Anniversary Post: Joseph Cotten

Joseph Cotten

On this day, 15 May, in 1905, the actor Joseph Cotten was born.

People tend to associate him with art films. And he has starred in some great ones. There are the obvious ones: the Orson Welles’ classics Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. But also, one of my all-time favorites: The Third Man.

Joseph Cotten Psychotronics

But I associate him more with psychotronic films. He played a truly menacing psychopath in one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, Shadow of a Doubt.

For me, 1971 was a very big year when it comes to Joseph Cotten. He starred in two important films that year. The first was as Dr Frankenstein in the exceptional Lady Frankenstein.

The second was in The Abominable Dr Phibes. He is notable in being the only person in either it or the sequel who I feel sorry for. That’s not to say that everyone else gets what they deserve, only that the murders are so delightful that it’s hard to care about fictional characters dying.

Sadly, Joseph Cotten had a stroke in 1981, which ended his career. He didn’t perform in anything the last 13 years of his life. But I do appreciate that his career declined from the 1950s onward so that he left us some great supporting roles in lower budget films.

Joseph Cotten by Photoplay Publishing Company; no photographer credited — Photoplay, December 1942 (page 53), public domain.

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