Friday Favorites: John Carradine

Here’s a name that is one of the icons of acting, not to mention in the horror genre. Sure, most remember him from all the cheesy and low-budget titles that he appeared in, especially in his later years, but he was always delivering a fine performance. I mean, think about that for a minute. He appeared in Ted V. Mikels Astro Zombies, which I happen to love, and learned all this technical dialogue for his role of the mad doctor, and gave the performance if he was doing Shakespeare.

The man started working on the stage in 1925, often appearing in the works of Shakespeare. In fact, he was known as the Bard of Boulevard because it was not uncommon for him to see seen wandering up and down Hollywood Boulevard spouting the lines from the great playwright. He is credited for more than 350 film and TV appearances in his career, something that very few could claim. Sure, some of those were pretty bad, but not all. In fact, he was quoted saying “I’ve made some of the greatest films ever made … and a lot of crap, too.” But he was dedicated to the craft, no matter the budget. And always a treat to watch.

I think my first experience with Carradine was actually on a TV show back in the late ’70s, a cop show called McCloud, starring Dennis Weaver as a Marshall from Texas that ends up working with the NYPD. In one episode, there seems to be a vampire on the loose, which is played by none other Mr. Carradine! He is actually playing a famous actor who is known for his roles in the movies as a vampire, but just may be a real one! His manservant is even played by Reggie Nalder, no less! Not sure if I had seen him before on some afternoon matinee but this was the time I started to remember him and have enjoyed his work ever since.

I think he made a great vampire in House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), and plenty of other appearances in those old black and white classics. But I also really enjoyed his performance of the sea captain in Shock Waves (1977) or the cranky old man in Joe Dante’s The Howling (1981). No matter what he appeared in, no matter how brief, it always brought up the production a little bit.

For this Friday Favorites, what are some of your favorite appearances of Mr. Carradine?

7 thoughts on “Friday Favorites: John Carradine

  1. While I have enjoyed John Carradine in both “House of Frankenstein” and “House of Dracula”, the two films I have admired most From this prolific actor are his roles in “The Night Strangler” (1973) and “Shock Waves” (1977).

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    • That is one of the things I loved about Carradine, that he was always popping up in other things, whether it be TV shows or little roles in movies. I had almost forgot about him being in Night Strangler! But since Shock Waves is a favorite of mine, I think it is great in there playing the old salty sea captain.

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  2. I just recently saw his performances of Dracula in House of Dracula & House of Frankenstein and he was very good as the count in both. It was a bit part but I loved “The Sentinel” and hearing him sing last train to Mundo Fine (?) was a blast in Red Zone Cuba. Overall though, most of his roles that I have seen him in he has been in shlocky movies, but generally performed with such professionalism. Don’t think I ever saw him phone it in. Even in bad movies like The Unearthly.

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    • That is the one thing that I like about Carradine in that he always delivers a good (or at least fun) performance. I’ve seen other actors in low budget films literally just stand there and barely say there lines. But not Carradine, even though he knew what kind of film it was.

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  3. The Howling and Shock Waves would be tops for me as well. Like you said, though, John’s been in so much stuff and his characters are always memorable even if the rest of the production may not be! Lol! I haven’t seen House of Dracula or House of Frankenstein but they’re on the list.

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