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Joseph Calleia

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Joseph Borda
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Joseph Calleia

Postby Joseph Borda » July 5th, 2013, 11:16 pm

Hi All,

Thanks for accepting me to the Silver Screen Oasis !! It's a great Group, and I am pleased to be part of it.

My main interest is Maltese Hollywood Actor Joseph Calleia !! You can say, I am his biggest fan !! I have a nice collection of photos, and personal items that belonged to JC. I have also collected all his movies ..59 in all, except for one, that I am still searching for ! The movie is The Divorce Racket filmed in 1932 !!

Is there anyone here that can help me to locate this movie ?? Also, I love to hear from other Joseph Calleia fans that belong to this Group.

Thanks for now !!


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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby Rita Hayworth » July 5th, 2013, 11:46 pm

Welcome to our humble forum Joe! :)

Happy to have you here ...

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby JackFavell » July 9th, 2013, 4:43 pm

Joe, I feel we were destined to meet!

I am quite a fan of Joseph Calleia, but I'm sorry, I've never seen or found a copy of The Divorce Racket. I am wondering if it might not be a lost film, since no one seems to have seen it at IMDB. :cry: :cry:

I've seen at least 37 of Calleia's films, probably more but titles sometimes escape me. My favorites of his films are:

Touch of Evil
Tough Guy
Deadline at Dawn
Four Faces West
Five Came Back
Exclusive Story
After the Thin Man

and his performance in the episode of Have Gun Will Travel.

Now what on earth made you so interested in Calleia in the first place? He's not the normal obsession as far as classic film fans are concerned! I know for me, my love and appreciation for this actor were on the back burner for years. I got interested in classic film when I was about 9 or 10. I've liked Joseph Calleia from the first moment I saw him, his characters always gave the movies he was in extra depth and punch. My interest in Calleia came to the fore more recently when I realized that whenever he was on screen, I wondered what happened to his characters after the films were over. Sometimes I felt sorry for his hoodlums, or found his mysterious detectives so sympatico. Almost always, there was a level of excitement watching his acting that I just don't feel for anyone else.... as if he brought something of live theater to his films. You are never sure what he's going to do. He was a brilliant actor, tremendously exciting to watch and extremely under-rated. I find it quite amazing that he can play a violent, shifty eyed hoodlum or a boring old cop who is past his prime with equal finesse. His real life seems to have been equally interesting. I think he's fascinating.

Can you tell me more about your collection and what films got you interested in the actor? Are you by any chance Maltese yourself? Thanks.

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby norfious » August 22nd, 2013, 12:08 am

Ack, I am late to the Joseph Calleia party! :shock: Look at what happens when I take a hiatus from the forum--I miss all the excitement!

Welcome to the forum, Joe! It is great to see another Joseph Calleia fan. Quite awesomely, there are quite a few of us around these parts. :)

That's awesome that you have been lucky enough to view so many of his films. Unfortunately, I am finding it difficult to get a hold of them or watch them on TCM. Where did you find all the ones you've seen?

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby JackFavell » August 22nd, 2013, 2:55 pm

I think I was late to the party too, norfious, since Joseph Borda seems to have taken a powder.

I waited for many of the Joseph Calleia films to come around on TCM, then I recorded them. But some of them you can find cheaply at sites like ioffer (not very good prints), or ebay.

I would also recommend your local library, they may have some of his films already, or they might be able to get particular films through inter-library loans.

Some are on youtube:

THE JUNGLE BOOK (Calleia reportedly liked this film of his the best, for it afforded him two good character roles in one)









and this one is on another website I found (It is in English):

http://my.mail.ru/video/mail/vm_glusche ... 8422/87996

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby norfious » August 22nd, 2013, 8:44 pm

Wow, thanks for the youtube links, Jack! Some of those I haven't seen yet, so I'll definitely check them out!

I am lucky enough to own "Algiers." I do really love Calleia's character in that and how he's so dedicated to his little game of cat-and-mouse -- so much so that he doesn't know what to do once he catches Pepe.

Ooh, I am so glad to see that Lured is on youtube. George Sanders AND Joseph Calleia! What more could one want?

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby JackFavell » August 22nd, 2013, 9:06 pm

Heck, Sanders AND Calleia? My idea of heaven. :D

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby Scott_Nollen » March 5th, 2014, 7:43 pm

I've always admired Joseph Calleia and enjoy watching him in anything. He was a terrific nonverbal actor, and could do so much with that incredible face! :twisted:

Brian McFadden
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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby Brian McFadden » March 8th, 2014, 4:04 pm

My favorites, among this great character actor's films, were the ones I saw most when I was growing up. I remember him best from After the Thin Man, but I also enjoyed him in The Gorilla. Lugosi was wasted in the film and The Ritz Brothers weren't my cup of tea, but Calleia and some of the other actors helped add atmosphere. And my all-time favorite featuring the actor, was My Little Chickadee. He was perfect as the town boss who names W.C. Fields sheriff in order to get him killed. The highlight is the scene that showcases Calleia's expressive eyes as Mae West realizes he's the kissing bandit. Great stuff!

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby JackFavell » March 28th, 2014, 2:34 pm

Glad to see some love for Joseph Calleia! I love him in just about anything, even though he persistently comes in on credit line number 6 in most films. I spent years watching him, and only realized in the last few what an impact he made on me. He really heightens any film experience. It's so exciting when he shows up in a movie. It reminds me of what happens when a great actor appears for the first time on stage, how everything just starts to crackle. What a great actor!

You are right about My Little Chickadee, it's such a surprise and so fitting that Calleia would end up as the surprise kissing bandit!

My favorite films for Calleia are ones where I feel he gives even more than his usual 100%.

Five Came Back, in which Calleia plays a wanted man being extradited back to the States, most certainly to hang, is right up there. His character seems black as can be until he stands next to John Carradine! who, as the crazy law officer trying to make a name for himself by taking Calleia back, shows a pretty nasty side himself. In the end, most of the characters have changed, and none more than Calleia's. God, I love a bad man gone good.

And speaking of bad men gone good, there is the very silly Tough Guy, which stars Rin Tin Tin and Jackie Cooper. Calleia really gets to shine here. He starts off again as the bad guy of all bad guys, but reforms when Jackie and his dog need him. Lots of screen time for the supporting actor in this one and he makes the role believable despite a script that boasts a little too much saccharine.

Another performance that comes in very high up is Touch of Evil. I think this is just a splendid role for Joe, though one that tends to fade into the background when he's up against Welles, Marlene, Heston and Leigh. He's a boring second string cop, and that's exactly how he plays his role, but it's a magnificent job, just the best acting I think he ever did. His betrayal is so strongly felt because he's literally always been in the shadow of Hank and still hero worships him. It's incredibly moving, and I love that Welles picked him to play this pivotal role, adding such great texture to the movie. Welles had always wanted to work with Calleia, after seeing him in a play in 1936, and he handed him one of the best roles of his career.

It's hard for me not to list all of Calleia's roles here. Any movie he's in is a favorite for me now. In After the Thin Man he has a short amount of screen time, but he makes the most of it, playing mysterious, deadly and also funny at the same time. Nicky sticks him with the bill for a table full of drunken screwballs at Calleia's nightclub. The look on his face when he realizes he just got stiffed is so funny!

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moira finnie
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Joseph Calleia

Postby moira finnie » May 5th, 2015, 9:58 am

Character actor Joseph Calleia is a longtime favorite of several members. This thread has been transferred here from the Announcements section to allow more members to enjoy posting about the work of this impressively talented actor Enjoy!
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)]

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Re: Joseph Calleia

Postby Western Guy » May 5th, 2015, 10:06 am

Joseph Calleia became one of my faves thanks to the introduction of TCM into my city about ten years ago. Prior to that, as a classic movie buff, I certainly knew of his name but really didn't know much about him. Then I began catching his performances courtesy of TCM and right off the bat became a great admirer of his work. I think the first movie I really noticed him in was his ruthless Dillinger-like portrayal of Sonny in PUBLIC HERO #1. Then another gangster (though with a heart) in TOUGH GUY, opposite Jackie Cooper. But where I really became a fan was when I saw him as the criminal Vasquez in FIVE CAME BACK. A heckuva role. And on and on it went: JUAREZ, GOLDEN BOY (another great gangster performances) and, of course, ALGIERS.

Truly one of the great character actors of classic cinema. And as Moira points out, he had enormous range: from sadistic to sympathetic.

And I like this from IMdB: He was a kind and generous man and very appreciative of his fans wherever they were - quick to read all their letters and quick to send autographed pictures. It was strictly tongue-in-cheek when he supposedly quipped: "Everyone recognizes my face, but no one knows my name."

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