Charles Lane - Rotten Tomatoes

Charles Lane

Highest Rated:   100% Sidewalk Stories (1989)
Lowest Rated:   14% Date with an Angel (1987)
Birthday:   Not Available
Birthplace:   Not Available
Hatchet-faced character actor Charles Lane has been one of the most instantly recognizable non-stars in Hollywood for more than half a century. Lane has been a familiar figure in movies (and, subsequently, on television) for 60 years, portraying crotchety, usually miserly, bad-tempered bankers and bureaucrats. Lane was born Charles Levison in San Francisco in 1899 (some sources give his year of birth as 1905). He learned the ropes of acting at the Pasadena Playhouse during the middle/late '20s, appearing in the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Noel Coward before going to Hollywood in 1930, just as sound was fully taking hold. He was a good choice for character roles, usually playing annoying types with his high-pitched voice and fidgety persona, encompassing everything from skinflint accountants to sly, fast-talking confidence men -- think of an abrasive version of Bud Abbott. His major early roles included the stage manager Max Jacobs in Twentieth Century and the tax assessor in You Can't Take It With You. One of the busier character men in Hollywood, Lane was a particular favorite of Frank Capra's, and he appeared in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, It's a Wonderful Life -- with a particularly important supporting part in the latter -- and State of the Union. He played in every kind of movie from screwball comedy like Ball of Fire to primordial film noir, such as I Wake Up Screaming. As Lane grew older, he tended toward more outrageously miserly parts, in movies and then on television, where he turned up Burns & Allen, I Love Lucy, and Dear Phoebe, among other series. Having successfully played a tight-fisted business manager hired by Ricky Ricardo to keep Lucy's spending in line in one episode of I Love Lucy (and, later, the U.S. border guard who nearly arrests the whole Ricardo clan and actor Charles Boyer at the Mexican border in an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour), Lane was a natural choice to play Lucille Ball's nemesis on The Lucy Show. Her first choice for the money-grubbing banker would have been Gale Gordon, but as he was already contractually committed to the series Dennis the Menace, she hired Lane to play Mr. Barnsdahl, the tight-fisted administrator of her late-husband's estate during the first season of the show. Lane left the series after Gordon became available to play the part of Mr. Mooney, but in short order he moved right into the part that came very close to making him a star. The CBS country comedy series Petticoat Junction needed a semi-regular villain and Lane just fit the bill as Homer Bedloe, the greedy, bad-tempered railroad executive whose career goal was to shut down the Cannonball railroad that served the town of Hooterville. He became so well-known in the role, which he only played once or twice a season, that at one point Lane found himself in demand for personal appearance tours. In later years, he also turned up in roles on The Beverly Hillbillies, playing Jane Hathaway's unscrupulous landlord, and did an excruciatingly funny appearance on The Odd Couple in the mid-'70s, playing a manic, greedy patron at the apartment sale being run by Felix and Oscar. Lane also did his share of straight dramatic roles, portraying such parts as Tony Randall's nastily officious IRS boss in the comedy The Mating Game (1959), the crusty River City town constable in The Music Man (1962) (which put Lane into the middle of a huge musical production number), the wryly cynical, impatient judge in the James Garner comedy film The Wheeler-Dealers (1963), and portraying Admiral William Standley in The Winds of War (1983), based on Herman Wouk's novel. He was still working right up until the late '80s, and David Letterman booked the actor to appear on his NBC late-night show during the middle of that decade, though his appearance on the program was somewhat disappointing and sad; the actor, who was instantly recognized by the studio audience, was then in his early nin

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
31% Posse
  • Weezie
1993
43% True Identity
  • Director
  • Duane
1991
100% Sidewalk Stories
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Artist
1989
14% Date with an Angel
  • Father O'Shea
1987
71% Murphy's Romance
  • Amos Abbott
1985
63% Strange Invaders
  • Prof. Hollister
1983
75% Strange Behavior
  • Donovan
1981
No Score Yet The Little Dragons
  • J.J.
1980
No Score Yet Movie Movie
  • Pennington
1978
No Score Yet Sybil
  • Dr. Quinoness
1976
No Score Yet Get to Know Your Rabbit
  • Mr. Beeman
1972
66% The Aristocats
  • Lawyer
1970
No Score Yet What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
  • Dr. Shapiro
1968
No Score Yet The Gnome-Mobile
  • Dr. Scroggins
1967
67% The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
  • Whitlow
1966
No Score Yet The Ugly Dachshund
  • Judge
1966
No Score Yet Billie
  • Coach Jones
1965
No Score Yet John Goldfarb, Please Come Home
  • Editor of `Strife'
1965
No Score Yet Good Neighbor Sam
  • Jack Bailey
1964
33% The Carpetbaggers
  • Denby
1964
75% It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  • Airport Manager
1963
No Score Yet Papa's Delicate Condition
  • Hiram Cosgrove
1963
94% The Music Man
  • Constable Locke
1962
No Score Yet But Not for Me
  • Al Atwood
1959
No Score Yet The Mating Game
  • Bigelow
1959
No Score Yet 30-Foot Bride of Candy Rock
  • Actor
1959
No Score Yet The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock
  • Standard Bates
1959
83% Teacher's Pet
  • Roy
1958
No Score Yet Top Secret Affair
  • Bill Hadley
1957
No Score Yet The Affairs of Dobie Gillis
  • Prof. Obispo
1953
No Score Yet The Juggler
  • Rosenberg
1953
83% The Sniper
  • Man
1952
No Score Yet Here Comes the Groom
  • Burchard
1951
No Score Yet I Can Get it For You Wholesale
  • Pulvermacher
1951
No Score Yet Riding High
  • Erickson
1950
No Score Yet Borderline
  • Peterson
1950
No Score Yet Miss Grant Takes Richmond
  • Woodruff
1949
No Score Yet Apartment for Peggy
  • Prof. Collins
1948
No Score Yet State of the Union
  • Blink Moran
1948
73% Call Northside 777
  • Prosecuting Attorney
1948
100% Moonrise
  • Man in Black
1948
No Score Yet Roses Are Red
  • Lipton
1947
No Score Yet It Happened on 5th Avenue
  • Landlord
1947
No Score Yet The Farmer's Daughter
  • Jackson
1947
94% It's a Wonderful Life
  • Real Estate Salesman
1946
No Score Yet Mysterious Intruder
  • Detective Burns
1946
No Score Yet A Close Call for Boston Blackie
  • Hack Hagen
1946
No Score Yet The Show-Off
  • Quiz Master
1946
88% Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Reporter
1944
100% Mr. Lucky
  • Comstock
1943
No Score Yet Pardon My Sarong
  • Superintendent
1942
No Score Yet They All Kissed the Bride
  • Spotter
1942
100% Tarzan's New York Adventure
  • Gould Beaton
1942
No Score Yet The Lady Is Willing
  • K.K. Miller
1942
No Score Yet Ride 'em Cowboy
  • Martin Manning
1942
63% Flying Tigers
  • Airport official
1942
No Score Yet Friendly Enemies
  • Braun
1942
No Score Yet Home in Wyomin'
  • Editor
1942
No Score Yet The Great Man's Lady
  • Pierce
1942
No Score Yet Look Who's Laughing
  • Club Secretary
1941
83% I Wake Up Screaming
  • Florist Keating
1941
No Score Yet Three Girls About Town
  • Mortician
1941
100% Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
  • Man
1941
No Score Yet Sis Hopkins
  • Rollo
1941
100% Ball of Fire
  • Larson
1941
No Score Yet The Invisible Woman
  • Growley
1940
80% City for Conquest
  • Al - Dance Team Manager
1940
No Score Yet Buck Benny Rides Again
  • Charlie Graham
1940
80% Edison, the Man
  • Second Lecturer
1940
No Score Yet The Doctor Takes a Wife
  • Reporter
1940
No Score Yet Johnny Apollo
  • Assistant District Attorney
1940
No Score Yet It's a Date
  • Horner
1940
No Score Yet Primrose Path
  • Mr. 'Smitty' Smith / Hawkins (uncredited)
1940
No Score Yet You Can't Fool Your Wife
  • Salesman
1940
No Score Yet Rhythm on the River
  • Mr. Bernard Schwartz
1940
No Score Yet Texas Rangers Ride Again
  • Train Passenger
1940
No Score Yet The Cat and the Canary
  • Reporter
1939
94% Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Nosey
1939
No Score Yet Golden Boy
  • Drake
1939
No Score Yet Fifth Avenue Girl
  • Labor Representative
1939
No Score Yet Rose of Washington Square
  • Sam Kress
1939
No Score Yet Lucky Night
  • Carpenter
1939
No Score Yet Honeymoon in Bali
  • Photographer
1939
No Score Yet Kentucky
  • Auctioneer
1938
No Score Yet Three Loves Has Nancy
  • Manager of Cleaning Establishment
1938
91% You Can't Take It With You
  • Henderson
1938
No Score Yet Professor Beware
  • Joe the Photographer
1938
No Score Yet The Rage of Paris
  • Department Head
1938
No Score Yet Joy of Living
  • Dress Extra
1938
No Score Yet Ali Baba Goes to Town
  • Doctor
1937
No Score Yet The Crime of Dr. Forbes
  • Defense Attorney
1937
No Score Yet Internes Can't Take Money (You Can't Take Money)
  • Grote
1937
67% In Old Chicago
  • Booking Agent
1937
No Score Yet Three Men on a Horse
  • Cleaner
1936
No Score Yet Easy to Take
  • Reporter
1936
No Score Yet Ticket to Paradise
  • Shyster
1936
89% Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  • Hallor
1936
No Score Yet The Milky Way
  • Willard, reporter
1936
No Score Yet Advice to the Lovelorn
  • Circulation Manager
1935
88% Twentieth Century
  • Max Jacobs
1934
No Score Yet My Woman
  • Agent
1933
No Score Yet Man Killer
  • Process Server
1933
100% Gold Diggers of 1933
  • Society Reporter
1933
No Score Yet Grand Slam
  • Ivan
1933
95% 42nd Street
  • An Author
1933
No Score Yet The Bowery
  • Doctor
1933
No Score Yet The Mouthpiece
  • Desk Clerk
1932
No Score Yet Smart Money
  • Desk Clerk
1931
No Score Yet Blonde Crazy
  • Four-Eyes, the Desk Clerk
1931
No Score Yet The Canary Murder Case
  • Charles Spotswoode
1929
83% Sadie Thompson
  • Dr. McPhail
1928
No Score Yet The Winning of Barbara Worth
  • Jefferson Worth
1926
No Score Yet The White Sister
  • Prince Chiaromonte
1923
92% Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Dr. Richard Lanyon
1920

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
No Score Yet Little House on the Prairie
1974-1984
  • Jess Moffet
The Twilight Zone
1959-1964
  • Peckinpaugh

Quotes from Charles Lane's Characters