1 July 1899 – 15 December 1962
Today we recall the great Charles Laughton, an immense, thick, boiled ham, but top-notch ham none the less. David Shipman described him as a “big, brazen, show-off actor. He went overboard sometimes…but as well as the bold, daring gesture – the hallmark of the great actor – he could perform with infinite delicacy.”*
He was superb in big-time historical roles, playing Henry VIII, Rembrandt, and Captain Bligh; or in lush, epic sagas such as Les Miserables or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but he could quite good in comedy as well – see It Started With Eve, The Canterville Ghost and Hobson’s Choice.
As he got older (and fatter), he was reduced to fat old man roles, which we suppose is fair enough. He could still shine however: he is very good as Ray Milland’s devious boss in The Big Clock (1948), and in particular, in his last film before he died of cancer, the political thriller, Advise and Consent.
And his one shot at directing, which failed commercially, is a bona fide classic: The Night of the Hunter.[*The Great Movie Stars – the Golden Years 1970, p. 336.]