Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Late Great Herbert Lom

Legendary actor Herbert Lom died today at the age of 95. He appeared in such films as The Ladykillers (1955), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and the  "Pink Panther" movies.

Herbert Lom was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic). Sources vary as to whether he was born Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru on 9 January or 11 September in 1917. He began his acting career in the theatre. It was in 1937 that he made his film debut in Austria-Hungary in the film Zena pod krízem (1937). The following year he appeared in Bozí mlýny (1938).  In 1939 he moved to London not long before the Nazis invaded. His parents would survive the invasion and later followed him to the United Kingdom. In London he acted at the Old Vic and various other theatres. He made his film debut in the United Kingdom in 1942 in The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), playing Napoleon. In the Forties he went onto appear in such films as Secret Mission (1942), Tomorrow We Live (1943), The Dark Tower (1943), The Seventh Veil (1945), Night Boat to Dublin (1946), Dual Alibi (1948), Snowbound (1948), Good-Time Girl (1948), Brass Monkey (1948), Golden Salamander (1950), Night and the City (1950), and The Black Rose (1950).

In the Fifties Mr. Lom appeared in such films as Hell Is Sold Out (1951), Mr. Denning Drives North (1952), Whispering Smith Hits London (1952), The Ringer (1952), The Net (1953), The Love Lottery (1954) , The Ladykillers (1955--in which he played Louis), War and Peace (1956--in which he once more played Napoleon), Hell Drivers (1957), I Accuse! (1958), The Roots of Heaven (1958), No Trees in the Street (1959), North West Frontier (1959), I Aim at the Stars (1960), and Spartacus (1960). He made his television debut in an episode of  BBC Sunday-Night Theatre in 1951. In the Fifties he also appeared on the  TV shows as Afternoon Film Festival and The Errol Flynn Theatre.

In the Sixties Mr. Lom was cast in some of his best known roles. He appeared as Captain Nemo in Mysterious Island (1961), the Phantom in Hammer Films' The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in A Shot in the Dark (1964). He would repeat the role of Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the films The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976),
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993).  In the Sixties he also appeared in such films as Mr. Topaze (1961), El Cid (1961), Treasure of Silver Lake (1962), Return from the Ashes (1965), Our Man in Marrakesh (1966), Gambit (1966), Die Nibelungen, Teil 2 - Kriemhilds Rache (1967), Villa Rides (1968), Assignment to Kill (1968), Doppelgänger (1969), Mark of the Devil (1970), Count Dracula (1970), and Dorian Gray (1970).  On television Herbert Lom played the lead role of Dr. Roger Corder in the show The Human Jungle. He guest starred on such shows as Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

In the Seventies Herbert Lom appeared in such films as Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971), Asylum (1972), -- And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), Ten Little Indians (1974), Charleston (1977), The Lady Vanishes (1979), and The Man with Bogart's Face (1980). He guest starred on the TV series Hawaii Five-O.  From the Eighties into the Nineties Mr. Lom appeared in such films as The Dead Zone (1983), Memed My Hawk (1984), King Solomon's Mines (1985), Master of Dragonard Hill (1987), Going Bananas (1987), Ten Little Indians (1989), Masque of the Red Death (1989), and La setta (1991). On television he appeared on the shows BBC Play of the Month, The Detectives, and Marple.

While best known in the United States for playing Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the "Pink Panther" movies, Herbert Lom was so much more than that. He was an extraordinary actor who could play an incredible variety of roles. Indeed, while many European actors who migrated to the United Kingdom or the United States found themselves typecast as exotic heavies, Herbert Lom played a number of different sorts of roles. He played Napoloen (twice), Captain Nemo, General Ibn Yusuf  (in El Cid), Abraham Van Helsing, and Simon Legree. On The Human Jungle he played psychiatrist  Roger Corder so convincingly one could almost believe he had a medical degree. Indeed, while some actors can be said to have primarily played heavies and others to have primarily played heroes, Mr. Lom seems to have played both in equal measure, and to have played both equally well.

1 comment:

Neve Rendell said...

HL will forever be the the nervous gangster in The Ladykillers, clutching his violin case as if it was a machine gun. RIP