September 11th is Herbert Lom Day!

I've been sitting here trying to think of something entertaining to write for September 11th and having rather a rough time of it. It's not a good day for me… and yet rather than wallow in sorrow I want to find a reason to feel good, I want to celebrate something. Inspiration eluded me until I found out it was Herbert Lom's birthday.

Blonde on LomBorn into affluence as Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevic ze Schluderpacheru in Bohemia on this day in 1917, Lom only made a couple of Czech films after his debut in 1937, before relocating to England two years later. His intense bearing and diminutive stature got him cast as Napoleon Bonapart in Carol Reed's Young Mr. Pitt (1942), a film about the youngest Prime Minister in British history. Although Lom often played seedy connivers and backstabbers (and played the Hell out of them), he was at his best in slightly larger-than-life roles. Among his best remembered are as Napoleon again in War and Peace (1956), Herod in The Big Fisherman (1959), Captain Nemo in Mysterious Island (1961), the scarred title role in Hammer's The Phantom of the Opera (1962), Simon Legree in Géza Radványi's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1965) and vampire-smasher Abraham van Helsing in Jesus Franco's Count Dracula (1970), opposite Christopher Lee.

Lom in Night and the CityLom is best known for his recurring role as the harried and increasingly unhinged Paris police captain Charles Dreyfuss in the "Pink Panther movies starring Peter Sellers. Lom brought death to Richard Widmark in Jules Dassin's Night and the City (1950), was one of Ealing's The Lady Killers (1955) with Peter Sellers and Alec Guiness and turned up as memorable exotics in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960) and Anthony Mann's El Cid (1961) — oh, but the look on his bronzed Moorish mug when a dead Charlton Heston rides straight at him in the final battle. An atypically kindly, low boil sort of role for the actor was as a doctor aiding fledgling psychic Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone (1983), David Cronenberg's excellent adaptation of the novel by Stephen King.

Lom is The Phantom of the Opera

Lom was a childhood favorite of mine, most likely solely because of his slightly chuffed turns as Captain Nemo and The Phantom of the Opera… and yet he was excellent in everything he did. His entrances brought a smile even if his characters blew in on an ill wind. No one could look capable of causing more harm whilst wearing a bowtie. Wherever he is, Herbert Lom turns 90 today, bless his scoundrelous heart!

8 Responses September 11th is Herbert Lom Day!
Posted By Sigerson Holmes : September 11, 2007 5:38 am

Sure wish TCM could show "The Big Fisherman" letterboxed.  I don't think it's been seen on TV since the Disney Channel airings many years ago.  I hear there's an uncut stereo print at the Library of Congress, hint, hint.  Lom's portrayal  of "Herod Antipas" is one of the greats, up there with Jose Ferrer, Laughton, Plummer and Thring.

Posted By Sigerson Holmes : September 11, 2007 5:38 am

Sure wish TCM could show "The Big Fisherman" letterboxed.  I don't think it's been seen on TV since the Disney Channel airings many years ago.  I hear there's an uncut stereo print at the Library of Congress, hint, hint.  Lom's portrayal  of "Herod Antipas" is one of the greats, up there with Jose Ferrer, Laughton, Plummer and Thring.

Posted By MDR : September 11, 2007 8:10 am

Herbert Lom appears in the TCM premiere of The Dark Tower (1943) on 9/24, and again in The Seventh Veil (1945) during November.

Posted By MDR : September 11, 2007 8:10 am

Herbert Lom appears in the TCM premiere of The Dark Tower (1943) on 9/24, and again in The Seventh Veil (1945) during November.

Posted By Medusa : September 11, 2007 1:10 pm

I also was quite taken with him as a child because of his Phantom of the Opera.   It used to play on network TV and then ran a lot on afternoon movie showcases (in L.A., anyway, where we had several), though I haven't seen it in a long time. 90 years old!  Good for him!  Nice tribute to an stalwart performer!

Posted By Medusa : September 11, 2007 1:10 pm

I also was quite taken with him as a child because of his Phantom of the Opera.   It used to play on network TV and then ran a lot on afternoon movie showcases (in L.A., anyway, where we had several), though I haven't seen it in a long time. 90 years old!  Good for him!  Nice tribute to an stalwart performer!

Posted By josem : September 18, 2007 9:41 pm

Thanks for reminding us of Herbert Lom's great work. One question, why is 'El Cid" impossible to find on DVD and it never plays on TCM or any other cable channel. I remember liikng it when I saw it in re-relesase as kid.

Posted By josem : September 18, 2007 9:41 pm

Thanks for reminding us of Herbert Lom's great work. One question, why is 'El Cid" impossible to find on DVD and it never plays on TCM or any other cable channel. I remember liikng it when I saw it in re-relesase as kid.

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