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  • Grand Canyon Trail

  • Angel

  • Bob, Son of Battle

  • The Dawn Patrol

  • The Toast of New York

  • Hollywood Cavalcade

  • Carefree

  • To Be or Not to Be

  • Foreign Correspondent

  • The Perils of Pauline

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James Finlayson Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Aug 27, 1887
  • Died: Oct 9, 1953

Scottish comedian James Finlayson attended the University of Edinburgh with the intention of pursuing a business career. He was deflected by his best friend, stage actor Andy Clyde, who encouraged Finlayson to give theatre a try. After serving his apprenticeship in regional repertory, Finlayson was cast in the West End production of [[Feature~V86247~Bunty Pulls the Strings~buntypullsthestrings]] in 1912, a production which brought him to New York. He embarked on a vaudeville tour with Alec Lauder (brother of the more famous Sir Harry Lauder), then headed to Hollywood, working at the Ince and L-KO studios before settling at the Mack Sennett fun factory in 1919. While with Sennett, Finlayson developed his famous, apoplectic caricature of the old-fashioned "me proud beauty" Victorian villain.

In 1923, Finlayson moved to Hal Roach, where he would spend the next 17 years as both a star comic and (more successfully) a supporting player. During his Roach years, Finlayson perfected his comic signature, the "double take and fade away": a reaction of surprise, followed by several turns of the head and an upraised eyebrow, capped with the expletive "Doh!" Legend has it that one of Finlayson's double-takes was so energetic that it caused him to crack his skull against a wall and lose consciousness! Though he worked with everyone on the Roach lot, Finlayson became most closely associated with Laurel and Hardy, co-starring with the team on 33 occasions between 1927 and 1940. Fin's most memorable films with L&H include [[Feature~V84959~Big Business~bigbusiness]] (1929), [[Feature~V77354~Another Fine Mess~anotherfinemess]] (1930), [[Feature~V78187~Chickens Come Home~chickenscomehome]] (1931), [[Feature~V153520~Our Wife~ourwife]] (1931), [[Feature~V13523~The Devil's Brother~thedevilsbrother]] (1933) and, best of all, [[Feature~V53611~Way Out West~wayoutwest]] (1937), wherein as western saloon keeper Mickey Finn, Finlayson outdoes himself with his own hilarious brand of double-dyed villainy. He also appeared frequently with another team, Clark and McCullough, over at RKO.

While some of Finlayson's feature-film roles were sizeable, notably his assignments in Dawn Patrol (1930) and [[Feature~V1577~All Over Town~allovertown]] (1937), he was most often seen in unbilled bits, sometimes (as in the 1938 Astaire-Rogers vehicle [[Feature~V8253~Carefree~carefree]]) minus his trademarked paintbrush moustache. Because of his long associations with Sennett and Roach, James Finlayson was frequently called upon to appear in nostalgic recreations of Hollywood's silent era, notably [[Feature~V95440~Hollywood Cavalcade~hollywoodcavalcade]] (1939) and [[Feature~V37752~The Perils of Pauline~theperilsofpauline]] (1947). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi