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The Career of John Longden

From: Screen News; September 2nd, 1933

Talking with John Longden, the noted English stage and picture star, and after a lot of questioning, we found that Cinesound had certainly signed a contract with an actor with plenty of experience in his thirty-year-old head, when the Company chose him for the Dean in "The Silence of Dean Maitland".

History reads interesting too. Born the son of a Wesleyan Missionary in 1903, in the West Indies, educated at Kingswood School, Bath, founded by John Wesley, joined R.N.V.R. for War. Started as mining student in Yorkshire, where he spent two years "underground" - which is down a coal mine. Joined up with amateur theatricals, and then helped by a solicitor to get on the stage in 1921 by an introduction to Seymour Hicks. Walked on in "Old Bill, M.P." at the Lyceum, London. (Then wealth comes his way) Thirty shillings a week in "My Old Dutch" with Albert Chevalier! Joined Liverpool Repertory, then transferred Birmingham Repertory in John Drinkwater's "Abraham Lincoln", Eden Philpots "The Farmer's Wife", and "Cymbeline" as the first Shakeserean production in modern clothes. Toured in "Monsieur Beaucaire", then Richard in "The Farmer's Wife" for two years of its three-year run at the Court Theatre, Sloane Square.

Longden then got what we may term "film-itch", and, after two or three small parts, got long contract with Gaumont-British Pictures to write scenarios and act in silents. Talk came in, and the man who will tell the story of the adventurous Dean was seen and heard in the first British talkie, "Blackmail". British International Pictures "liked the shape of his nose," as Longden says, and he got a long term contract with them to appear in "Atlantic", the first tri-lingual spoken drama; "The Flame of Love" with Anna May Wong; "Two Worlds"; "Juno and the Paycock"; Elissa Landi's last British film, "Children of Chance", and Galsworthy's "The Skin Game".

At this juncture I called my secretary over to jot down the name films in which he appeared either as a star or juvenile male lead, and from the lengthly [sic] list I extract only the fact that he appeared with Australian Eve Grey in one picture, as I haven't the space for them all. There were stars he had acted with too - plenty of them.

"If suitability makes for anything, I should succeed as the Dean," Mr. longden concluded: "You see my father educated me for the church, but, as he said, in giving a terrible blow to my profession, you are more suited for work down a mine or on the stage. Rather nasty don't you think?"

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