Elisha Cook Jr. - Rotten Tomatoes

Elisha Cook Jr.

Highest Rated:   100% Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Lowest Rated:   25% The Black Bird (1975)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   San Francisco, California, USA
American actor Elisha Cook Jr. was the son of an influential theatrical actor/writer/producer who died early in the 20th Century. The younger Cook was in vaudeville and stock by the time he was fourteen-years old. In 1928, Cook enjoyed critical praise for his performance in the play Her Unborn Child, a performance he would repeat for his film debut in the 1930 film version of the play. The first ten years of Cook's Hollywood career found the slight, baby-faced actor playing innumerable college intellectuals and hapless freshmen (he's given plenty of screen time in 1936's Pigskin Parade). In 1940, Cook was cast as a man wrongly convicted of murder in Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), and so was launched the second phase of Cook's career as Helpless Victim. The actor's ability to play beyond this stereotype was first tapped by director John Huston, who cast Cook as Wilmer, the hair-trigger homicidal "gunsel" of Sidney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon (1941). So far down on the Hollywood totem pole that he wasn't billed in the Falcon opening credits, Cook suddenly found his services much in demand. Sometimes he'd be shot full of holes (as in the closing gag of 1941's Hellzapoppin'), sometimes he'd fall victim to some other grisly demise (poison in The Big Sleep [1946]), and sometimes he'd be the squirrelly little guy who turned out to be the last-reel murderer (I Wake Up Screaming [1941]; The Falcon's Alibi [1946]). At no time, however, was Cook ever again required to play the antiseptic "nerd" characters that had been his lot in the 1930s. Seemingly born to play "film noir" characters, Cook had one of his best extended moments in Phantom Lady (1944), wherein he plays a set of drums with ever-increasing orgiastic fervor. Another career high point was his death scene in Shane (1953); Cook is shot down by hired gun Jack Palance and plummets to the ground like a dead rabbit. A near-hermit in real life who lived in a remote mountain home and had to receive his studio calls by courier, Cook nonetheless never wanted for work, even late in life. Fans of the 1980s series Magnum PI will remember Cook in a recurring role as a the snarling elderly mobster Ice Pick. Having appeared in so many "cult" films, Elisha Cook Jr. has always been one of the most eagerly sought out interview subjects by film historians.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
33% The Trial
  • Actor
1993
No Score Yet The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains
  • Pappy Glue
1987
80% Hammett
  • Eli, the Taxi Driver
1982
No Score Yet Leave 'em Laughing
  • Actor
1981
No Score Yet Harry's War
  • Sgt. Billy
1981
No Score Yet Carny
  • On-Your-Mark
1980
No Score Yet Tom Horn
  • Stable Hand
1980
33% 1941
  • Patron
1979
40% The Champ
  • Georgie
1979
38% St. Ives
  • Eddie the Bell Boy
1976
25% The Black Bird
  • Wilmer
1975
No Score Yet Winterhawk
  • Finley
1975
No Score Yet The Outfit
  • Carl
1974
67% Electra Glide in Blue
  • Willie
1973
83% Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
  • Cody
1973
No Score Yet Messiah of Evil
  • Charlie
1973
80% Emperor of the North Pole (Emperor of the North)
  • Gray Cat
1973
48% Blacula
  • Sam
1972
67% The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
  • Bunker
1972
No Score Yet Scarecrow
  • Actor
1972
86% The Night Stalker
  • Mickey Crawford
1971
No Score Yet El Condor
  • Old Convict
1970
99% Rosemary's Baby
  • Mr. Nicklas
1968
No Score Yet Welcome to Hard Times (Killer on a Horse)
  • Hanson
1967
No Score Yet Johnny Cool
  • Undertaker
1963
71% The Haunted Palace
  • Peter Smith
1963
No Score Yet Black Zoo
  • Joe
1963
No Score Yet Papa's Delicate Condition
  • Mr. Keith
1963
57% One-Eyed Jacks
  • Bank Teller
1961
No Score Yet Platinum High School
  • Harry Nesbitt
1960
No Score Yet Day of the Outlaw
  • Larry
1959
96% House On Haunted Hill
  • Watson Pritchard
1959
No Score Yet Plunder Road
  • Skeets Jonas
1957
No Score Yet The Lonely Man
  • Willie
1957
No Score Yet Chicago Confidential
  • Candymouth Duggan
1957
No Score Yet Voodoo Island
  • Martin Schuyler
1957
No Score Yet Baby Face Nelson
  • Van Meter
1957
97% The Killing
  • George Peatty
1956
No Score Yet Accused of Murder
  • Whitey Pollock
1956
No Score Yet The Indian Fighter
  • Briggs
1955
No Score Yet Trial
  • Finn
1955
No Score Yet Drum Beat
  • Crackel
1955
No Score Yet Timberjack
  • Punky
1955
No Score Yet Thunder Over the Plains
  • Standish
1953
No Score Yet I, the Jury
  • Bobo
1953
97% Shane
  • Torrey
1953
100% Don't Bother to Knock
  • Eddie
1952
No Score Yet Behave Yourself
  • Jonas
1951
38% The Great Gatsby
  • Klipspringer
1949
No Score Yet Flaxy Martin
  • Roper
1949
No Score Yet The Gangster
  • Oval
1947
80% Born to Kill
  • Marty 'Mart' Waterman
1947
No Score Yet The Long Night
  • Frank
1947
No Score Yet Fall Guy
  • Joe
1947
96% The Big Sleep
  • Jones
1946
No Score Yet The Falcon's Alibi
  • Nick
1946
No Score Yet Why Girls Leave Home
  • Jimmie Lobo
1945
No Score Yet Dillinger
  • Kirk
1945
No Score Yet Up in Arms
  • Info Jones
1944
No Score Yet Dark Waters
  • Cleeve
1944
100% Phantom Lady
  • Cliff March
1944
No Score Yet Dark Mountain
  • Whitey
1944
No Score Yet Nostalgia World War II Video Library, Vol. 7
  • Actor
1944
No Score Yet Wildcat
  • Harold 'Chicopee' Nevins
1942
No Score Yet A-Haunting We Will Go
  • Frank Lucas
1942
83% I Wake Up Screaming
  • Harry Williams
1941
100% The Maltese Falcon
  • Wilmer Cook
1941
84% Sergeant York
  • Piano Player
1941
100% Love Crazy
  • Elevator Boy
1941
100% Ball of Fire
  • Waiter
1941
No Score Yet Hellzapoppin'
  • Assistant Director
1941
No Score Yet Tin Pan Alley
  • Joe Cadd
1940
83% Stranger on the Third Floor
  • Joe Briggs
1940
No Score Yet He Married His Wife
  • Dicky Brown
1940
No Score Yet Submarine Patrol
  • `Professor' Pratt
1938
No Score Yet My Lucky Star
  • Waldo
1938
No Score Yet They Won't Forget
  • Joe Turner
1937
No Score Yet Love Is News
  • Egbert Eggleston
1937
No Score Yet Pigskin Parade
  • Herbert Terwilliger Van Dyck
1936

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet The Twilight Zone
1985-1989
  • Weldon
  • 1986
No Score Yet Batman
1966-1968
  • Isaacson
  • 1967
No Score Yet Star Trek
1966-1969
  • Cogley
  • 1967

Quotes from Elisha Cook Jr.'s Characters