Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Worthy Supporting Actor

Ken's post reminded me of another outstanding African-American actor, Mantan Moreland. Beginning in 1933, Moreland's career stretched over 100 films and several TV appearances before his death in 1973. Considered a major star –- or as much of one as an actor of color could be at the time –- his sophisticated, deceptively simple humor made him popular among both black and white audiences (although probably for different reasons). In the 1940's it was not unusual for him to receive top billing immediately beneath the white leads.

I’ve written before about what the uncurious miss –- and without the continual exposure to new things I receive from podcasts, I would have missed Mantan Moreland. One of the ClashTV.com’s podcast episodes was “King of the Zombies.” a 1941 “B” picture. It was competently filmed and acted and without Moreland would have been another pleasant but forgettable movie to watch.

Moreland’s running commentary on the action and witty asides made his performance practically leap off the screen -- raising the entire film several notches in my option. The highpoint of the picture were his scenes with Marguerite Whitten, an actress who also pushed the limits of what African-Americans were allowed to portray in film.

Click here for a sample of their by-play.

I’ll continue exploring Moreland’s work, now that I’m aware of him. Just another example of what’s out there -– if you’re curious.

- Ralph

No comments:

Post a Comment