Boris Karloff - Rotten Tomatoes

Boris Karloff

Highest Rated:   100% The House of Rothschild (2000)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Camberwell, London, England, UK
The long-reigning king of Hollywood horror, Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887, in South London. The youngest of nine children, he was educated at London University in preparation for a career as a diplomat. However, in 1909, he emigrated to Canada to accept a job on a farm, and while living in Ontario he began pursuing acting, joining a touring company and adopting the stage name Boris Karloff. His first role was as an elderly man in a production of Molnar's The Devil, and for the next decade Karloff toiled in obscurity, traveling across North America in a variety of theatrical troupes. By 1919, he was living in Los Angeles, unemployed and considering a move into vaudeville, when instead he found regular work as an extra at Universal Studios. Karloff's first role of note was in 1919's His Majesty the American, and his first sizable part came in The Deadlier Sex a year later. Still, while he worked prolifically, his tenure in the silents was undistinguished, although it allowed him to hone his skills as a consummate screen villain.Karloff's first sound-era role was in the 1929 melodrama The Unholy Night, but he continued to languish without any kind of notice, remaining so anonymous even within the film industry itself that Picturegoer magazine credited 1931's The Criminal Code as his first film performance. The picture, a Columbia production, became his first significant hit, and soon Karloff was an in-demand character actor in projects ranging from the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy Cracked Nuts to the Edward G. Robinson vehicle Five Star Final to the serial adventure King of the Wild. Meanwhile, at Universal Studios, plans were underway to adapt the Mary Shelley classic Frankenstein in the wake of the studio's massive Bela Lugosi hit Dracula. Lugosi, however, rejected the role of the monster, opting instead to attach his name to a project titled Quasimodo which ultimately went unproduced. Karloff, on the Universal lot shooting 1931's Graft, was soon tapped by director James Whale to replace Lugosi as Dr. Frankenstein's monstrous creation, and with the aid of the studio's makeup and effects unit, he entered into his definitive role, becoming an overnight superstar. Touted as the natural successor to Lon Chaney, Karloff was signed by Universal to a seven-year contract, but first he needed to fulfill his prior commitments and exited to appear in films including the Howard Hawks classic Scarface and Business or Pleasure. Upon returning to the Universal stable, he portrayed himself in 1932's The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood before starring as a nightclub owner in Night World. However, Karloff soon reverted to type, starring in the title role in 1932's The Mummy, followed by a turn as a deaf-mute killer in Whale's superb The Old Dark House. On loan to MGM, he essayed the titular evildoer in The Mask of Fu Manchu, but on his return to Universal he demanded a bigger salary, at which point the studio dropped him. Karloff then journeyed back to Britain, where he starred in 1933's The Ghoul, before coming back to Hollywood to appear in John Ford's 1934 effort The Lost Patrol. After making amends with Universal, he co-starred with Lugosi in The Black Cat, the first of several pairings for the two actors, and in 1936 he starred in the stellar sequel The Bride of Frankenstein. Karloff spent the remainder of the 1930s continuing to work at an incredible pace, but the quality of his films, the vast majority of them B-list productions, began to taper off dramatically. Finally, in 1941, he began a three-year theatrical run in Arsenic and Old Lace before returning to Hollywood to star in the A-list production The Climax. Again, however, Karloff soon found himself consigned to Poverty Row efforts, such as 1945's The House of Frankenstein. He also found himself at RKO under Val Lewton's legendary horror unit. A few of his films were more distinguished -- he appeared in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Unconquered, and

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Climax
  • Actor
2013
No Score Yet Dracula/frankenstein Double Feature
  • Actor
2012
No Score Yet Extreme Fairy Tales - Featuring the Emperor's Nightingale
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet The Black Room
  • Baron Gregor de Berghmann
2003
No Score Yet Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff
  • Swami Talpur
2003
No Score Yet Heroes of Horror
  • Actor
2001
100% The House of Rothschild
  • Count Ledrantz
2000
No Score Yet Transylvania Twist
  • Himself
1989
No Score Yet Monsters and Maniacs
  • Actor
1988
No Score Yet Blood Flood
  • Actor
1974
No Score Yet The Fear Chamber (Torture Zone) (The Torture Chamber)
  • Actor
1972
No Score Yet Curse of the Crimson Altar
  • Prof. Marshe
1970
No Score Yet Alien Terror
  • Prof. John Mayer
1969
No Score Yet Snake People
  • Carl van Molder / Damballah
1968
No Score Yet Dance of Death
  • Actor
1968
88% Targets
  • Byron Orlok
1968
No Score Yet Dance of Death
  • Actor
1968
No Score Yet Torture Zone
  • Actor
1968
No Score Yet The Venetian Affair
  • Dr. Pierre Vaugiroud
1967
100% How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Narrator/The Grinch
1967
No Score Yet Mondo Balordo
  • Actor
1967
70% Mad Monster Party
  • Baron Boris von Frankenstein
1967
100% The Sorcerers
  • Prof. Marcus Monserrat
1967
No Score Yet Cauldron of Blood
  • Franz Badulescu
1967
No Score Yet The Daydreamer
  • The Rat
1966
No Score Yet Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
  • The Corpse
1966
71% Die, Monster, Die!
  • Nahum Witley
1965
No Score Yet Bikini Beach
  • Actor
1964
88% The Comedy of Terrors
  • Amos Hinchley
1964
No Score Yet Mondo Balordo
  • Actor
1964
36% The Terror (The Haunting) (The Castle of Terror)
  • Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe
1963
No Score Yet Corridors of Blood
  • Dr. Thomas Bolton
1963
87% Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror)
  • Himself/Gorca
1963
92% The Raven
  • Dr. Scarabus
1963
No Score Yet Frankenstein - 1970
  • Baron Victor von Frankenstein
1958
No Score Yet Grip of the Strangler (The Haunted Strangler)
  • James Rankin
1958
No Score Yet Destination Nightmare
  • Actor
1958
No Score Yet Jack the Ripper
  • Actor
1958
No Score Yet Veil
  • Actor
1958
No Score Yet Voodoo Island
  • Phillip Knight
1957
No Score Yet Il mostro dell'isola (The Island Monster)
  • Don Gaetano
1954
63% Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Dr. Henry Jekyll
1953
No Score Yet Sabaka
  • Gen. Pollegar
1953
No Score Yet The Black Castle
  • Dr. Meissen
1952
No Score Yet The Strange Door
  • Voltan
1951
No Score Yet Golden Age of TV Dramas
  • Actor
1951
No Score Yet Tap Roots
  • Tishomingo
1948
No Score Yet Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (Dick Tracy Meets Karloff)(Dick Tracy's Amazing Adventure)
  • Gruesome
1947
No Score Yet Unconquered
  • Guyasuta - Chief of the Senecas
1947
83% The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Dr. Hollingshead
1947
100% Lured
  • Artist
1947
86% Isle of the Dead
  • Gen. Nikolas Pherides
1945
81% The Body Snatcher
  • Cabman John Gray
1945
No Score Yet The Climax
  • Dr. Hohner
1944
55% House of Frankenstein
  • Dr. Gustav Niemann
1944
No Score Yet The Boogie Man Will Get You
  • Prof. Nathaniel Billings
1942
No Score Yet The Devil Commands
  • Dr. Julian Blair
1941
No Score Yet You'll Find Out (Here Come the Boogie Men)
  • Judge Spencer Mainwaring
1940
40% The Ape
  • Dr. Bernard Adrian
1940
No Score Yet Before I Hang
  • Dr. John Garth
1940
No Score Yet Doomed to Die
  • James Lee Wong
1940
No Score Yet The Man with Nine Lives
  • Dr. Leon Kravaal
1940
No Score Yet British Intelligence
  • Valdar
1940
No Score Yet The Fatal Hour
  • James Lee Wong
1940
No Score Yet Tower of London
  • Mord the Executioner
1939
80% The Man They Could Not Hang
  • Dr. Henryk Savaard
1939
No Score Yet Mr. Wong in Chinatown
  • James Lee Wong
1939
No Score Yet Mystery of Mr. Wong
  • Actor
1939
No Score Yet Devil's Island
  • Dr. Charles Gaudet
1939
91% Son of Frankenstein
  • The Monster
1939
No Score Yet The Mystery of Mr. Wong
  • James Lee Wong
1939
No Score Yet Mr. Wong, Detective
  • Mr. James lee Wong
1938
No Score Yet West of Shanghai
  • Gen. Wu Yen Fang
1937
No Score Yet Charlie Chan at the Olympics
  • Gravelle
1937
No Score Yet Night Key
  • David Mallory
1937
No Score Yet The Man Who Changed His Mind
  • Dr. Laurience
1936
No Score Yet Charlie Chan at the Opera
  • Gravelle
1936
No Score Yet The Walking Dead
  • John Ellman
1936
63% The Invisible Ray
  • Dr. Janos Rukh
1936
No Score Yet Juggernaut
  • Dr. Victor Sartorius
1936
100% The Raven
  • Edmond Bateman
1935
100% The Bride of Frankenstein
  • The Monster
1935
No Score Yet Black Friday
  • Actor
1934
No Score Yet Gift of Gab
  • Cameo Appearance
1934
100% The Lost Patrol
  • Sanders
1934
87% The Black Cat
  • Hjalmar Poelzig
1934
No Score Yet The Ghoul
  • Prof. Henry Morlant
1933
93% The Mummy
  • Ardath Bey
1932
No Score Yet Night World
  • "Happy" MacDonald
1932
100% Scarface
  • Gaffney
1932
No Score Yet The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood
  • Actor
1932
88% The Mask of Fu Manchu
  • Dr. Fu Manchu
1932
100% The Old Dark House
  • Morgan
1932
No Score Yet Tonight or Never
  • The Waiter
1931
100% Frankenstein
  • The Monster
1931
No Score Yet The Guilty Generation
  • Tony Ricca
1931
No Score Yet The Mad Genius
  • Fedor's Father
1931
91% Five Star Final
  • `Reverend' Vernon Isopod
1931
No Score Yet I Like Your Nerve
  • Luigi
1931
No Score Yet Pardon Us
  • The Tiger (in French version only)
1931
No Score Yet Smart Money
  • Sport Williams
1931
No Score Yet Cracked Nuts
  • First Revolutionary
1931
No Score Yet The Criminal Code
  • Ned Galloway
1931
No Score Yet Mother's Cry
  • Murder Victim
1930
No Score Yet The Sea Bat
  • Corsican
1930
No Score Yet Behind That Curtain
  • Manservant
1929
No Score Yet King of the Kongo
  • Actor
1929
No Score Yet Two Arabian Knights
  • Purser
1927
No Score Yet Tarzan and the Golden Lion
  • Chief of the Waziri
1927
No Score Yet The Bells
  • Actor
1926
No Score Yet The Nickel Hopper
  • Dance Hall Masher
1926
No Score Yet Old Ironsides
  • A Saracen Guard
1926
No Score Yet Dynamite Dan
  • Tony
1924
No Score Yet The Last of the Mohicans
  • Actor
1920
No Score Yet His Majesty the American
  • Actor
1919

Quotes from Boris Karloff's Characters