Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
GREAT OLD ACTORS -- J. CARROL NAISH
J. CARROL NAISH (1896 - 1973). NOTE: In his early credits Naish's name was spelled "Carroll" with two "l"s.
The great character actor J. Carrol Naish had over 200 film roles to his credit in his long and distinguished career, and he acquitted himself admirable in virtually every single role.
After many bit parts, one of his more memorable early roles was as Sun Yat Ming in the Loretta Young/Edward G. Robinson starrer The Hatchet Man. Naish played a friend of Robinson's who doesn't realize that the latter has been sent to kill him. He supported Robinson again in Two Seconds, and once again was excellent. When he did Crooner, playing the manager of a nightclub that employers David Manners as a singer, he showed his flair for comedy.
Although Naish was of Irish ancestry, he seemed to play more Italians and other ethnic types, although he had at least one Irish role.
Naish appeared in everything from Charlie Chan, Bulldog Drummond, and Mr. Moto mysteries to more prestigious films such as Anthony Adverse with Fredric March and Charge of the Light Brigade. You could find him in musicals (Down Argentine Way), dramas (Tales of Manhattan), horror films (Dr. Renault's Secret) and serials (Batman as the sinister, cackling Dr. Daka).
He did a lot of television work in the sixties; his last film was Dracula vs. Frankenstein in 1971, about which the less said the better. Better to remember that he was Chief Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun, John Garfield's father in Humoresque with Joan Crawford, worked with everyone from Mario Lanza to Frank Sinatra to Barbara Stanwyck in Clash By Night. In House of Frankenstein Naish stole the picture from all the other actors and monsters with his striking portrayal of the tormented hunchback Daniel.
Naish was one of that rare breed of character actors of whom it can be safely said : They just don't make 'em like that anymore!