Friday, August 20, 2010

Madame Curie (1943)

I hadn't seen Madame Curie in quite a few years, and last night, just as I turned on Turner Classic Films, it had just started.  Fortuitous!

Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon star in the 1943 biopic about the woman who discovered polonium and radium, and also coined the term radioactive.  (I told you we weren't finished with physics!)  Obviously, Curie set the stage for many things to come in the world.

But I am interested in the movie, and especially the bit parts.  Let's look.

Of course, one of the first actors I recognized was Henry Travers (1874 - 1965), who also played Clarence the Angel in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Mr. Bogardus in The Bells of St. Mary's in 1945.  In Madame Curie he played Pierre Curie's father.  His voice gave him away.

Van Johnson (1916 - 2008) has a small part in this, his eleventh film.  Gene Lockhart (1891 - 1957), father of June, has an uncredited bit part somewhere in there.  This was four years before he played the judge in Miracle on 34th St. 

Alan Napier (1903 - 1988) appears here, and the same year he is also in The Song of Bernadette.  Napier played in 145 roles from 1930 to 1981, and is probably best remembered as Alfred the Butler on TV's "Batman" series.  He was a good actor and we should seek out other things he is in.  Did you know he had a bit part in My Fair Lady?  He was also the high priest in The Mole People in 1956.  I guess they can't all be hits.

Lastly, I want to mention Frederick Worlock (1886 - 1973) who had an extra's part in Madame Curie.  He made over 100 movie and TV appearances.  It looks like he may have been acting on the stage early in his career.  His first film was in 1914, and then he works in one in 1928, then again in 1939.  He must have been doing something for work between films, or just waiting for them to perfect sound recording.

After the slow start, he appears in loads of big movies.  The Sea Hawk in 1940 with Errol Flynn, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Spencer Tracy in 1941, Air Raid Wardons with Laurel and Hardy in 1943, six Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone, plus National Velvet, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Joan of Arc in 1948 with Ingrid Bergman, then into TV starting in 1951.

He appears in several episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and a lot of the early teleplays on TV.  In 1960 he was in Sparticus, and the next year he did voices in One Hundred and One Dalmations.  His last role was as a passenger on the ill-fated plane in the 1970 hit movie, Airport.

I have seen almost all of the above mentioned films, and I couldn't tell you what Frederick Worlock looks like!  I found a pic to help you, good readers.  I guess that makes for a great Bit Actor.

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