Herbert Lom, last of The Ladykillers

September 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm (cinema, comedy, drama, good people, Jim D)

Herbert Lom, actor. Born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru, 11 Sept 1917 (Prague); died 27 Sept 2012 (London).

The Ladykillers Poster

Lom was one of the great character actors of post-war British cinema who rarely played leading roles but regularly stole the show from better-known stars. In his younger days especially, his saturnine good looks might have made him a matinée idol, but his strong accent (he was Czech-born) led to his being typecast as smooth, sinister foreign criminals and villains for most of his career. As he once commented, “In British eyes anyone foreign is slightly villainous.”

He fled his homeland as Hitler invaded, arriving in Britain in 1939 with his girlfriend Didi, who was Jewish. She was turned away at Dover for not having the correct papers. Her subsequent death (from starvation) in a concentration camp haunted Lom for the rest of his life.

Most of the obituaries have emphasised his role as Clouseau’s boss Drayfus in the various Pink Panther films, but to be honest these became less and less entertaining (something Lom was well aware of); even the best of the early ones cannot hold a candle to the funniest Ealing comedy of them all, The Ladykillers, in which Lom played his usual sinister role with a straight-faced menace that was in delicious contrast to the almost farcical antics going on around him. It was, Lom once said, “one of the few films I’m proud to have been associated with.”

He was (as far as I know) the last surviving member of the brilliant cast and production team that made this 1955 masterpiece.

RIP Herbert.

(Graun obit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/sep/27/herbert-lom)

2 Comments

  1. just saying. said,

    Was he not also the suffering police chief to Clouseau!s incompetence.

  2. just saying. said,

    He did deadpan to the outstanding Alec Guiness.I always remember him on the tele,Always the crook,aside from one program that was his show.A shrink or something like that from memory.

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