Star Archive

Tom Walls (1883 - 1949)

Tom Walls is virtually forgotten by cinema fans these days, yet in his day he was hugely successful, and has claim to be one of the most influential figures in British comedy.

He was born in Northampton, the son of a plumber. After he left school he drifted a little, spending a year in Canada and joining the police on his return. After these false starts, he took to the boards as part of a Brighton concert party and found his career. Over the next few years he worked steadily, appearing in the West End as well as touring Britain, Australia and North America. By 1912 he was firmly established as a West End star.

In 1922 he and Leslie Henson co-produced and starred in the farce Tons of Money at the Shaftesbury Theatre. It was a smash hit. Their next project was It Pays to Advertise. They moved to the Aldwych Theatre for this one and thus inaugurated the Aldwych Farce series of comedies. With its regular team of Henson, Walls, Mary Brough, Ralph Lynn, Robertson Hare, Yvonne Arnaud, Winifred Shotter and others, and its usual writer Ben Travers, the series developed a strain of British comedy which featured silly-asses, henpecked husbands, battleaxe mothers-in-law and lots of innocent misunderstandings.

He made an early foray into the cinema in 1924 when he co-produced a film version of Tons of Money, though he didn't reprise his role. When the talkies arrived there was no stopping him, and he moved his focus away from the theatre and to the movies. He directed seventeen films between 1930 and 1938, acting in most of them. The majority of these films were Aldwych farces.

When the economics of the industry changed with the new Cinematography Act, Walls went back to the theatre. He returned to films as an actor only.

His productions made him very rich and by 1927 he had his own racing stable. His horse April the Fifth won the Derby, but this expensive hobby took its toll and by the time of his death he was insolvent.      

Pressbook for Plunder featuring Tom WallsCigarette card of Tom WallsTom Walls in The Blarney StoneTom Walls in The Blarney StoneTom Walls in Just SmithPublicity shot for Tom WallsPoster for Master of Bankdam

Filmography as actor/director unless otherwise indicated

1924 Tons of Money (prod. only)
1930 On Approval
1930 Canaries Sometimes Sing
1930 Rookery Nook
1931 Tons of Money (dir. only)
1931 Plunder
1931 A Night Like This
1932 Thark
1932 Leap Year
1933 Turkey Time
1933 A Cuckoo in the Nest
1933 The Blarney Stone
1933 Just Smith
1934 Dirty Work (dir. only)
1934 A Cup of Kindness
1935 Stormy Weather
1935 Me and Marlborough (act. only)
1935 Lady in Danger
1935 Foreign Affaires
1935 Fighting Stock
1935 Pot Luck
1936 Dishonour Bright
1937 For Valour
1938 Second Best Bed
1938 Old Iron
1938 Strange Boarders (act. only)
1938 Crackerjack (act. only)
1943 Undercover (act. only)
1943 They Met in the Dark (act. only)
1944 The Halfway House (act. only)
1944 Love Story (act. only)
1945 Johnny Frenchman (act. only)
1946 This Man is Mine (act. only)
1947 While I Live (act. only)
1947 Master of Bankdam (act. only)
1948 Spring in Park Lane (act. only)
1949 Maytime in Mayfair (act. only)
1949 Interrupted Journey (act. only)

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