Charles Lamont

Charles Lamont (May 5, 1895 – September 11, 1993) was a prolific filmmaker, directing over 200 titles and producing and writing many others. He directed several Abbott and Costello comedies and many Ma and Pa Kettle films.[1]

Charles Lamont
Born
Charles Fred Lamont

(1895-05-05)May 5, 1895
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 11, 1993(1993-09-11) (aged 98)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse(s)Estelle Bradley

BiographyEdit

A California native, Lamont was born in San Francisco. Lamont came from a family of actors, being the fourth generation to be an actor. He appeared onstage while a teenager and started appearing in films from 1919. He worked as a prop man before becoming assistant director.[1]

Lamont started directing comedy shorts in 1922, including for Mack Sennett and Al Christie.[1][2] Some of Lamont's earliest directorial jobs were silent short-subject comedies for Educational Pictures. One of the studio's popular series was Juvenile Comedies, featuring the child actor Malcolm "Big Boy" Sebastian. Lamont directed some of these films, as well as some of the competing "Buster Brown" comedies for Universal Pictures release. Both Educational and Universal figured prominently in Lamont's career.

In 1932 Educational assigned Lamont to the "Baby Burlesk” series of kiddie comedies, featuring four-year-old Shirley Temple. By 1934 Lamont was Educational's top director, and he collaborated with Buster Keaton on most of Keaton's 16 Educational shorts.

After Educational shut down its Hollywood studio, Lamont was hired by Columbia Pictures to work with such stars as Charley Chase and The Three Stooges, but his stay was short ("I had an intense hatred for [Columbia president] Harry Cohn," said Lamont to authors Ted Okuda and Edward Watz).

Lamont then freelanced at various studios (and produced a few features himself) before joining Universal Pictures in 1942. Lamont always had a tremendous rapport with juvenile performers, and Universal entrusted him with a series of musical-comedy vehicles for the studio's teenage singing star Gloria Jean. Lamont emphasized the comic elements of the films, with Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan contributing their talents, and the teen musicals were very popular with wartime audiences.

Lamont directed a couple of 1945 films starring Yvonne de Carlo and Rod Cameron, Salome Where She Danced and Frontier Gal, which were not well known in the US but were popular with some French critics.[2]

Lamont's experience with limited budgets served him well at Universal, and soon he was promoted to the studio's more important productions. By 1950 he was established as one of Universal's most efficient directors. So it was with surprise and reluctance that Lamont received his new assignment: Abbott and Costello movies. These comedy features were moneymakers for the studio but had no prestige at all, and Lamont bristled at what seemed to be a backward career move. His Universal bosses explained their need for a good comedy director who could do the job indefinitely, and Lamont came to realize that "Abbott and Costello were my future." Lamont remained with the team until the studio cut them loose in 1955.

Lamont also directed Universal's successful Ma and Pa Kettle comedies; his last film was the final Francis the Talking Mule comedy, Francis in the Haunted House (1956).

Lamont died of pneumonia in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles in 1993 at age 98.[1]

Selected filmographyEdit

Short subjectsEdit

Feature filmsEdit

NotesEdit

  • Okuda, Ted (April 1986). "Poker, Petulance and Hijinks with Those Bad Boys from Burlesque". Filmfax. No. 2. pp. 44–48.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Associated Press (September 14, 1993). "Obituaries". Daily Variety. p. 25.
  2. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim; Fred Klein; Ronald Dean Nolan (1998). The International Film Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Collins. p. 781. ISBN 0-333-74037-8.

External linksEdit