We’re trying something new with our Monday Quiz this time.
We’ve long been fascinated with the great supporting actors of classic Hollywood whose personal backgrounds and offscreen lives remain obscure to the general public but whose faces onscreen are readily if not instantly recognizable.
In the case of male performers, you see them and ask — who is that guy? I’ve seen him a million times.
Our first subject in this format certainly fits that bill.
Joseph Calleia, born in Malta in 1897 (he also died there in 1975 at age 78), began appearing in Hollywood films in the early Thirties, and worked straight up to the late 1960’s. He sometimes approached top billing but usually he played cops, criminals, and various ethnic roles in support of various stars.
Over the course of his career, Calleia appeared on some of Hollywood’s genuine classics. He was a fine actor, and improved anything he was cast in. He was a supporting player in the best sense.
So rather than a focus on personalities, we focus exclusively on their work. In each question we will describe key films relating to our subject, and ask you to identify the titles.
Be careful. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Ok, here we go with the Films of Joseph Calleia. (answers tomorrow):
1) Question: This picture dates from 1938, was produced by Walter Wanger and costars Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr. It’s a remake of a French Jean Gabin showcase, Pepe Le Moko. Calleia plays a character named “Slimane.” What’s the title?
2) Question: This Orson Welles film dates from 1958, and features Calleia prominently as Police Sergeant Pete Menzies, who discovers that his fidelity to Welles’ Capt. Hank Quinlan is fatally misplaced. The title is…?
3) Question: Calleia wasn’t especially known for his comedy performances but here he turns up in support of W.C. Fields and Mae West in this 1940 classic. He is third billed after the two stars, of course. The title is….?
4) Question: William Holden (in his early 20’s) stars in this 1939 film adaptation of a Clifford Odets play about a boxer with musical talent. Barbara Stanwyck is on hand. So is Calleia in his more typical role of a gangster. The title is…?
5) Question: Calleia was sometimes credibly cast in ethnic parts, and here he plays one “Alejandro Uradi” is this 1939 drama coscripted by John Huston. Paul Muni, Bette Davis and John Garfield also show up. The title is..?
6) Question: Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake made some snappy film noirs together, but here they show up with Brian Donlevy and Bonita Granville in this semi-costume drama how politics was practiced in the bad old days. Calleia pays a resentful gambling under boss. Title is…?
7) Question: This 1946 noir classic, starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford, has Calleia on the other side of the law, as detective Maurice Obregon. The title is…?
8) Question: Calleia occasionally popped up in a western, and does so here again in an ethnic role as “Monte Marquez.” The stars of this 1948 oater are Joel McCrea, Frances Dee and Charles Bickford. And the title is…?
9) Question: Defying his pattern of playing dubious types or outright criminals, Calleia shows up here in a prominent role as Roman Catholic clergyman “Father Loma.” The star of this 1939 crime drama is Victor McLaglen. The title is…?
10) Question: Calleia was appealing to directors of all sorts of films, and George Cukor chose him for a supporting part in this 1957 prestige item costarring Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani. Calleia plays “Alberto.” The title is…?