Creator: John Carradine

"I've made some of the greatest films ever madeóand a lot of crap, too."
John Carradine, summing up his own body of work rather nicely.

A very prolific and frequently hammy actor who is probably best remembered for appearing in many, many B- to Z-grade movies featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Cinema Snob, usually playing a Mad Scientist or Dracula.

For the record, he did have some actual good roles. Carradine was a favorite of John Ford and appeared in several classic Ford films, including The Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach, and Drums Along the Mohawk. Other major films that Carradine appeared in include Man Hunt, Captains Courageous and The Ten Commandments. He had a decent stage acting career, being a protege of John Barrymore and playing roles such as the lead in Hamlet, and he's also remembered as the father of David Carradine, Robert Carradine and Keith Carradine.

Easily one of the most prolific actors who ever lived (if not THE most). His entire filmography (as listed by IMDB) comes to 340 titles, dwarfing even the 275 titles of Christopher Lee (incidentally, Lee and Carradine actually share one credit: House of the Long Shadows, in which they appeared alongside Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Desi Arnaz, Jr).

Often cited as a poster child for Money, Dear Boy, Carradine's willingness to take any role actually stems from an abortive passion project. In the '30s and '40s he managed a Shakespearean repertory company, John Carradine and His Shakespeare Players, which performed in San Francisco. Carradine's performances were highly acclaimed, but money was always tight, forcing Carradine to fund these productions out of pocket. When the Shakespeare Players collapsed (which also caused his first marriage to dissolve), Carradine found himself in dire financial straits, forcing him to continue appearing in roles beneath his talent.

Partial filmography:

Tropes associated with him include:

  • Classically Trained Extra
  • Doing It for the Art: As mentioned, his Shakespeare company was both acclaimed and remarkably unprofitable.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Even when he's relatively "good", such as the Great Owl.
  • Evil Is Hammy
  • Famous Last Words: "Milan is a good place to die." He said it just before lapsing into a coma he never woke from, after climbing a cathedral with his son David despite his crippling arthritis.
  • Large Ham: By his own admission.
  • Mad Scientist
  • Money, Dear Boy: Oh dear God. Look at that filmography. Just look at it.
    • It didn't even have to be that much money. In Joe Dante's DVD Commentary for The Howling, he tells the story of how, at one point during the shoot, Carradine was carrying around snacks that he bought himself, and wrapped in heavy blankets because there was no heat in his trailer. The man was so accustomed to working in no-budget films that it never even occurred to him that the film's budget should have been able to cover his food and heating costs!