Monday, July 17, 2006


Here is Sinister Cinema's second set of "top 10s." This time we're covering the top supporting actors’ performances in horror films from the ‘30s and ‘40s. As with our previous listings, this is purely subjective on our part, strictly our opinion of what performances were the best. In compiling these two lists, the main problem encountered was determining exactly which were supporting roles and which were not. For instance, Boris Karloff's role in "Tower of London" is clearly a supporting role, yet he and Basil Rathbone are given top billing. Contrastly, one could reasonably argue that Bela Lugosi's performance in "Son of Frankenstein" was a supporting role, yet we listed it in the top performances by a lead actor for the '30s. Lugosi certainly didn't receive top billing, yet his performance I felt was large enough and certainly powerful enough to be considered a lead. The same can be said about Lionel Atwill's performance in the same film, which was also listed as a leading performance. Frankly, there were a lot of performances on both sets of top ten lists that could have gone either way. The 1930s were filled with a lot of fine supporting performances and it was indeed difficult trying to rank them. Some might be surprised to find my listing of both Humphrey Bogart and John Litel from "The Return of Dr. X." Although the film doesn't have that good of a reputation, I have always thought that both of these actors were outstanding in what I consider to be a very underrated B horror gem. A couple of other surprises might by Irving Pichel in "Dracula's Daughter" and Georges Renavent in "East of Borneo." Both of these performances never really get their just due. Elsewhere, there were three actors who pretty much dominated the proceedings: Dwight Frye, Ernest Thesiger, and Edward Van Sloan. The 1940s seemed to be a little more difficult, simply because there just weren't as many solid performances to pick from. Victor Francen, though, was a real standout in "The Beast With Five Fingers." As before, we’d love to hear your feedback on these lists. Please…send us your own top ten lists or write a separate article. More top ten lists to come in the near future.

Greg Luce,
Sinister Cinema.

Ten Greatest Performances by a Supporting Actor in a Horror Film from the 1930s

1. Dwight Frye in DRACULA
2. Ernest Thesiger in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
3. Edward Van Sloan in DRACULA
4. Warner Oland in WEREWOLF OF LONDON
5. Humphrey Bogart in RETURN OF DR. X
6. Dwight Frye in FRANKENSTEIN
7. Georges Renavent in EAST OF BORNEO
8. Irving Pichel in DRACULA’S DAUGHTER
9. Boris Karloff in TOWER OF LONDON
10. Wilfred Walter in DARK EYES OF LONDON

Honorable mention: Edmund Gwen in THE WALKING DEAD, Vincent Price in TOWER OF LONDON, Ernest Thesiger in THE GHOUL, THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, and THE OLD DARK HOUSE, Bela Lugosi in ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, John Litel in RETURN OF DR. X, Samuel S. Hinds in THE RAVEN, Edward Van Sloan in FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY, Cedric Hardewicke in THE GHOUL and HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, Dwight Frye in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Noble Johnson in KING KONG.

Ten Greatest Performances by a Supporting Actor in a Horror Film from the 1940s

3. Wallace Ford in THE MUMMY’S HAND
4. Charles Middleton in STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP
5. Nils Aster in NIGHT MONSTER
6. John Carradine in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN
8. Ralph Morgan in THE MONSTER MAKER
9. Donald Crisp in THE UNINVITED
10. John Carradine in THE MUMMY’S GHOST

Honorable mention: Bela Lugosi in THE WOLFMAN, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and THE BODY SNATCHER, Billy House in BEDLAM, J. Edward Bromberg in SON OF DRACULA, Wilfred Lawson in THE NIGHT HAS EYES, Lionel Atwill in THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX, Dwight Frye in DEAD MEN WALK, Ludwig Stossel in BLUEBEARD.