Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: Red Door Claude Rains, An Actor's Voice

Title Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice (Screen Classics)
Author David J. Skal
Rating ****
Tags claude rains, non-fiction, biography, actors 

I've adored Claude Rains in movies as long as I can remember, so was excited to find out there's a biography of him.

Rains came from a very poor background in England. His father acted, among other things, and Claude was apprenticed to the theater by age 12 to help bring in money. He worked his way up in the theatre, becoming a stage manager and acting in occasional small parts. He stuttered, and did not have a strong voice, but it improved through time, and, ironically, through being gassed during his military service in WWI. He went back to acting and got better and better parts. A bitter divorce (he was married a total of six times) led him to emigrate to the U.S. where he was successful on the stage and then turned to acting in film. From there he did almost no more stage work. Skal gives brief portraits of his films, Rain's roles, and the impact of the movie.

The author was lucky enough to have tapes that Rains made when another author was interested in doing a biography, but both that author and Rains died before it was done. Skal also talked extensively to Rain's daughter Jessica. The book has an excellent appendix detailing Rain's theatre and film work, and a good bibliography and index. It is a workmanlike book, but fairly pedestrian... it never sings.


Other Author – Rains, Jessica
Publication The University Press of Kentucky (2008), Edition: 2nd, Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication date 2008
ISBN 0813124328 / 9780813124322

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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