Claude Rains: An Invisible Man

BearManor. Sept. 2022. 361p. ISBN 9781629339917. pap. $38. FILM
Who could forget Claude Rains (1889–1967) as the manipulative and mellifluous Captain Renault, walking into the fog with Rick in the final scene of Casablanca? Cohen became a dedicated fan after seeing one of his films in her childhood. This strong biography is an affectionate portrait of the performer, whom she considers to be the best of his generation. Born in London into abject poverty, Rains overcame a broad Cockney accent and speech impediment to develop his distinctive vocal style. Moving to the U.S. after World War I, he revered America and was deeply proud of his American citizenship. While his first love was theatre, his role in the 1933 film The Invisible Man changed the course of his life. He earned Oscar nominations for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Mr. Skeffington, and Notorious. Cohen explains the intricacies of the studio contract system—Rains was under contract to Warner Brothers—and how he often struggled within it. While Rains was a virtuoso performer, he struggled with personal relationships, eventually marrying six times.
VERDICT With extensive photographs, notes, and bibliography, this is a notable and detailed tribute to an actor who deserves to be remembered.
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