Raymond Griffith

Active - 1916 - 1940  |   Born - Jan 23, 1890   |   Died - Nov 23, 1957   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

Born into a theatrical family, American actor Raymond Griffith was trained from an early age in the exacting art of pantomime. His ability to convey thoughts and emotions physically came in handy when Griffith went to work in silent pictures in 1914. After an apprenticeship at Vitagraph, Griffith became a staff writer and lead comic at Keystone Studios; his early buffoon roles bear little resemblance to his sleek, sophisticated characterizations of the 1920s. Signed as a supporting actor by Paramount, Griffith gained critical attention by stealing scenes in a series of wry social comedies. While everyone around him concerned themselves with the plotline, the mustachioed, tuxedoed Griffith would sit in a corner, react coolly and agreeably to the events, and then drink another cocktail. Promoted to leading roles, Griffith further developed his implacable, nonchalant characterization in such comedies as Paths to Paradise (1926). Hands Up (1927) is considered Griffith's masterpiece; as a dapper Civil War spy, he responds to the most horrendous of dangers as if calmly ordering breakfast. Offscreen Griffith's take-charge attitude served him well when he became a producer at Warner Bros. and 20th Century-Fox in the 1930s. Griffith was forced to switch from acting to producing in the sound era because he literally had no voice: as a result of straining his vocal chords in childhood, Griffith could barely manage a hoarse whisper. But before retiring from acting, Raymond Griffith was assigned his most famous (albeit uncredited) screen role, as the bayonetted French soldier in All Quiet on the Western Front, whose facial features freeze into a hauntingly quizzical death mask.

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