alongside Clark Gable in the classic "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935).

Captain Bligh (Laughton) is considered a bad flayer. He knows that the only way to keep his crew in check is to be extremely vigilant; Nevertheless, there were disputes on the arduous sea voyage from Plymouth to Tahiti. Bligh sadistically whips people and sells travel provisions. The uprising is fermenting until Tahiti, but nothing happens; only when the mad captain puts his people under pressure on their return journey does the mutiny break out. In contrast to the remake of the famous novel by Nordhoff & Hall, staged decades later by Lewis Milestone with great technical effort, the director and his outstanding actors have succeeded in creating a haunting black and white film (camera: Arthur Edeson) of unlikely severity.

Laughton is a star now. He plays the beggar and the millionaire, the king and tramp, artist, pirate or idiot house fathers as in David Lean's "Lord of the House I Am" (1954). This lovable house tyrant brings Laughton the Berlin Bear as the best actor. In 1936 he was a wonderful "Rembrandt" for Alexander Korda, in the same year Josef von Sternberg made the unfinished film "I, Claudius". In 1937 Laughton founded Mayflower Pictures together with Erich Pommer. He takes on the leading role in three productions, for example as a drunken useless - at the side of his wife - in "Vessel of Wrath", in "St. Martins Lane" and in Alfred Hitchcock "Reef pirates" (1939).

The last English production of the horror master is actually not a real "Hitchcock film": Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, it tells a story that takes place towards the end of the 18th century. All sorts of terrible things happen in a mysterious hostel where beach robbers live; but the leader of the gang is widely regarded as an honorable man. It is the Justice of the Peace played by Charles Laughton. Hitchcock had to upgrade this role for the film's producer - Laughton - and wasn't happy with the result.

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame", Directed by William Dieterle in 1939, gives Laughton another great opportunity as a character type. There is no doubt that the often filmed, socially critical horror novel Victor Hugos becomes an idiosyncratic film through William Dieterle's direction and Laughton's acting as Quasimodo In late medieval Paris, the pretty gypsy Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara), who is persecuted as a witch, finds understanding and refuge in the hunchbacked Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame.

In 1941 Henry Koster's "Die Ewige Eva" was created with Laughton, in 1944 he played in the thriller "Unter Verdacht", directed by Robert Siodmak. "The Canterville Ghost"(1944), directed by Jules Dassin, is another great challenge for Charles Laughton. Director Jules Dassin and screenwriter Edwin Harvey Blum put Oscar Wilde's story into the Second World War: Sir Simon de Canterville's cruel father had the in 1934 had the poor, fearful offspring walled up in the castle because he behaved pacifistically and escaped a lance duel. In addition, lower instincts drive the inhuman father to curse his son. For example, the unfortunate Simon is now 310 years old and worried that one of his descendants will do a brave deed and releases it for the cool family crypt. But from century to century the chances are getting smaller and smaller. One day one of the clans really shows up as an American GI in the castle and, after some difficulties, relieves poor Simon from the torments of the weekly hauntings.

Jules Dassin filmed this quirky ghost saga with a fast camera and the excellent Laughton, a wonderful travesty on the old ghost stories from back then. 1947 Laughton plays in Alfred Hitchcocks "The Paradin case"and in Lewis Mileston's" Arch of Triumph ", 1948 in John Farrows"Play with deathLaughton plays the lovable vagabond, who is endowed with all the magic of his art of representation, in "Five Pearls" in the episode "The vagabond and justice" based on O Henry's short story.

William Dieterle directs "Salome" in 1953 with Laughton, Rita Hayworth, Stewart Granger and Judith Anderson. Among all the film adaptations of the Bible that were so popular in the 1950s and which, by the way, mostly featured outstanding actors, Dieterle's "Salome" is a particularly curious case: the story of the infamous Herod's daughter who tries in vain to dance with her veil To save noble John the Baptist is photographed in fascinating color photography, but despite the important actors it is partly interpreted like peasant theater and presented in an epic mixture of fairy tales and melodrama.

"The Heir apparent" (1953) by George Sidney is a colorful costume film with stars like Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr. Charles Laugton is Henry VIII once again, Jean Simmons is little Bess, the king's darling, but who is exiled as the daughter of the unfortunate Ann Boleyn, who was executed at the king's behest. When the handsome Thomas Seymour (Granger) brings her back, Bess falls in love with him. But after the death of her father, Bess encourages her beloved stepmother Catherine Parr (Kerr) to marry her Thomas. For an affair with Bess, the latter then loses his beautiful head, and Bess becomes Queen Elizabeth I. Despite sentimentality, this is a beautiful set cinema.

Laughton has often expressed directorial intentions in the film. Then he directed his first and only feature film in 1955: "The hunter's night"with Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. A psychopathic preacher, jailed for a minor offense, tries to squeeze a considerable amount of loot out of the murderer and death row inmate Ben Harper. After the delinquent's death, Harry sneaks into the trust of the widow , she marries but can't solve the mystery. A ten-year-old boy's suspicions spark a bloody drama. Laughton has only directed that one movie, but has shown a sure hand for subtle horror.

Two years later, "Prosecution witness"by Billy Wilder. The main roles in this bizarre and ironic crime story play alongside Laughton as an old, sick criminal defense attorney, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and Elsa Lanchester. Laughton is - when it comes down to it - pretty angry, threatening and persistent. Billy Wilder enters intelligent thinking game and lets you guess, fear and draw wrong conclusions, until the novel story of Agatha Christie finds its amazing solution.

"Spartacus"(1959) by Stanley Kubrick shows the character star alongside Kirk Douglas, Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons. Despite the adverse circumstances during the making, this is one of the best monumental films in the history of modern cinema.

In 1961, shortly before his death from cancer, Laughton played his last film role as a Senator with McCarthy opinions in Otto Preminger's "Storm over Washington". In the last few years of his life he has appeared on television a few times.

Other films with Charles Laughton: "Frankie And Johnnie", "Day-Dreams", "Bluebottles" (all 1928), "Comets" (1929), "Wolves" (1930), "Down River", "Die Frau im U -Boot "(both 1931)," The House of Horror "," Deferred Payment "," If I Had a Million "," Island Of The Lost Souls "(all 1932)," White Woman "(1933)," The Barretts Of Wimpole Street "(1934)," Die Elenden "(1935)," They Knew What They Wanted "(1940)," Stand By For Action "," Six Fates "," The Tuttles Of Tahiti "(all 1942), "This Land is Mine", "The Man From Down Under", "Forever and Three Days" (all 1943), "" Under Black Flag "(1945)," Because Of Him "(1946)," The Girl From Manhattan "," On Our Merry Way "(both 1948),"Carlotta secret operation"," The Man from the Eiffel Tower "(both 1949)," A Mother's Heart "," The Strange Door "(both 1951)," Abbott and Costello as unwilling pirates "(1952) and" Under ten flags "(1960 ).