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December 7, 2008
9780813172187
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9780813192611
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Claude Rains

An Actor's Voice

Late in Claude Rains's distinguished career, a reverent film journalist wrote that Rains "was as much a cinematic institution as the medium itself." Given his childhood speech impediments and his origins in a destitute London neighborhood, the ascent of Claude Rains (1889–1967) to the stage and screen is remarkable. Rains's difficulties in his formative years provided reserves of gravitas and sensitivity, from which he drew inspiration for acclaimed performances in The Invisible Man (1933), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and other classic films. In Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice, noted Hollywood historian David J. Skal draws on more than thirty hours of newly released Rains interviews to create the first full-length biography of the actor who was nominated multiple times for an Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Skal's portrait of the gifted actor also benefits from the insights of Jessica Rains, who provides firsthand accounts of the enigmatic man behind her father's refined screen presence and genteel public persona. As Skal shows, numerous contradictions informed the life and career of Claude Rains. He possessed an air of nobility and became an emblem of sophistication, but he never shed the insecurities that traced back to his upbringing in an abusive and poverty-stricken family. Though deeply self-conscious about his short stature, Rains drew notorious ardor from female fans and was married six times. His public displays of dry wit and good humor masked inner demons that drove Rains to alcoholism and its devastating consequences. Skal's layered depiction of Claude Rains reveals a complex, almost inscrutable man whose nuanced characterizations were, in no small way, based on the more shadowy parts of his psyche. With unprecedented access to episodes from Rains's private life, Skal tells the full story of the consummate character actor of his generation. Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice, gives voice to the struggles and innermost concerns that influenced Rains's performances and helped him become a universally respected Hollywood legend.

About the Authors

David J. Skal, the author of numerous books about film and popular culture, including Hollywood Gothic and The Monster Show.

Jessica Rains, the only child of Claude Rains, is a producer and actress.

Reviews

"[Claude Rains] was perfect. There's a very small group of actors who seemingly never made a mistake: Walter Huston, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, and Claude Rains."—Roddy McDowell

"[Claude Rains] was witty, amusing, and beautiful. And thoroughly enchanting to be with. And brilliant."—Bette Davis

"Claude Rains was a consummate actor whose remarkable life and career has been covered in fascinating detail in this book."—Kevin Brownlow

"Most movie stars eventually are forgotten, and almost all character actors are, but the reputation of Claude Rains has survived for more than 40 years since his death. David Skal's biography, written with Rains' daughter, probably will provoke even more welcome—and justified—reassessments of his gifts."—Scott Eyman, Cox News Service

"This highly readable biography, written with the help of his daughter, Jessica Rains, reeals the witty, talented man behind this universally respected Hollywood legend."—Tuscan Citizen

"A comprehensive, breezily written guide to a consummate gentleman and an ever-dlligent pro."—Post and Courier

"The book has an excellent appendix detailing Rain's theatre and film work, and a good bibliography and index."—Mary of Many Colors

"It's a fast, compelling read, leaving readers to reach their own conclusions."—Expressionmilwaukee.com

"Well-researched, competently written biography of the English actor."—Robert Nott, Sante Fe New Mexican

"Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice seeks to shine the spotlight on one of the sharpest and most elegant stars of classical Hollywood cinema. . . . Skal has presented and organized a treature trove of material with methodical acuity. [A] lucid and informative biography."—Scope

9780813172187 : claude-rains-skal-rains
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$24.95 USD
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304 Pages
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304 Pages
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