In yesterday’s final blog about Scarborough, I said I didn’t have time to mention another great figure to have come from that great North Yorkshire town. I have changed my mind because I can’t leave Scarborough without mentioning one of my favourite actors, the unique Charles Laughton who was born there and grew up in his parents’ hotels there, latterly the Pavilion Hotel by the railway station. It was a handsome building and it’s Scarborough’s loss that it was demolished in the 1970s.
I became a devotee after watching him on television in the days when British TV used to broadcast old films during the afternoon or at other out of peak times. I will never forget Laughton in, Mutiny on the Bounty (1933), The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Hobson’s Choice (1954) and, of course, and particularly, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939).
Laughton’s Quasimodo was the only good impersonation I was ever been able to do as an impressionable schoolboy. I couldn’t resist entertaining some of my friends when on a choir trip to Winchester Cathedral where the architecture just cried out for a Hunchback moment. Unfortunately for me, I was in mid-flow descendning a flight of steps to the South Transept when I was spotting by the Dean of Winchester who, if he was amused, didn’t let on. Anyway, Charles Laughton was magnificent in that film (1939) directed by William Dieterle. Here he is again – I never tire of watching it.
It was remarkable for an actor who looked so, well, different from normal, that he was able to play so many different parts. Take a look at these, a great way to spend a Sunday:
Mutiny On The Bounty (1933) directed by Frank Lloyd
Private Life Of Henry VIII (1933) directed by Alexander Korda
Hobson’s Choice (1954) directed by David Lean
Here he is in his last film, Advise and Consent (1962), directed by Otto Preminger. Laughton was dying of kidney cancer.