laughingrat: Young David Manners in costume for "The Tempest." (David Manners)
[personal profile] laughingrat
There are actors who, when they show up in a movie, cause one to groan inwardly, “Oh lord, not him.” For me, David Manners has always been one of those actors. Seeing him in Dracula* or The Mummy, I found him impossible to like: handsome, sure, but bleating, strident, poorly-timed, and cheesy. Is it any wonder the monsters held such fascination for the heroines, when David Manners was the only other option?

I couldn’t help but wonder if I was selling him short--can a person really build a Hollywood career out of being handsome but annoying?--so when it came time to do a [community profile] classicfilm post, I thought I’d check out a few of Manners’ other films and see what he was really made of.

David Manners in The Tempest, his first acting role. Image courtesy of

Manners got his start acting on stage, and made far more films than I’d initially realized. He retired from cinema early, eventually becoming an artist and author, and passed away in 1998. (You can check out a full bio, filmography, and other info at, a wonderful site assembled by a personal friend of Mr. Manners.) Through a cunning combination of library loans, YouTubery, and visits to the Internet Archive, one can actually see several of Mr. Manners' films, although some have not been issued for home viewing, and at least one is lost entirely.

The films, and where they are found )

FYI: Copyright is always a funny thing with the stuff that's up at YouTube--at least one other Manners film, Beauty and the Boss, seems to be available there, but in sections. However, upload restrictions and a desire to stay under the radar of copyright-violation hunters cause our intrepid content providers to do things like chop the films up into several segments, use partial titles, not use a cast list, and other things which may make them harder to find. Bearing this in mind when seeking one's favorite early sound pictures on YouTube may be of some use.

I thought this month's "work" watching some of David Manners' stuff would be a real slog, but instead, it was an education. I can honestly say I really like the guy now, and I feel like I got some more insight into a film era that I enjoy, but don't know a lot about. I hope at least a few people read this and opt to give a movie or two on the list a try!

Bonus image: David Manners and Katharine Hepburn in A Bill of Divorcement, included because it is charming. Image courtesy Dr. Macro.

*"David then asked me why I loved Dracula so. He went on to say, 'You know, I'm so awful in that film!'" --Dracula,


Classic Film: for the discussion of great cinema

July 2017

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