carl laemmle

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Rebecca Isabelle “Carla” Laemmle (born October 20, 1909 - Los Angeles, 12 juni 2014)

American actress and the niece of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle. She was a movie actress in the 1920s and 1930s, and was, along with Lupita Tovar, one of the very few surviving actors of the silent film era.

-The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

-Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927)

-The Hollywood Revue of (1929)

-King of Jazz (1930)

-Dracula (1931)

-Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)

-The Adventures of Frank Merriwell (1936)

-On Your Toes (1939)

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Philbin had never met Lon Chaney before and was initially very shy and nervous around him. He, in return, was demanding to the extreme, determined at all cost to coax a good performance from her. During the filming of the crucial scene of the Phantom’s unmasking, he turned on her with a barrage of insults. Mary, deeply hurt but too proud to cry, was on the verge of reporting him to Carl Laemmle. Then Chaney raised his hand to strike her and Mary fell back screaming, remembering “the wild rage in his eyes”, putting her hand to her face and letting the tears flow. Once it had been caught on film Chaney began to comfort her, explaining that he had done it for the good of the film. After that she came to adore him and he, in his turn, made sure he was on set for her scenes, even those in which he did not feature.

-The Phantom of the Opera, 25th Anniversary Edition by Michael Heatley

A post wherein film writer Kimberly Luperi spotlights the career of beloved, although often overshadowed, acting great Claude Rains.

In my mind, Claude Rains was sort of an “Invisible Man”: a marvelous performer who I’ve felt was rather underrated and overshadowed by bigger stars, as character actors often are. Rains even likened himself to one during a 1933 New York Times interview discussing THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33): “I daresay it was the best thing they could do with this face,” he quipped. “Now if they could keep it invisible, I might get by in the cinema.”

Tinseltown didn’t keep Rains concealed for long, but I’d say he got by pretty well in the movies nonetheless. See: his string of compelling performances in classics like THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (‘38), CASABLANCA ('42), NOTORIOUS ('46) and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA ('62), to name but a few.

Trained extensively on the stage in England and America, the London-born Rains made the leap to film late in his career. Technology of the time kept his expressive voice hushed in his first screen outing, BUILD THY HOUSE (’20), but Rains’ brogue played a crucial role in landing his next picture 13 years later across the pond, THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33).

James Whale, famous for contributing FRANKENSTEIN ('31) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ('35) to Universal’s classic horror canon, took the reins on THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33). Though one legend has it that Whale overheard Rains’ RKO screen test and exclaimed, “I don’t care who that actor is, but I want that voice!” the fact is that Whale was familiar with Rains’ tenure teaching at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (where Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton were among his students) and lobbied for Rains from the beginning. Luckily for the director, Universal’s first choice Boris Karloff dropped out after producer Carl Laemmle Jr. repeatedly pushed Karloff to take a salary cut, and Whale slyly dissuaded second choice Colin Clive so Rains could step in. Though Laemmle objected to the casting of an unknown, Whale prevailed.

THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) may seem an odd Hollywood debut for a well-known stage star because the lead receives mere seconds of screen time, but the picture made Rains incredibly visible. The New York Times praised Rains and noted that “no actor has ever made his first appearance on the screen under quite as peculiar circumstance,” while other notices hailed the movie as “one of the best yet produced” and a “remarkable achievement.” Indeed, Rains’ menacing performance, Whale’s masterful direction, R.C. Sherriff’s meticulous adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel and John P. Fulton’s cunning special effects unanimously earned rave reviews and helped the film smash a three-year attendance record at New York City’s Roxy Theatre. Though visual wizardry has progressed leaps and bounds in the 83 years since its original release, THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) still retains the ability to awe and delight viewers today, in part owing to the scrupulous balance between its visual trickery, drama and a “generous quota” of comedy.

Following THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) success, Variety reported that Universal "figures the curiosity aroused by the first pic…will act as an effective buildup” for Rains’ next outing for the studio, which would provide audiences their first full view of the actor. But Paramount actually beat them to the punch by releasing Rains’ CRIME WITHOUT PASSION ('34) in between those two Universal pictures. Had Paramount held off, the aforementioned Universal film, THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD ('34), would have been an ironic, apropos follow-up for the formerly invisible man.