A look at a nifty little armchair/field guide to character actors.
Here’s a fun little book that I wanted to include on the Book Talk videos but it’s something that you really need to see up close to appreciate. This is a 64 page 1967 softcover, with not much writing in it, but tons of little head shots, about 15 to a page so do the math on how many great faces you’ll find in here. And that’s the point: faces. This is a book you are meant to keep handy while watching films, either as a newbie classic movie viewer, or a self-professed expert who wants to test or refresh their memory. You see that face and say to yourself, “who is that again?” and then flip open to the TOC to narrow down the search by type of character. Here those are:
(Mr. ffoliot would appreciate the spelling of Barff, with two “ff”‘s.) Aha, you say, the man I seek falls into the Windbag and Blowhard category, so over you flip to check the mug shots.
…and there are a couple more pages of those, including George Tobias, Ralph Dumke, William Frawley, Charlie Winninger, etc etc.
Here’s a look at the intrusive busybody section, with such greats as Rosalind Ivan, Minerva Urecal, Chester Clute and “that guy!” Irving Bacon.
Here’s an example of the “ethnics” section, a page on actors who either looked like, actually were, or just frequently played a lot of Slavs. Other pages cover Irish, German, Black, Asian, and “miscellaneous” ethnicity, where you’ll find Philip Dorn, Nils Asther and many others.
And, this book has an index which I love to see; handy when you know who you want but can’t recall the face. It’s dedicated to Jack Norton, “the ultimate drunk,” and Bess Flowers, “queen of the dress extras,” and touts all the people pictured in this book as Hollywood’s real and brightest stars for being in hundreds of movies yet never getting their deserved attention. I love this book, it always amuses with its resemblance to an Audubon bird guide. I really found it invaluable in the beginning of my classic movie watching, when I didn’t know what his or her face was and only had to scan the types to figure out the difference between little girls Sharyn Moffett and Laurie Lee Michel, or nefarious guys Victor Francen and Paul Cavanaugh. Fun item to add to your reference library.