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How About a Shout Out for John Litel?


lydecker
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Inspired by Top Billed's "Kay Francis Appreciation" thread I thought we should give a little

love to character actor, John Litel.  Litel appeared in 154 films (not counting shorts) and is

always fun to watch.  Simply one of those "Hollywood reliables" who did the job and did it right day in and day out.  I think my favorite JL performance is in "Crime Doctor" where he finally gets to

play the villain.  Interesting turns also in "Comet Over Bradway" (here we go again with Kay) and "Midnight Court."  TCM does a mini salute to John Litel on July 8.

 

Lydecker

 

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Don't forget Mr. Litel's four-film run as Nancy Drew's father, Carson, in the late 30s series starring Bonita Granville as the title character. 

 

There, as in his other roles, Litel brought a level of solid competence to his performances that never let down the other actors or the audience.  He may not have been a star, but his good work made the stars look all that much better.

 

Another favorite movie with John Litel is HOUSEBOAT, where he plays Cary Grant's father-in-law (more specifically, the father of Grant's late wife, from whom Grant was estranged before her death).  Not a big part, but Litel does a good job with it.  We often watch HOUSEBOAT at this time of year because it takes place around the Fourth of July.

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Looking at Mr. Litel's VERY lengthy filmography in the IMDb website just now, I believe we might have found someone who appeared on the screen(both the big and small) even more than Ward Bond.

 

Seems that face of his, a face which projected earnestness and sincerity in spades, and his overall manner lent him to be cast many times as a judge or some other public official when movie and early television producers were looking for that type, and especially in his later years and especially during and in the "Golden Age" of television Westerns. Though yeah, I do also remember him playing a few villains early on in his career to good effect.

 

john-litel-948555l.jpg

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Inspired by Top Billed's "Kay Francis Appreciation" thread I thought we should give a little

love to character actor, John Litel.  Litel appeared in 154 films (not counting shorts) and is

always fun to watch.  Simply one of those "Hollywood reliables" who did the job and did it right day in and day out.  I think my favorite JL performance is in "Crime Doctor" where he finally gets to

play the villain.  Interesting turns also in "Comet Over Bradway" (here we go again with Kay) and "Midnight Court."  TCM does a mini salute to John Litel on July 8.

 

Lydecker

For trivia buffs-- John Litel and Kay Francis appeared in two WB films together in 1938: MY BILL and COMET OVER BROADWAY.

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One of my favorite utility players.  I first ot to know him as Sam Aldrich in the Henry Aldrich pictures.  Then all of his great Warner Bros. appearances.  Most notably, he starred as THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY in the Technicolor two-reeler made in 1936.

 

I think the last film I saw him in was VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.

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One of my favorite utility players.  I first ot to know him as Sam Aldrich in the Henry Aldrich pictures.  Then all of his great Warner Bros. appearances.  Most notably, he starred as THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY in the Technicolor two-reeler made in 1936.

 

I think the last film I saw him in was VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.

 

His 1938 short "The Declaration of Independence" can be seen tomorrow at 1pm Eastern time.

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One of my favorite utility players.  I first ot to know him as Sam Aldrich in the Henry Aldrich pictures.  Then all of his great Warner Bros. appearances.  Most notably, he starred as THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY in the Technicolor two-reeler made in 1936.

 

I think the last film I saw him in was VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.

He's one of the prime examples of an actor whom everyone recognizes, but many do not know his name.

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Learned a bit more about John Litel (one of my favorite character actors) today.  Born in Wisconsin but attended the University of PA.  Joined the French Army during WWI and was awarded 2 medals.

Also acted in many television shows (mostly westerns) concurrent with some of his later film roles.  

A fine actor who went on and on and on.  

 

Lydecker 

 

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Another one of the actors who made movies good and great.  Wife and I frequently watch the Nancy Drew movies and learned to recognize John Litel every time he shows up in movies and TV shows now.

Marie Windsor is another one that comes to mind as someone who did a very good job for a very long time.

Perhaps if TCM has to have Summer Under the Stars, maybe it is time to start thinking of Litel, Windsor and other actors.  Skip the big name "stars" for a year.

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Another one of the actors who made movies good and great.  Wife and I frequently watch the Nancy Drew movies and learned to recognize John Litel every time he shows up in movies and TV shows now.

Marie Windsor is another one that comes to mind as someone who did a very good job for a very long time.

Perhaps if TCM has to have Summer Under the Stars, maybe it is time to start thinking of Litel, Windsor and other actors.  Skip the big name "stars" for a year.

Hey, I have wanted them to do a SUTS with just character actors for years . . . It will never happen, though!

 

Lydecker

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Hey, I have wanted them to do a SUTS with just character actors for years . . . It will never happen, though!

 

Lydecker

Rather than repeat the same actors as SOTM, though, they should take, say, 3 consecutive months, and, in each month, have three or four character actors as joint SOTMs.

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Rather than repeat the same actors as SOTM, though, they should take, say, 3 consecutive months, and, in each month, have three or four character actors as joint SOTMs.

 

Hmmm... "joint" SOTMs, ya say?

 

(...why, I thought they already HAD spotlighted Mitchum in this series, finance?!) 

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Hmmm... "joint" SOTMs, ya say?

 

(...why, I thought they already HAD spotlighted Mitchum in this series, finance?!) 

 

Instead of messing with SOTM my idea was for TCM to add a new series;  Supporting Players of the Month.    This series would be like SOTM  (4 or 5 movies,  one day a week),  but feature supporting players.     There is a lot of creative things TCM could do with such a series;   e.g.  one month feature supporting players from a certain studio  or supporting players that were good for a laugh,  etc...

 

Of course maybe it is time to just retire SOTM and replace it with something like SPOTM.    

 

Now back to John Litel;   One of his best roles was in the 1937 Bette Davis movie Marked Women, which also had Bogie playing a good guy (the DA).      Litel plays a mob lawyer and he plays the part very well.    He is the only NON 'yes man' in the gang.    He is glib with the boss and not afraid to tell him what he doesn't want to hear.  A much different role then the nice guy, father type he was asked to play so often.

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This is the kind of actor I always enjoy seeing in a film.

 

I always watch the credits when a film begins, and if the decidedly talented Mister Litel is in it, I know I am in for a good time.

 

He could play many types of roles and was always reliably impressive.

 

Cheers to him and bravo to this call for a "shout out" for him also!

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