Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Character Actor Month Finale: J. Carrol Naish


This week's TCM Movie Morlock Blog celebrates the career of a character actor so ubiquitous that he is too often ignored, beginning below:

Careening across the countryside in a gypsy wagon, a lovesick hunchback cries out piteously for release from his twisted form. A hardworking Jewish-American father tries to appease his young son on his birthday, seeking to interest him in a baseball bat rather than an expensive violin.

A tired general on the Western frontier finds a few moments of solace in soldiers' singing.

An Italian soldier, willing to do anything to get back to his wife and baby, is stranded in the war-torn desert. A stoic Indian chief joins a wild west show, finding a way to keep his dignity despite his reduced circumstances. A broken matador tells an up and comer some hard truths. A Mexican dictator regretfully but decisively goes to war. A Japanese editor tries to correct his American-educated son's corrupt Western ways. A half-monkey, half-man broods endlessly about his plight, especially since he's stuck being a houseboy for his creator.

What do each of these diverse (and sometimes pretty outlandish) characters and at least 200 more have in common?

Character actor and changeling J. Carrol Naish (1896-1973). I can't possibly touch on the range of Naish's roles in this blog, but his remarkably productive career includes an enormous range of characters, far beyond the roles as heavily accented types he is often best remembered for today...more

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