08 May 2016

Who Is That? Raymond Huntley

Fans of British films of the classic era will recognize this ubiquitous face -- Raymond Huntley. Indeed, sometimes it seems like he's in every single English movie ! Born in 1904, he had a London stage success in a version of Dracula in 1927, playing the title role. But such flamboyant characters would not be his specialty. His first significant film role was in Rembrandt (1936), starring Charles Laughton. And from then on he seemed to show up every place you looked, from befuddled Nazis in Night Train to Munich and Pimpernel Smith, to postwar dramas like When We Are Married and I See a Dark Stranger, his tall, aristocratic figure and aquiline profile was everywhere.
In Pimpernel Smith with Francis Sullivan and Mary Morris
His typical upper-class appearance and voice made him particularly effective in The Way Ahead, a wonderful wartime look at an ill-assorted group of draftees (which included Stanley Holloway, John Laurie, and James Donald), and how they learned to accept each other's ways and form an efficient fighting unit. It's fun to see Huntley's rather snooty character join in and sing "Roll Out the Barrel" with the rest of the gang during a night at the music hall.
After the war, there was a place for him in a
With fellow soldiers in The Way Ahead
huge range of films; he's a standout in Passport to Pimlico, as a banker who suddenly discovers his heart, in The Dam Busters, as a top scientist at the testing lab; in Wee Geordie, as an Olympic official. Look at practically any memorable British film from the 50s band 60s and Raymond Huntley is there: The Green Man, Our Man in Havana, Hobson's Choice, Doctor At Sea, Room At the Top, I'm All Right, Jack, you name it.
You will also see him in innumerablef television performances, from an excellent, very early BBC
Dickens production, Barnaby Rudge (which is highly recommended, and also has a brilliant performance from a very young John Wood), through comedies like Hancock's Half Hour, dozens of
classic plays, and popular seriex like Crown Court, and eventually Upstairs, Downstairs, where he played family lawyer Sir Geoffrey Dillon.
A British actor has a certain advantage in that almost all production is centered in London, so someone like
In Upstairs, Downstairs
Raymond Huntley could combine film, stage, and television performances throughout his long career.
For an actor who wanted to act it seems like a great life.