Donald Crisp

Donald Crisp

  • Highest Rated: 100% The Man From Laramie (1955)
  • Lowest Rated: 65% Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
  • Birthday: Invalid date
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • If Donald Crisp had any peer as an actor, it was probably his fellow Scotsman Finlay Currie, who made a virtual star career (albeit mostly in England) playing the same kind of dour roles that Crisp often essayed -- but even that only overlapped with one aspect of Crisp's career. An Oscar-winning character actor whose career spanned three generations, from the 1910s to the 1960s, Crisp was also unique as a director and, before that, an assistant and colleague to such figures as D.W. Griffith -- and none of those activities even touched upon his most influential role in the movie business. Donald Crisp was born in Abberfeldy, Scotland, in 1880, and was educated at Oxford. He served as a trooper in the 10th Hussars in the Boer War, which allowed him to cross paths with a young Winston Churchill, before emigrating to the United States in 1906. While on the boat coming over, he chanced to sing in a ship's concert and impressed John C. Fisher, an opera impresario, sufficiently to offer him a job with his company as both a member of the chorus and a handyman. It was while touring with the company in the United States and Cuba that Crisp became interested in theater. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, he was working as a stage manager for George M. Cohan, and soon after that he met D.W. Griffith, a former stage actor who had developed a yen for making movies; Crisp accompanied the legendary director to Hollywood in 1912. After serving as Griffith's assistant and watching him work, Crisp -- who portrayed General Ulysses S. Grant in The Birth of a Nation -- became a director in his own right. He later told an interviewer that he gave up directing because he wearied of being forced to do favors for studio production chiefs by employing their relatives in his films, so he returned to acting. In between working for Griffith and producers such as William H. Clune, Crisp managed to return to England to serve in army intelligence during the First World War. After returning to Hollywood, he went to work for Adolph Zukor at his Famous Players company in 1919, which was later to become Paramount Pictures; Zukor employed Crisp as an executive, charged with setting up the studio's operations in Europe. He later worked as a director for Douglas Fairbanks Sr. on such movies as Son of Zorro. Crisp's most visible role to the public during the silent era, however, may well have come right after his military service, as the brutal villain in Griffith's Broken Blossoms (1919). With the advent of sound, Crisp moved into acting entirely, and across the 1930s and '40s he essayed a wide range of roles, most memorably as the taciturn but loving father in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941) (for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award), one of the put-upon crew in Frank Lloyd's Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and Doctor Kenneth in William Wyler's Wuthering Heights (1939). Crisp was equally good in lovable or sinister roles; during the same period in which he was playing charming old codgers in National Velvet and Lassie Come Home, he was also memorable as Commander Beach, the tormented presumptive grandfather to Gail Russell's Stella Meredith in Lewis Allen's The Uninvited (1944), who dies at the hands of the vengeful spirit of his own daughter. All of this activity, which included as many as nine movies in a single year, didn't prevent Crisp from contributing to the war effort, once the Second World War came along -- by then, he held the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army reserves. What few people outside of the movie community realized during this period was that, beyond his work as an actor, Crisp was also one of the most influential people in Hollywood, wielding more power than most directors and even more than many producers (most of whom were, in the end, just hired executives). He was one of Hollywood's gatekeepers, one of the responsible adults who worked to make the business side of the industry work while stars of the

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

No Score Yet Spencer's Mountain Grandpa Spencer 1963
No Score Yet Greyfriars Bobby James Brown 1961
85% Pollyanna Mayor Karl Warren 1960
No Score Yet A Dog of Flanders Jehan Daas 1959
No Score Yet Saddle the Wind Dennis Deneen 1958
92% The Last Hurrah The Cardinal 1958
No Score Yet Drango Allen 1957
100% The Man From Laramie Alec Waggoman 1955
100% The Long Gray Line Old Martin 1955
No Score Yet Prince Valiant King Aguar 1954
No Score Yet Home Town Story John MacFarland 1951
No Score Yet Bright Leaf Maj. James Singleton 1950
No Score Yet Challenge to Lassie Jock Gray 1949
No Score Yet Whispering Smith Barney Rebstock 1948
No Score Yet Hills of Home Drumsheugh 1948
No Score Yet The Valley of Decision William Scott 1945
No Score Yet Son of Lassie Sam Curraclough 1945
100% National Velvet Mr. Brown 1944
No Score Yet The Adventures of Mark Twain J.B. Pond 1944
95% The Uninvited Cdr. Bench 1944
94% Lassie Come Home Sam Carraclough 1943
No Score Yet Forever and a Day Capt. Martin 1943
No Score Yet The Gay Sisters Ralph Pedloch 1942
No Score Yet The Battle of Midway Actor 1942
65% Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Sir Charles Emery 1941
91% How Green Was My Valley Mr. Morgan 1941
No Score Yet Shining Victory Dr. Drewett 1941
80% City for Conquest Scotty MacPherson 1940
100% The Sea Hawk Sir John Burleson 1940
No Score Yet Brother Orchid Brother Superior 1940
86% Knute Rockne---All American Father John Callahan 1940
No Score Yet Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet Althoff 1940
71% The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Francis Bacon 1939
No Score Yet The Old Maid Dr. Lanskell 1939
No Score Yet Juarez Marechal Bazaine 1939
95% Wuthering Heights Dr. Kenneth 1939
No Score Yet The Oklahoma Kid Judge Hardwick 1939
No Score Yet The Dawn Patrol Phills 1938
No Score Yet The Sisters Tim Hazleton 1938
No Score Yet The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse Inspector Lane 1938
No Score Yet The Beloved Brat Mr. John Morgan 1938
94% Jezebel Dr. Livingstone 1938
No Score Yet Sergeant Murphy Col. Carruthers 1938
77% The Life of Emile Zola Maitre Labori 1937
No Score Yet That Certain Woman Mr. Merrick 1937
No Score Yet Parnell Michael Davitt 1937
No Score Yet Beloved Enemy Burke 1937
No Score Yet The Great O'Malley Capt. Cromwell 1937
No Score Yet A Woman Rebels Judge Thistlewaite 1936
No Score Yet Mary of Scotland Huntley 1936
71% Charge of the Light Brigade Col. Campbell 1936
94% Mutiny on the Bounty Burkitt 1935
No Score Yet Oil for the Lamps of China MacCargar 1935
No Score Yet Vanessa, Her Love Story George 1935
No Score Yet The Little Minister Dr. McQueen 1934
No Score Yet What Every Woman Knows David Wylie 1934
No Score Yet The Key Conlan 1934
No Score Yet The Crime Doctor District Attorney 1934
100% Red Dust Guidon 1932
83% Svengali The Laird 1931
No Score Yet The Runaway Bride Director 1930
No Score Yet Ramrod Sheriff Jim Crew 1930
No Score Yet The Pagan Slater 1929
No Score Yet The Viking Leif Eriksson 1928
No Score Yet The River Pirate Caxton 1928
No Score Yet Fighting Eagle Director 1927
100% The Black Pirate MacTavish 1926
No Score Yet Young April Director 1926
No Score Yet Don Q Son of Zorro Don Sebastian Director 1925
100% The Navigator Director 1924
No Score Yet Barbarian Director 1921
95% Broken Blossoms Battling Burrows 1919
No Score Yet Johnny Get Your Gun Director 1919
No Score Yet Joan the Woman Actor 1916
97% Intolerance Extra 1916
98% The Birth of a Nation Gen. U.S. Grant 1915
No Score Yet The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' Actor 1914
No Score Yet The Battle of the Sexes Actor 1914
No Score Yet Home Sweet Home Her Son 1914
No Score Yet The Musketeers of Pig Alley Actor 1912

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