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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


H.B. WarnerH.B. WARNER (1875-1958), born Harry Byron Warner, is someone every classic movie fan should know. If you've ever seen Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, then you've seen H.B. Warner. He played Mr. Gower, the druggist. He was a favorite of Capra's and Capra put Warner in several of his films. H.B. Warner was born in England, into a theatrical family. Both his father and his father's father were famous actors. He made his debut on stage at the age of seven in Drink. H.B. Warner liked the theatre so much that later, he left medical school to study acting in France and Italy. After that, he joined his father's stock company. After learning much from his father and touring throughout England, he came to America. He made his Broadway debut in Audrey at Hoyt's Theatre. He was billed as Harry Warner. It was in his next Broadway production in 1906, Nurse Marjorie, that he changed his name to H.B. Warner. After thirteen more Broadway productions, he turned to films in 1914. By 1927, he had become a star of silent movies and was cast by Cecil B. Demille in King of Kings as Jesus. I have to say that H.B. Warner's portrayal of Jesus is the best I've ever seen. King of Kings is an excellent film and if you aren't familiar with that many silent pictures, this is an excellent place to start viewing them. Warner's depiction of Jesus is very moving, if not more so, because he doesn't speak. Despite Warner no longer being a leading man when he moved on to talkies, he excelled in speaking roles. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1937 for his role of Chang in Lost Horizon. His portrayal of Mr. Gower in It's a Wonderful Life should have earned him at least a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This was a well-developed character part.

The King of Kings (1927)
Haven't you seen The King of Kings (1927)? He plays Jesus, the Christ so well that I think only of Jesus, not an actor portraying Jesus. I love seeing Jesus with the children best of all.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) [aka: Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (USA: complete title)] He plays Mr. Emil Gower. This is my favorite film of all time.
Lost Horizon (1937) [aka: Lost Horizon of Shangri-La (USA: TV title)] He plays Chang and does an excellent job.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) Here, he plays Judge May. This is another of my favorite Warner roles.
The Ten Commandments (1956) He plays Amminadab.

*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Wed, Oct 4 2006 / 07:24:28 PST

Academy Awards®
© A.M.P.A.S.®
1937 Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: LOST HORIZON