Monday, February 2, 2009

Cuddle up with Cuddles

Scene from Casablanca

It was 125 years ago today that S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall was born. Sakall was born in Budapest, which at the time was part of Austria-Hungary, so he learned to speak German, and made a lot of movies in the German cinema in the 1930s. However, as with many talented people in the German cinema, Sakall left for America thanks to Nazi oppression. It's to Hollywood's gain, however, as Sakall brightened up a lot of movies. Perhaps his most famous role is as the waiter in Casablanca, seen on the right in the photo above with Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henried. Sakall also gets a scene where he's toasting America with two people about to emigrate: "What watch?" "Ten watch." "Such watch?"

Casablanca is by far not the only wonderful movie Sakall made. I've mentioned The Devil and Miss Jones before; he plays a butler there. He also shows up in movies as diverse as In the Good Old Summertime, a musical comedy; and San Antonio, a western.

Sakall's name may not be so well remembered, but his face is. He's one of the many character actors whom Hollywood utilized well back in the studio days, putting them in movie after movie after movie. The character actors always brighten up the movies they're in, and make them enjoyable to watch. Hollywood doesn't make such actors any more, and it's a shame.

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