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Claude Rains


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About the Author

David J. Skal is the author of numerous books about film and popular culture, including Hollywood Gothic and The Monster Show. He is a frequent lecturer and talk-show guest and has produced several documentaries about Hollywood history, including documentaries about Claude Rains's The Invisible Man and Phantom of the Opera. Jessica Rains, the only child of Claude Rains, is a producer and actress whose performance credits include The Sting, Pete and Tillie, Islands in the Stream, and Portnoy's Complaint.


One of the great character stars of 1930s-40s American cinema and a distinguished stage actor for years prior, Claude Rains had much to overcome before he reached that pinnacle. The handicap of a bad childhood stammer together with his short stature made him an unlikely candidate for stardom. In time, his memorable baritone voice flowered in all its glory. Ironically, in his first American film only his voice was heard; in The Invisible Man (1933), he was not seen on screen until the last minute. He went on to appear in numerous movies, some distinguished (e.g., Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Casablanca; Lawrence of Arabia) and many not, for the next 30 years or so. Skal (The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror) had the invaluable resource of tapes that Rains made and notes taken by a writer for a much earlier, unwritten Rains biography. In addition, Rains's daughter, Jessica, contributed many of her own personal memories. This may be a long overdue biography, but it is not a definitive one. The book relates biographical facts but largely skims over the surface of someone who must have been a very complex man indeed. Recommended for inclusive cinema collections.--Roy Liebman, Los Angeles P.L. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Claude Rains was a consummate actor whose remarkable life and career has been covered in fascinating detail in this book." - Kevin Brownlow, filmmaker "Most movie stars eventually are forgotten, and almost all character actors are, but the reputation of Claude Rains has survived for more than forty years since his death. David Skal's biography, written with Rains's daughter, probably will provoke even more welcome - and justified - reassessments of his gifts." - Scott Eyman, Cox News Service"

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