In The Shadows: MICHAEL RIPPER
By Michael Arruda
Character actors add so much to the movies they’re in, it’s hard to imagine these movies without them. Never receiving the praise heaped upon the major actors and stars of the genre, these folks nonetheless are often every bit as effective as the big name leads.
One of my favorite character actors from Hammer Films is Michael Ripper. Ripper appeared in many Hammer Films over the years, so much so that if you watch enough of these movies, he becomes a very familiar face.
I was fortunate enough to meet Michael Ripper in 1998 at a convention, two years before he died, and I remember the look of joy and wonder on his face as he was greeted by so many adoring fans. It was almost as if he couldn’t believe the outpouring of affection he was receiving.
My favorite Michael Ripper role was Max the tavern owner in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968). His Max is a happy-go-lucky guy you could easily see yourself having a drink with, and he helps to lighten the mood in this third Christopher Lee Dracula movie. It’s one of Ripper’s largest roles.
A close second is his portrayal of the former pirate/smuggler turned coffin maker Jeremiah Mipps in the Peter Cushing movie NIGHT CREATURES (1962). In this film, he’s the loyal right hand man to Cushing’s Captain Clegg. It’s one of Ripper’s more dramatic performances.
Here’s a partial list of Ripper’s amazing 220 movie credits, focusing mainly on his Hammer Film appearances:
X-THE UNKNOWN (1956) – Sgt. Harry Grimsdyke
QUATERMASS II: ENEMY FROM SPACE (1957) – Ernie
THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) – with Peter Cushing- Kurt, the grave robber
THE MUMMY (1959)- with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee – Poacher
THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960) – with Peter Cushing- Coach Driver
THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961) – with Oliver Reed – Village Drunk
NIGHT CREATURES (1962) – with Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed- Jeremiah Mipps
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) – with Herbert Lom- Cabbie
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964) – Achmed
THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) – Sgt. Jack Swift
THE REPTILE (1966) – Tom Bailey
THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (1967) – Longbarrow
TORTURE GARDEN (1967) – with Peter Cushing, Jack Palance, and Burgess Meredith- Gordon Roberts
THE LOST CONTINENT (1968) – Sea Lawyer
DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) – with Christopher Lee- Max
TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1969) – with Christopher Lee- Inspector Cobb
SCARS OF DRACULA (1970) – with Christopher Lee- Landlord
THE CREEPING FLESH (1973) – with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee- Carter
LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF (1975) – with Peter Cushing- Sewer man
Michael Ripper provided many memorable movie moments in a career that spanned seven decades, from the 1930s through the 1990s. I will always remember him from his roles in the Hammer Films of the 1950s-70s, although he appeared in many more movies than just the horror movie credits listed here.
Michael Ripper: January 27, 1913 – June 28, 2000.
Thanks for reading everyone!