Site Under Reconstruction

Charles Laughton

[8] Five travelers end up stranded at our title location after a fierce night-time storm makes driving the English hillsides too dangerous. The family that lives there is less than hospitable, with secrets that make the evening increasingly frightening. The Old Dark House is one of the grandfathers of what is now a classic horror sub-genre. Director James Whale (Frankenstein, Waterloo Bridge) makes it a …

[6] Devil and the Deep stars Tallulah Bankhead as the wife of a U.S. naval commander played by Charles Laughton (receiving ‘introducing’ credit here). Laughton’s character is mentally ill and insanely jealous of every man Bankhead ever comes into contact with, which includes Cary Grant early on in the film, and later with Gary Cooper. Thing is, Tallulah really did sleep with Cooper (God bless …

[7] Charles Laughton plays H.G. Wells’ mad scientist in the first film version of The Island of Dr Moreau. It’s a reasonably faithful adaptation until the halfway point, where it gets as loose as the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter. Wells’ provocative suggestions about man’s animal nature remain largely submerged in the movie’s Saturday matinee atmosphere. Leading man Richard Arlen (so striking in …

[7] In this political drama from director Otto Preminger, Henry Fonda plays the president’s newly appointed Secretary of State, but before he can take the position he must pass the Senate’s nasty accusations of communism and homosexuality. Advise and Consent starts out very plot-driven and a little dry, unless you’re really interested in senate politics. But by the mid-point, I had invested in the ensemble …

[6] Charles Laughton’s performance as Quasimodo is the main reason to see this movie. Laughton gives the deformed bell ringer moments of quiet torment as well as unbridled joy, and without ever going over the top – a remarkable feat that should have earned him an Oscar nomination. I also liked Cedric Hardwicke as the malevolent Frollo and Maureen O’Hara (in her screen debut) as …

[8] You know you’re in for a harrowing journey when the ship’s captain gives a dead man 300 lashes before the ship even leaves port. Charles Laughton steals the show here as the torturous Captain Bligh, a greedy monster who plays recklessly with the lives of his crew. Clark Gable is charismatic as Fletcher Christian, the man who leads the uprising against Bligh (and without …

[8] Fans of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator might be surprised how much they will also enjoy (perhaps even prefer) its progenitor. Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus is a briskly-paced epic, and uncharacteristically emotional compared to his other work. Kirk Douglas is iconic in the lead role, playing a slave forced to fight in the gladiatorial arena for the enjoyment of the aristocracy. Of course he falls in love …

[10] Two small children run for their lives from a murderous preacher in the only film actor Charles Laughton ever directed. The Night of the Hunter is a unique blend — part fable and part thriller, both pastoral and horrific, a beguiling mixture of qualities that usually mark the work of an amateur… or a genius. Laughton is as precise and purposeful as Orson Wells …