Edwin Maxwell

Active - 1929 - 1948  |   Born - Jan 1, 1886   |   Died - Aug 12, 1948   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Crime, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

After a considerable career on stage as an actor and director, Dublin-born Edwin Maxwell made his screen debut as Baptista in the Doug Fairbanks-Mary Pickford version of Taming of the Shrew (1929). The stocky, balding Maxwell spent the 1930s specializing in oily bureaucrats, crooked businessmen and shyster lawyers. Once in a while, he'd play a sympathetic role, notably the scrupulously honest Italian-American detective in Scarface. More often (especially in the films of director Frank Capra), his characters existed merely as an easily deflatable foil. One of Maxwell's most flamboyant performances was as the maniacal serial killer, in Night of Terror(1933), who rose from the dead at fade-out time to warn the audience not to reveal the end of the film or else! Essaying more benign characters in 1940s, he was seen as William Jennings Bryan in Wilson (1944) and as Oscar Hammerstein in The Jolson Story (1946). From 1939 to 1942, Maxwell served as dialogue director for the films of Cecil B. DeMille. Edwin Maxwell holds the distinction of appearing in four Academy Award-winning films: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Grand Hotel (1932), The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and You Can't Take It With You (1938).

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