Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Charles Laughton

Something brought the memory of Charles Laughton to my mind the other day.  I remembered being charmed and instructed by his readings which were popular in the fifties.  He was a superb actor as can be seen in the following video. 
This clip is from a 1948 Hollywood movie called "On Our Merry Way".  Hard to believe, but this scene was cut from the movie.  In fact, I understand that all his work was removed from this particular film as not fitting the story theme.  Fortunately, the cuts were saved for our enjoyment today.


  1. I discovered the existence of the film when I found two old stills of Laughton in a shop. I was amazed because the film wasn't mentioned in any Laughton filmography back then. I was very, very intrigued.

    Curiously enough (because the film was never released in Spain on its time), I saw it years ago on TV, and the copy broadcasted had the Laughton sketch... The film was later released around here in DVD by different distributors: some included the Laughton clip, some didn't..., Weird, isn't it? Thank the Gods for youtube, at any rate.

    Incidentally, did you see Laughton himself reading, or just listened him from recordings? In the former case, I'd like to hear further reminiscences ;D

  2. No, I never attended in-person performances of Laughton readings, but his TV readings were live TV, not pre-recorded or filmed. He was especially popular at Christmas time. I recall that Laughton was praised for reviving interest in the classics as a result of his reading performances.
    C.L. was a remarkable man, into everything: acting anywhere, writing, directing, producing.
    One quirky personal note. In September 1956, I was in the main room of the Student Union building at Kansas University with a throng of other students, assembled to watch the first live performance on national TV by Elvis Presley. The program was The Ed Sullivan Show. Mr Sullivan was in hospital and a guest host performed his duties, including the introduction of Elvis to the nation. That guest host was Charles Laughton.

  3. I think Elvis should consider a privilege to have his first nation-wide TV appearance to have been done by Laughton. I envy you for having seen CL live on TV. I have some recordings of his readings and I wonder if a record exists of his TV readings.

    He was indeed a remarkable man. He was dissed by some British colleagues: apparently, they thought that he didn't perform enough times on Stratford. I suspect, they also thought -and deeply resented- that the man was very talented and very able to connect citizens-on-foot and made them genuinely curious about culture. Of course, they knew WHO to please and got the Knighthoods: Laughton never got a Knighthood, but he sure got the love.

  4. I do not know of any recording of Laughton's TV appearances.
    Your remarks on his critics are on the mark.
    Your website has revived my interest in the movie This Land Is Mine. Haven't figured out how yet, but I will find a way to watch it.