On the Set with Ronald Colman

June 11, 1939: the British colony in Hollywood prepare to broadcast their welcome to the King and Queen of Great Britain on their first visit to the United States. From left to right are Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, George Sanders in the rear having a smoke, Vivien Leigh hiding her smoke under her script, Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman, and Basil Rathbone:
Colman 1939 Broadcast for Their Majesties_edited-Final_edited-1

It is was said that Ronald Colman’s voice was so beautiful that he could attract a crowd just by reading the phone book. Experience the “velvet voice” in this stunning radio performance from 1945:

Before sound films became popular, Ronnie was a top star of the silent screen. Here he chats with cinematographer J.C. Scrugram on the set of THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1925):
Winning Barbara Worth J G Scrugram_Final

BARBARA WORTH was not only a big hit for Ronnie, but made a star of Hungarian actress Vilma Banky in her American film debut. Not billed on this poster, the film was also a breakthrough for a lanky young actor named Gary Cooper:
The-Winning-of-Barbara-Worth 2

This is a restored image from a newspaper supplement advertising BEAU GESTE (1926), a film that took Ronald Colman from star to superstar:
Beau-Geste supplement/>

Producer Sam Goldwyn starred Ronnie and Vilma Banky in a series of romantic swashbucklers during the mid-1920s just prior to the arrival of talkies. One of their best is THE NIGHT OF LOVE (1927), here they pose for the ever-present photographer (color transfer by Jeffrey Allan):
Two Lovers on the Set

A scene from THE TWO LOVERS (1928), the fifth and final Colman-Banky teaming:
two lovers_Final_edited-2

A top silent film had its own theme song available on records and on sheet music. Here is the striking cover for THE MAGIC FLAME (1927):
Sheet Music001 Final

An unusual aspect of THE MAGIC FLAME is seeing Ronnie as a clown. Here he is unrecognizable under his makeup:
Colman_Magic Flame copy_Final

A striking image of Ronnie as he prepared to go his own way with the arrival of the talkies in 1929. Nobody could know then that his best films were ahead of him: A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935). LOST HORIZON and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (both 1937), RANDOM HARVEST and THE TALK OF THE TOWN (both 1942), and A DOUBLE LIFE (1948), for which Ronnie won the Best Actor Academy Award. Eventually, Ronnie focused more on radio and television where his work was always highly rated.
Colman circa 1928_Final
We chose today for this post because February 9th is Ronald Colman’s birthday (1891). His best films, both silent and sound, are readily available now on official DVD releases and much of his radio work can be heard over the Internet. We suspect that Ronnie would be pleased that he continues to have an audience in the 21st century!

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