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  Claude Rains
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(William Claude Rains 1889–1967). British actor.

Acted in: The Invisible Man (James WHALE 1933); The Clairvoyant (Maurice Elvey 1934); Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941); The Wolf Man (George Waggoner 1941); Phantom of the Opera (Arthur LUBIN 1943); Strange Holiday [The Day after Tomorrow] (1945) (Arch OBOLER 1945); Angel on My Shoulder (Archie Mayo 1946); The Pied Piper of Hamelin (tv movie) (Bretaigne Windust 1957); The Lost World (Irwin ALLEN; 1960); "David and Goliath" (animated; narrator, uncredited) (1960), episode of Mel-O-Toons; Shangri-La (tv movie) (George Schaefer 1960); Battle of the Worlds (Antonio MARGHERITI; 1961); The Greatest Story Ever Told (George Stevens 1965).
Like many actors, Claude Rains encountered science fiction films on his way up, and on his way down. Thus, an entry in this encyclopedia can pay no attention to the fondly remembered roles he played, at the peak of his career, in major films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1943), and Notorious (1946).  But even without such triumphs, Rains would still be remembered today for the role that initially earned him the status of a major star.

As the son of a prominent British actor who grew up performing in noteworthy stage productions, he could have had no inkling that, in his forties, he would be tempted to abandon Broadway by an offer to star in a Hollywood horror film. But perhaps he was consoled by the fact that it would be a horror film based on a novel by H. G. WELLS , and directed by the man responsible for the original Frankenstein (1931), James WHALE. In any event, Rains drew upon the full range of his skills and experience to brilliantly portray a character whose face is never observed until the very end of the film, conveying his prickly intelligence solely by means of his voice and his body movements. Having demonstrated such talent, Rains was immediately shifted into more upscale territory and could long avoid additional horror films, though he somehow found himself taking on the thankless task of playing Lon CHANEY, Jr.'s father in The Wolf Man, and he distinguished himself in a role made famous by that actor's father, Lon CHANEY, in Phantom of the Opera. He also showed his versatility by starring both as an angel, in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and as the Devil, in Angel on My Shoulder.

But Rains had entered films at a relatively advanced age, and when he entered his sixties, he found that he was no longer in demand. So, he did what he could to remain active: mostly, a number of performances on television, though he could occasionally land a role in minor films—like science fiction films. Thus, he found himself desperately striving to portray a persuasive Professor Challenger amidst some very unpersuasive lizards pretending to be dinosaurs in Irwin ALLEN's risible version of The Lost World.  Yet he was very much better in Antonio MARGHERITI's Battle of the Worlds, seizing upon the part of an irascible scientist to completely dominate the film with his biting dialogue and surprisingly energetic movements for an actor in his seventies. In small parts or large parts, Rains always found a way to make himself very visible indeed.

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