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Thread: Henry Cass

  1. #1
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    A few years ago, a child in my class (I'm a primary school teacher) brought in some family-related items as part of a class topic on World War Two. Most children had something interesting to show or tell, tales of granny's evacuation or how great grandad lost a finger in a sea battle (fortunately the finger was left at home).



    What I noticed straight away was that the relative in this particular photo was in costume, rather than uniform, and that it had a publicity number on the bottom. Granny was in fact Joan Hopkins, then still-living and an actress on both silver and small screen in the 40s and 50s. She was married to the director Henry Cass. I knew the name straight away from "Blood of the Vampire", one of the first non-Hammer Brit horrors, but apparently this was a bit of a comedown. A bit of research turned up "Last Holiday" with Alec Guinness, "The Glass Mountain" and a claim to have discovered Audrey Hepburn for her most substantial pre-Hollywood role in "First Wives' Club".



    I didn't ask too many questions: Henry Cass died the year before my student was born. Any more info out there?

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    I remember reading that he subsequently forswore the film business and became a member of the 60s hardcore Christian group The Festival of Light, from where we were also treated to busybody barmpot Mary Whitehouse.

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    I believe the Festival of Light organization are still active, I was watching a Python retrospective on the Life of Brian recently and one of the talking heads was a FoL spokesman. A few of his films show up on Movies 4 Men; all moderate despite the credits often including the likes of Norman Hudis, Jimmy Sangster and Baker/Berman.

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    Henry Cass directed The Crooked Sky (1957) that starred Wayne Morris. It was written by Maclean Rogers (story) & Norman Hudis and was fimed at Merton Park.

    Henry Cass was an actor, writer and director working from the 1920s through to the 1960s. His last film was Happy Deathday in 1968 which he also wrote. I believe he then retired from the film buisness as at that time there was little for him to do the British film industry being at a low ebb and second features in decline.

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    Henry Cass was my grandfather's elder brother. The last time we met was in 1967 or 68 at my grandfather's funeral. He was not with his wife, Joan Hopkins and I believe they may have seperated by then. The story goes that as immigrants to Britain their father was not able to make himself understood by immigration officers and was given the name Kirshenbaum. The brothers (I believe there were four of them) all born in this country adopted different surnames from Cass to Cassell. My aunt, Henry Cass's niece, is still alive and remembers him with a great deal of affection. Apparently it was he who encouraged to follow her dream of one day being an actress.

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