[Ernest Thesiger portrait]

Ernest Thesiger

January 15, 1879 - January 14, 1961
Born in London, England, UK

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A Few Favorite Memories of Ernest Thesiger

The Old Dark House (1932), a black comedy-horror based on a novel by J. B. Priestley, directed by James Whale.
Thesiger plays waspish, sharp-tongued "Horace Femm," entertaining unwelcome guests and primly presiding over the necessary civilities in the dangerous, decaying household of a dying family.
With Boris Karloff (as the brutal mute butler, Morgan), Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, John Dudgeon (actress Elspeth Dudgeon as the ancient Sir Roderick Femm) and Brember Wills.
Makeup by Jack P. Pierce. Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.

The Ghoul (1933), a grim, atmospheric thriller based on the novel by Frank King, directed by T. Hayes Hunter.
Thesiger portrays "Laing," a dour Scottish servant who steals a sacred jewel, "The Eternal Light," from the hand of his dead master, unleashing terrible consequences.
With Boris Karloff (as Professor Morlant), Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Richardson, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony Bushell, Kathleen Harrison, Harold Huth, D.A. Clarke-Smith and Jack Raine.
Produced by Michael Balcon.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935), a black-comic horror masterpiece based on Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," directed by James Whale.
Thesiger is the quintessential mad scientist, "Dr. Septimus Pretorius," vastly amused by his work, fond of his weaknesses, and fearlessly looking forward to "New Worlds of Gods and Monsters."
Also starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson and Elsa Lanchester, with Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, Una O'Connor, E.E. Clive, Lucien Prival, O.P. Heggie, Dwight Frye, Reginald Barlow, Mary Gordon, Ann Darling, Ted Billings, Helen Parris, Robert Adair, Norman Ainsley, Billy Barty, Frank Benson, Maurice Black, Walter Brennan, Arthur S. Byron, John Carradine, D'Arcy Corrigan, Grace Cunard, John Curtis, J. Gunnis Davis, Kansas DeForrest, Elspeth Dudgeon, Helen Jerome Eddy, Neil Fitzgerald, Brenda Fowler, John George, Helen Gibson, Marilyn Harris, Rollo Lloyd, Josephine McKim, Torben Meyer, Edwin Mordant, Edward Peil Sr., Tempe Pigott, Sarah Schwartz, Peter Shaw, Mary Stewart, Frank Terry, Lucio Villegas and Joan Woodbury.
Featuring a stunning score by Franz Waxman, scintillating cinematography by John J. Mescall, gorgeous gothic art direction by Charles D. Hall, iconic makeup by Jack P. Pierce, and electrifying special effects by Ken Strickfaden, John P. Fulton and David S. Horsley. Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), a comic fantasy based on a script and original story by H. G. Wells, directed by Lothar Mendes.
Thesiger is the pacifist intellectual "Reverend Silas Maydig," one of many selfish advisors trying to manipulate the title character, a common man given magical ultimate power by the gods, and trying desperately not to make a mess of it.
Starring Roland Young, with Ralph Richardson, Edward Chapman, Joan Gardner, Sophie Stewart, Robert Cochran, Lady Tree, Laurence Hanray, George Zucco, Wally Lupino, Joan Hickson, Wally Patch, Mark Daly, George Sanders, Ivan Brandt, Torin Thatcher, Jane Baxter, Gertrude Musgrove, Bernard Nedell, Michael Rennie, Ben Welden and Bruce Winston.
Produced by Alexander Korda.

They Drive by Night (1938), a suspenseful action-thriller directed by Arthur B. Woods.
Thesiger plays "Walter Hoover," a devious silk-stocking strangler pretending to be a harmless amateur criminologist to disarm the lead character accused of the murders.
Starring Emlyn Williams and Anna Konstam, with Allan Jeayes, Anthony Holles, Ronald Shiner, Yolande Terrell, Julie Barrie, Kitty de Legh, William Hartnell, Joe Cunningham, William John Davies, Edgar Driver, Jennie Hartley, Brenda Harvey, George Merritt and Frederick Piper.
A personal favorite of the late-great film historian, William K. Everson, who discussed it at length in "More Classics of the Horror Film," his second of two exceptional studies specifically focused on horror films.

Henry V (1944), a historical epic based on Shakespeare's plays about Prince Hal / Henry V, starring and directed by Laurence Olivier.
Thesiger plays the Duke of Berri, a French ambassador under King Charles VI. Olivier is supported by familiar faces like Thesiger, Leslie Banks, Freda Jackson, Niall MacGinnis, Robert Newton, Felix Aylmer, Robert Helpmann, and many more.
The film is primarily about the events before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War. Oliver made this inspiring national epic to bolster morale in England during World War II.

A Place of One's Own (1945), an atmospheric psychological thriller based on Osbert Sitwell's novel, directed by Bernard Knowles.
It's about a middle-aged couple (Mason and Mullen) who buy an old country mansion haunted by the spirit of a murdered invalid, and their young companion (Lockwood) who becomes possessed by the dead girl's ghost.
Thesiger plays "Dr. Marsham," the elderly physician who attended the invalid girl forty years before the time of the story.
Margaret Lockwood and James Mason with Barbara Mullen are the leads, with Dennis Price, Helen Haye, Michael Shepley, Dulcie Gray, Moore Marriott, O.B. Clarence, Muriel George, Helen Goss, Henry B. Longhurst, Aubrey Mallalieu, Edie Martin, Gus McNaughton, John Turnbull and Clarence Wright.

The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947), a comical ghost story based on a novel by Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon, directed by Vernon Sewell.
The film centers on two retired British Army officers (Morley and Aylmer) who accidentally kill themselves and are sentenced by a Heavenly court to haunt their house until it is visited by reigning royalty. Two centuries of futile efforts ensue, with a long succession of tenants involved.
Thesiger plays an "Investigator" from the Psychical Research Society looking into the haunting. Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer are the ghosts, with fine support from Yvonne Arnaud, Claude Hulbert, Abraham Sofaer, Marie Lohr, Martita Hunt, A.E. Matthews, John Longden, Ronald Frankau, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Martin Miller, Wally Patch, Esme Percy, Mary Jerrold, Robert Beaumont, Madge Brindley, Strelsa Brown, Harry Fine, James Hayter, Gerhard Kempinski, Edward Lexy, Aubrey Mallalieu, Anthony Marlowe, Mary Martlew, J.H. Roberts and Tom Walls Jr.

The Man in the White Suit (1951), a satirical sci-fi fantasy about British Industry directed by Alexander Mackendrick.
The film concerns an obsessive inventor (Guinness) who develops a miracle fabric that never wears out and never gets dirty, creating havoc among the mill owners and laborers who will be put out of work by his invention.
Thesiger plays "Sir John Kierlaw," an ancient mill industry tycoon who heads the skullduggery to end the threat.
Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood, with Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Howard Marion-Crawford, Henry Mollison, Vida Hope, Patric Doonan, Duncan Lamont, Harold Goodwin, Colin Gordon, Joan Harben, Arthur Howard, Roddy Hughes, Stuart Latham, Miles Malleson and many other comical characters.
Produced by Ealing Studios, known for many other brilliant comedies such as the original Lavender Hill Mob with Alec Guinness.

A Christmas Carol, aka Scrooge (1951), based on Charles Dicken's classic story, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst.
As "The Undertaker," one of the human buzzards picking Ebenezer's pitiful bones in his frightening vision of Christmas Future. Alastair Sim's performance remains one of the best, with great support from a joyous cast including Mervyn Johns (Bob Cratchit), Kathleen Harrison, Hermione Baddeley, Michael Hordern (Marley's Ghost), George Cole, Francis De Wolff, Rona Anderson, Miles Malleson, Glyn Dearman (Tiny Tim), Michael Dolan, Roddy Hughes, Hattie Jacques, C. Konarski, Peter Bull, Douglas Muir and Patrick Macnee (Young Jacob Marley).

The Robe (1953), based on the book by Lloyd C. Douglas, directed by Henry Koster.
This first film made in Cinemascope is about the Roman tribune in charge of the detail that crucifies Christ. After winning Jesus's robe in a dice game, he is haunted and finally transformed by the experience.
Thesiger plays "Emperor Tiberius." Richard Burton is the tribune Marcellus Gallio, with an excellent supporting cast including Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson (Caligula), Dean Jagger, Torin Thatcher, Richard Boone (Pontius Pilate), Betta St. John , Jeff Morrow, Dawn Addams, Leon Askin, Michael Ansara (Judas), Frank DeKova, John Doucette, Sam Gilman, Percy Helton, George Keymas, Emmett Lynn, Mae Marsh, George Melford, Jay Novello, Ford Rainey, George E. Stone and Cameron Mitchell (uncredited as the voice of Jesus).

Go Back to BOOS WHO Classic Horror Players Directory List

Last revised August 22, 2005 by George "E-gor" Chastain.

Maintained by George "E-gor" Chastain (E-mail: chastain@mail.wvnet.edu)