Friday, May 1, 2009

Discovering Murray Kinnell

Murray Kinnell
July 24, 1889 - August 14, 1954

London-born Kinnell was a versatile actor who appeared on the British stage, Broadway and classic Hollywood films of the 1930s. A member of the George Arliss stock company he appeared in the 1928 Broadway production of The Merchant of Venice as Bassanio. Arliss was Shylock and young Peggy Wood was Portia. The cast also featured Hardie Albright and Spring Byington.

Heading west, Kinnell appeared in six well-received films with Arliss: 1930s Old English, 1932s A Successful Calamity and The Man Who Played God, 1933s Voltaire, 1934s The House of Rothchilds and Cardinal Richelieu in 1935.

You and I have seen Kinnell many times or I miss my bet. Any of these ring a bell - The Public Enemy, The Mouthpiece, Grand Hotel, The Beast of the City, Zoo in Budapest, The Last Days of Pompeii, Anne of Green Gables, Captain Blood, The Three Musketeers, Lloyds of London, One Rainy Afternoon, The Prince and the Pauper, Captains Courageous?

As a treat to myself, I've been going through my Charlie Chan's chronologically and one of the biggest treats is discovering Murray Kinnell. In The Black Camel from 1931 Kinnell portrays a philosphical beach bum/artist ("Smith, Jones - it doesn't matter.") He's wordly, sneaky and altogether intriguing.

Kinnell at 11:00

In 1934s Charlie Chan in London Kinnell is the butler of one of the country estates where cocktailing and fox hunting abound, and the ladies fashions are to die for! Inspector Chan is sure to find a murder among the guests - if the butler with an agenda will let him enter the house! Kinnell is pompous, practical and maybe something'll have to watch to find out.

"Thank you, so much."

Charlie Chan in Paris from 1935 finds Kinnell as a fussy bank employee. A most meticulous man. A most trustworthy man. Surely a man above suspicion.

How can one ever find time to fit in newer films when there is still so much to discover about the old favourites? I've known him for ages, but I just discovered Murray Kinnell.


  1. Shut my mouth, I can't believe it! Smith/Jones is the same guy that played the butler and the banker. I thought it was three great character actors and it turns out to be one.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, novabreeze.

    The Chans just get cooler and cooler, don't they?

  3. Great site. How indeed can we ever find e time for the wealth of films from the thirties and forties?

  4. I just saw The Secret Six and greatly admired Kinnell's performance as Metz, the 'dummy.' I've noticed him before many times, and was looking for some info about him. Thanks for the background.

  5. Thanks to you, Laurel, I will add "The Secret Six" to my MK list.

  6. I, too, just watched The Secret Six. I couldn't identify him until he spoke. Then I knew him as Putty Nose. I went to IMDb and found I had at least a dozen films in which he appeared. No other site except yours had a decent bio. Thanks Laurel.

    I collect unknowns with long careers. I'm adding Murray. - Al



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