Biography

An effort by a Films in Review writer of the '60s to catalogue the film appearances of American actor Harry Woods came a-cropper when the writer gave up after 400 films. Woods himself claimed to have appeared in 500 pictures, further insisting that he was violently killed off in 433 of them. After a lengthy and successful career as a millinery salesman, Woods decided to give Hollywood a try when he was in his early thirties. Burly, hatchet-faced, and steely eyed, Woods carved an immediate niche as a reliable villain. So distinctive were his mannerisms and his razor-edged voice that another memorable movie heavy, Roy Barcroft, admitted to deliberately patterning his performances after Woods'. While he went the usual route of large roles in B-pictures and serials and featured parts and bits in A-films, Harry Woods occasionally enjoyed a large role in an top-of-the-bill picture. In Cecil B. De Mille's Union Pacific (1939), for example, Woods plays indiscriminate Indian killer Al Brett, who "gets his" at the hands of Joel McCrea; and in Tall in the Saddle (1944), Woods is beaten to a pulp by the equally muscular John Wayne. Comedy fans will remember Harry Woods as the humorless gangster Alky Briggs in the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business (1931) and as the bullying neighbor whose bratty kid (Tommy Bond) hits Oliver Hardy in the face with a football in Block-Heads (1938). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi