Donald Crisp - Rotten Tomatoes

Donald Crisp

Highest Rated:   100% The Man From Laramie (1955)
Lowest Rated:   65% Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Birthday:  
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

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Spencer's Mountain
  • Grandpa Spencer
1963
No Score Yet Greyfriars Bobby
  • James Brown
1961
83% Pollyanna
  • Mayor Karl Warren
1960
No Score Yet A Dog of Flanders
  • Jehan Daas
1959
No Score Yet Saddle the Wind
  • Dennis Deneen
1958
89% 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 James Stewart Mix
  • Actor
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
94% 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
90% How Green Was My Valley
  • Mr. Morgan
1941
80% City for Conquest
  • Scotty MacPherson
1940
100% The Sea Hawk
  • Sir John Burleson
1940
No Score Yet Brother Orchid
  • Brother Superior
1940
83% 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
100% 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
75% 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
83% Charge of the Light Brigade
  • Col. Campbell
1936
94% Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Burkitt
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
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 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
100% 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 Home Sweet Home
  • Her Son
1914
No Score Yet The Musketeers of Pig Alley
  • Actor
1912

Quotes from Donald Crisp's Characters

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