Porter Hall


Clifford Porter Hall (September 19, 1888 – October 6, 1953) was an American character actor known for appearing in a number of films in the 1930s and 1940s. Hall typically played villains or comedic incompetent characters.

Porter Hall
Porter Hall 1930.JPG
Hall in 1930
Clifford Porter Hall

(1888-09-19)September 19, 1888
DiedOctober 6, 1953(1953-10-06) (aged 65)
Years active1926–1953
Geraldine Brown
(m. 1927)

Early yearsEdit

Hall was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, W. A. Hall, headed a cooperage business that ended because of prohibition in the United States. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Hall worked for the Fleischmann Company while also directing and acting in little theater productions in Cleveland.[1]


Hall began his career touring as a stage actor with roles in productions of The Great Gatsby and Naked in 1926.[citation needed] His Broadway credits included The Great Gatsby (1926), Naked (1926), Loud Speaker (1927), Night Hostess (1928), It's a Wise Child (1929), Collision (1932), The Warrior's Husband (1932), The Dark Tower (1933), The Red Cat (1934).[2][3]

Hall made his film debut in the 1931 drama Secrets of a Secretary. His last onscreen appearance was in the 1954 film Return to Treasure Island, which was released after his death.

Hall was probably best remembered for five roles: a senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; an atheist in Going My Way; the nervous, ill-tempered Granville Sawyer, who administers a psychological test to Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street; a train passenger who encounters a man (Fred MacMurray) who has just committed a murder in Double Indemnity; and the title character's lawyer (Herbert MacCaulay) in The Thin Man.

Personal lifeEdit

Hall married actress Geraldine Brown in 1927;[4] they had two children.[citation needed] He served as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for many years.[4]

On October 6, 1953, Hall died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 65. His interment was at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.[5]

In popular cultureEdit

Director Russ Meyer named one of the characters in the 1970 cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls after Hall.

Complete filmographyEdit

Year Film Role Director Notes
1931 Secrets of a Secretary Drunk George Abbott uncredited
1931 The Cheat Leslie George Abbott uncredited
1934 The Thin Man MacCaulay W. S. Van Dyke
1934 Murder in the Private Car Alden Murray Harry Beaumont
1935 The Case of the Lucky Legs Col. Bradbury Archie Mayo
1936 The Petrified Forest Jason Maple Archie Mayo
1936 The Story of Louis Pasteur Dr. Rossignol William Dieterle
1936 Too Many Parents Mr. Saunders Robert F. McGowan
1936 Snowed Under Arthur Layton Ray Enright
1936 The Princess Comes Across Robert M. Darcy William K. Howard
1936 And Sudden Death District Attorney Charles Barton
1936 Satan Met a Lady Milton Ames William Dieterle
1936 The General Died at Dawn Peter Perrie Lewis Milestone
1936 The Plainsman Jack McCall Cecil B. DeMille
1936 Let's Make a Million Spencer Ray McCarey
1937 Bulldog Drummond Escapes Norman Merridew James P. Hogan
1937 King of Gamblers George Kramer Robert Florey
John E. Burch (assistant)
1937 Make Way for Tomorrow Harvey Chase Leo McCarey
1937 Hotel Haywire Judge Newhall George Archainbaud
1937 Wild Money Bill Court Louis King
1937 Souls at Sea Court Prosecutor Henry Hathaway
1937 This Way Please S.J. Crawford Robert Florey
1937 True Confession Mr. Hartman Wesley Ruggles
1937 Wells Fargo James Oliver Frank Lloyd
1938 Scandal Street James Wilson James P. Hogan
1938 Dangerous to Know Mayor Bradley Robert Florey
1938 Bulldog Drummond's Peril Dr. Max Botulian James P. Hogan
1938 Stolen Heaven Hermann 'Von' Offer Andrew L. Stone
1938 Prison Farm Chiston R. Bradby Louis King
1938 Men with Wings Hiram F. Jenkins William A. Wellman
1938 King of Alcatraz Matthew Talbot Robert Florey
1938 The Arkansas Traveler Mayor Daniels Alfred Santell
1938 Tom Sawyer, Detective Uncle Silas Louis King
1939 Grand Jury Secrets Anthony Pelton James P. Hogan
1939 They Shall Have Music Flower Archie Mayo
1939 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Senator Monroe Frank Capra
1939 Henry Goes Arizona Banker Edward G. Walsh Edwin L. Marin uncredited
1940 His Girl Friday Murphy Howard Hawks
1940 Dark Command Angus McCloud Raoul Walsh
1940 Arizona Lazarus Ward Wesley Ruggles
1940 Trail of the Vigilantes Sheriff Korley
1941 The Parson of Panamint Jonathan Randall William C. McGann
1941 Sullivan's Travels Mr. Hadrian Preston Sturges
1942 Mr. and Mrs. North George Heyler Robert B. Sinclair
1942 The Remarkable Andrew Chief Clerk Art Slocumb Stuart Heisler
1942 Butch Minds the Baby Brandy Smith Albert S. Rogell
1943 A Stranger in Town Judge Austin Harkley Roy Rowland
John E. Burch (assistant)
1943 The Desperadoes Banker Clanton Charles Vidor
1943 The Miracle of Morgan's Creek Justice of the Peace Preston Sturges
1943 The Woman of the Town Mayor Dog Killey George Archainbaud
1944 Standing Room Only Hugo Farenhall Sidney Lanfield
1944 Going My Way Mr. Belknap Leo McCarey
1944 Double Indemnity Mr. Jackson Billy Wilder
1944 The Great Moment President Franklin Pierce Preston Sturges
1944 The Mark of the Whistler Joe Sorsby William Castle
1945 Bring on the Girls Dr. Efrington Sidney Lanfield
1945 Blood on the Sun Arthur Bickett Frank Lloyd
1945 Murder, He Says Mr. Johnson George Marshall
1945 Week-End at the Waldorf Stevens Robert Z. Leonard
1945 Kiss and Tell Bill Franklin Richard Wallace
1947 Miracle on 34th Street Granville Sawyer George Seaton
1947 Singapore Mr. Gerald Bellows John Brahm
1947 Unconquered Leach Cecil B. DeMille
1948 You Gotta Stay Happy Mr. Caslon H.C. Potter
1948 That Wonderful Urge Attorney Ketchell Robert B. Sinclair
1949 Chicken Every Sunday Sam Howell George Seaton
1949 The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend Judge O'Toole Preston Sturges
1949 Intruder in the Dust Nub Gowrie
1951 Ace in the Hole Jacob Q. Boot Billy Wilder
1952 Carbine Williams Sam Markley Richard Thorpe
1952 The Half-Breed Kraemer Stuart Gilmore
1952 Holiday for Sinners Pool Hall Proprietor Gerald Mayer [fr]
1953 Pony Express Jim Bridger Jerry Hopper
1953 Vice Squad Jack Hartrampf Arnold Laven
1954 Return to Treasure Island Maximillian 'Maxie' Harris Ewald André Dupont


  1. ^ Lane, Linda (October 10, 1936). "Confessions Of Hollywood's Movie Villain No. 1". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawaii, Honolulu. p. 28. Retrieved 7 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Porter Hall". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Porter Hall". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b Harrison, Paul (August 30, 1942). "Film Villain Church Deacon; Grows Flowers". Sioux City Journal. Iowa, Sioux City. Newspaper Enterprise Association. p. 27. Retrieved 7 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. pp. 87–88. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved 7 April 2019.

External linksEdit