Here are five performances of his I've enjoyed the most, so far, in chronological order.
|Jeanne Eagels as Leslie Crosbie |
and Herbert Marshall as Geoff Hammond
|Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, and Miriam Hopkins|
in Trouble in Paradise
|Marshall and Margaret Sullavan bond over coffee in The Good Fairy|
4. The Little Foxes (1941, D.: William Wyler). Another Wyler film -- he clearly was a terrific director for Marshall. This one was his second film with Bette Davis, and he played victimized husband Horace Giddens to her poisonous Regina Giddens in this adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play about a dysfunctional Southern family. The tone is mostly dark throughout, but it's a riveting production with good performances by the entire cast. Marshall, by turns warm and sympathetic, then angry and righteous, plays the role of a dying man so convincingly that you feel his pain almost viscerally. His subtlety as an actor is revealed when you know he wants to trust his family, but because he's smart, he cannot hide the growing realization of dishonest motives and crimes being perpetrated. Interestingly, Davis and Marshall had a warm relationship off-screen.
|Davis & Marshall in The Little Foxes|
5. High Wall (1947, D. Curtis Bernhardt). In this noir, Robert Taylor is a veteran with PTSD, employed by Marshall, who finds himself accused of murder. It's a psychological thriller as well, with Audrey Totter as the doctor who tries to help Taylor. In this one, Marshall shows his ability to be slimy, two-faced, and scary. It takes some questionable narrative turns, and I'm not enamored of Taylor's performance particularly, but it showcases the often underappreciated range of Marshall, who in my opinion, really steals the movie.
Honorable Mention: If You Could Only Cook, Foreign Correspondent, The Painted Veil, Mad About Music, Angel Face.
Don't miss him in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Little White Frock," or his appearance on the popular "What's My Line?" TV show in which, as the 'Mystery Guest, he gracefully responds to Dorothy Kilgallen's question as to whether he considers himself a 'character man,' with, "The day has come, yes." Video link is below.
Finally, for a greater appreciation of his fight to overcome his war injury, read this article published in 2014 by SAG-AFTRA, image below: