Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rains Reigns At Alabama Library

The University of North Alabama Library's Collier Library has announced the acquisition of film scripts, photographs, DVD's. interview recordings, and other personal papers from famed motion picture actor Claude Rains.

The collection is a donation from his only child, daughter Jessica Rains, herself an actor in such films as The Sting (1973) and Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973).

Claude Rains, born in London in 1889, became a US citizen in 1939, a year following daughter Jessica's birth. Originally a stage actor, he came to motion pictures late in his career, becoming a sensation as the titular character in James Whale's The Invisible Man (1933).

In a film career spanning over 30 years, he appeared in such cinematic staples as Michael Curtiz's The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Now, Voyager (1942), and Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), but may be most fondly remembered for his role as Captain Renault in Curtiz's Casablanca (1942).

Rains casts a suspicious eye as gendarme Captain Renault in Casablanca

After The Invisible Man, Raines was in danger of becoming typecast as Universal's go-to actor for their sausage-like chain of B-grade horror films. He successfully broke out of this mold when he moved over to Warner Bros., though he would return to the horror genre throughout his career, with even some of his non-horror performances retaining a bit of the horror-film flair and style for which he was justly famous.

Of special significance in the Rains Collection are 30 hours of taped interviews with Mr. Rains for an anticipated autobiography. In fact, these interviews formed the cornerstone of noted author David J. Skal's biography, Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice (2008; University Press of Kentucky; 2nd edition), which is co-authored by Jessica Rains. Skal has authored several his books on horror and science-fiction films.

Both authors were on hand at the Rains Collection donation event staged at UNA this past week.

David J. Skal autographs his biography of Claude Rains. (Jessica Rains at left.)

In addition, UNA's English Club and Pillar of Fire club co-sponsored a related screening of The Invisible Man, followed by a reading of the stage adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s novel "Darkness at Noon" (1940), for which Rains won a Tony Award as Best Actor in 1951.

It is fitting that the Rains material has been donated to UNA, where it will be an integral part of their burgeoning film acquisitions specializing in the science-fiction and horror genres of the 1930's and 1940's. Other notable genre practitioners represented in their collections include noted sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, and George Clayton Johnson, co-author with William F. Nolan of the classic sci-fi novel Logan's Run (1967) and a writer from the classic Twilight Zone TV series, as well such well-known all-around actors as Ernest Borgnine, who has donated his copy of Marty (1955), for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor. The Rains Collection will no doubt prove invaluable to scholars, researchers, and students of classic Hollywood films. In other words, the usual suspects.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad this material is being preserved.


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