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Via Media

Weird things to hear a 14-year old girl say in 2006

(While watching TV)

1b (Exclaims in delight) John Garfield!

(a minute later)

(Puzzled) How old was Claude Rains in 1940, anyway?

(FYI, last year, TMC came to our mall doing a Saturday afternoon of promotions, which featured trivia contests. Katie won stuff.)

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Donald R. McClarey

posted July 16, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Ah the great Claude Rains, the most underestimated actor of his generation! He never gave a bad performance, from large roles such as Prince John in Robin Hood to small roles such as the British diplomat in Lawrence of Arabia. He gave each of his roles an effortless grace that belied his hard work and craftsmanship. It is good to see a youngster have an interest in him, even just for trivia purposes.

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michael hugo

posted July 17, 2006 at 12:51 am

I saw “Saturday’s Children” on TCM today. Raines dominates a scene before he says or does anything. He really was a great actor.

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posted July 17, 2006 at 7:27 am

I always thought that Claude Rains seemed to enjoy acting. He did it with such zest, and seemed to want you to enjoy it, too.

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Donald R. McClarey

posted July 17, 2006 at 8:16 am

One of the many great roles that Mr. Rains played was in one of my favorite films, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Misunderstood as an example of Capra corn, the film is actually a heartfelt cry against how political corruption betrays the high ideals on which America was founded. Rains portrays Senator Paine, an idealist who sold his ideals for a political career. Here he explains how the political world works to the idealistic junior senator Jefferson Smith.
“I was hoping you’d be spared all this. I was hoping that you’d see the sights, absorb a lot of history, and go back to your boys. Now you’ve been living in a boy’s world, Jeff, and for heaven’s sakes, stay there! This is a man’s world. It’s a brutal world Jeff, and you’ve no place in it. You’ll only get hurt. Now take my advice. Forget Taylor and what he said. Forget you ever heard of the Willet Creek Dam…I know it’s tough to run head-on into facts but, well as I said, this is a man’s world Jeff, and you’ve got to check your ideals outside the door, like you do your rubbers. Thirty years ago I had your ideals. I was you. I had to make the same decision you were asked to make today. And I made it. I compromised – yes! So that all those years, I could sit in that Senate and serve the people in a thousand honest ways. You’ve got to face facts, Jeff. I’ve served our state well, haven’t I? We have the lowest unemployment and the highest federal grants. But, well, I’ve had to compromise. I’ve had to play ball. You can’t count on people voting. Half the time they don’t vote anyway. That’s how states and empires have been built since time began. Don’t you understand? [Pause] Well Jeff, you can take my word for it. That’s how things are. Now I’ve told you all this because, well I’ve grown very fond of you. About like a son, in fact. And I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
In the end Paine trys to take his own life, disgusted by the attempt of the political machine to crush Smith, and the part he has played to it. After he fails in his suicide attempt he shouts to his fellow senators:
“I’m not fit to be a Senator. I’m not fit to live. Expel me! Expel me! Not him. Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of our state. Every word of it is true. I’m not fit for office! I’m not fit for any place of honor or trust. Expel me!”

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posted July 17, 2006 at 9:11 am

I never quite bought that last plot twist in Mr. Smith at a scripting level (except as a way of saying that it would take a miracle to reform politics), but boy, Rains does sell the heck out of the scene.
I am also partial to him as the Phantom of the Opera (not a great film otherwise) and of course he is the (onscreen) man who makes Casablanca-without him, it’d just be another glossy angst-piece about Love and Duty set in a not-very-convincing “exotic” locale.

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posted July 17, 2006 at 11:24 am

Captain Renault made Casablanca the god-forsaken (well, not quite) place that it was. 😉
The other movie he was in with Ingrid, the Hitchcock one where Claude played the Nazi… That was a great performance too. (And I’m not remembering the name, shame on me.)

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posted July 17, 2006 at 11:33 am

“Notorious”, also starring Cary Grant.

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posted July 17, 2006 at 11:36 am

And John Garfield left us too soon. He was a great one.

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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted July 17, 2006 at 12:13 pm

One of Rains’ best performances was “unseen” — he was the original “Invisible Man.” I’ll never forget his maniacal laugh — he acted with his voice alone — and it was scary enough.

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posted July 17, 2006 at 12:21 pm

Claude Rains was superb as Caesar in 1947’s (I think it was) Caesar & Cleopatra with Vivien Leigh. I believe she suffered a miscarriage during the making of that movie, which was stark in atmosphere but still quite interesting. When she made Anna Karenina a year later, you could see how her poor health had taken a toll on her.
Ten years before, in 1937, the actress that played her slave in C&C, Flora Robson, played Queen Elizabeth in Fire Over England- & Vivien Leigh played her lady in waiting.
Love that TMC:)

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