John Qualen

John Qualen


Also Known As
John Oleson, John M. Qualen
Birth Place
Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
December 08, 1899
September 12, 1987
Cause of Death
Heart Failure


John Qualen appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made, but his versatility allowed him to seem like a different man from picture to picture. He specialized in Scandinavians, but actually played various nationalities over the course of his career, which caught its first break in 1929 when he portrayed Carl Olsen, a Swedish janitor in the Broadway play "Street Scene." He recreated ...


John Qualen appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made, but his versatility allowed him to seem like a different man from picture to picture. He specialized in Scandinavians, but actually played various nationalities over the course of his career, which caught its first break in 1929 when he portrayed Carl Olsen, a Swedish janitor in the Broadway play "Street Scene." He recreated the part for a film version two years later, the first of a long line of different movies and accents. The same year as "Street Scene," he was in John Ford's "Arrowsmith," which started a lengthy collaboration with the director. For over 30 years, he belonged to Ford's stock company and appeared in some of his best-known films, often playing working-class men with ethnic names--Lars Jorgensen in "The Searchers," Axel Swanson in "The Long Voyage Home," Ericson in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"--and enunciations to go with them. His characters' accents were sometimes intended for humorous effect; exceptions included Ford's 1940 adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath," in which Qualen played the irrevocably broken Muley Graves. With a Midwestern twang, Graves told the story of farms being foreclosed and homes being destroyed. That unexpectedly haunting accent found its way into a comedy, too--Howard Hawks's 1940 "His Girl Friday," in which Qualen portrayed a convicted murderer. Another role he is widely remembered for is Victor Laszlo's Resistance contact, Berger, in "Casablanca," whose Scandinavian accent fit the cosmopolitan setting perfectly.



Cast (Feature Film)

Frasier, The Sensuous Lion (1973)
Getting Away From It All (1972)
Charlie Erickson
Firecreek (1968)
P. J. (1968)
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)
Jesse Buford
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
Charlie Biller
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Mr. Faber
I'll Take Sweden (1965)
Those Calloways (1965)
Ernie Evans
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
Luther Lindquist
The Prize (1963)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Peter Ericson
Two Rode Together (1961)
Ole Knudsen
Elmer Gantry (1960)
Hell Bent for Leather (1960)
Old Ben
North to Alaska (1960)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Revolt in the Big House (1958)
My World Dies Screaming (1958)
Jonah Snell
The Gun Runners (1958)
The Big Land (1957)
Sven Johnson
The Searchers (1956)
Lars Jorgensen
Johnny Concho (1956)
Unchained (1955)
Leonard Haskins
At Gunpoint (1955)
The Sea Chase (1955)
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Jose Locota
The Other Woman (1954)
Passion (1954)
Gaspar Melo
The Student Prince (1954)
Willie Klauber
I, the Jury (1953)
Dr. R. H. Vickers
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953)
Jonas P. Travis
Francis Covers the Big Town (1953)
Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
Prof. Dingley
Belle Le Grand (1951)
Corky McGee
The Flying Missile (1951)
Lars Hansen
The Jackpot (1950)
Mr. Ferguson
Woman on the Run (1950)
Captain China (1950)
Buccaneer's Girl (1950)
Vegetable man
The Big Steal (1949)
[Julius] Seton
Hollow Triumph (1948)
Reaching from Heaven (1948)
The stranger
16 Fathoms Deep (1948)
Alias a Gentleman (1948)
No End
My Girl Tisa (1948)
Song of Scheherazade (1947)
High Conquest (1947)
Peter Oberwalder
The Fugitive (1947)
A refugee doctor
Adventure (1946)
Model T
River Gang (1945)
Uncle Bill
Captain Kidd (1945)
Bart Blivens
Roughly Speaking (1945)
Ole Olsen
An American Romance (1944)
Anton Dubechek
Dark Waters (1944)
Uncle Norbert Lamont/Pinky
The Impostor (1944)
Swing Shift Maisie (1943)
Horatio Curley
Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1942)
The barber
Tortilla Flat (1942)
Jose Maria Corcoran
Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Sam Bachrach
Arabian Nights (1942)
Casablanca (1942)
Out of the Fog (1941)
Olaf Johnson
All That Money Can Buy (1941)
Miser Stevens
New Wine (1941)
Model Wife (1941)
Million Dollar Baby (1941)
Dr. Patterson
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Coot Royal
Brother Orchid (1940)
Mr. Pigeon
Saturday's Children (1940)
First carpenter
His Girl Friday (1940)
Earl Williams
Angels over Broadway (1940)
Charles Engle
Ski Patrol (1940)
Gustaf Nerkuu
Youth Will Be Served (1940)
Clem Howie
The Long Voyage Home (1940)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Blondie on a Budget (1940)
Mr. Fuddle
On Their Own (1940)
[Abner K.] Peters
Knute Rockne--All American (1940)
Lars Knutson Rockne
Babies for Sale (1940)
Mr. Anderson
Let Us Live (1939)
Four Wives (1939)
Thunder Afloat (1939)
Stand Up and Fight (1939)
Mickey, the Kid (1939)
Honeymoon in Bali (1939)
The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
Subway watchman
Joy of Living (1938)
Outside the Law (1938)
Jim Stoner
The Chaser (1938)
Five of a Kind (1938)
Asa Wyatt
The Texans (1938)
Fifty Roads to Town (1937)
Sheriff Dow
She Had to Eat (1937)
Fit for a King (1937)
Seventh Heaven (1937)
Sewer Rat
Angel's Holiday (1937)
Waldo Everett
The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937)
Nothing Sacred (1937)
Ring Around the Moon (1936)
Bill Harvey
Girls' Dormitory (1936)
The Road to Glory (1936)
Reunion (1936)
Asa Wyatt
The Country Doctor (1936)
Asa Wyatt
Meet Nero Wolfe (1936)
Wife Vs. Secretary (1936)
Mr. Jenkins
Doubting Thomas (1935)
Von Blitzen
Chasing Yesterday (1935)
Black Fury (1935)
Mike [Shemanski]
Thunder in the Night (1935)
Silk Hat Kid (1935)
Mr. Fossbender [Rasmussen]
One More Spring (1935)
Charlie Chan in Paris (1935)
The Three Musketeers (1935)
Orchids to You (1935)
Man of Iron (1935)
The Great Hotel Murder (1935)
Ole [Hanson]
The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935)
Sol Tinker
Whipsaw (1935)
[Will] Dabson
Our Daily Bread (1934)
Chris [Larsen]
Upper World (1934)
365 Nights in Hollywood (1934)
Professor [Herman] Ellenbogen
He Was Her Man (1934)
Servants' Entrance (1934)
Sing and Like It (1934)
Private Scandal (1934)
Straight Is the Way (1934)
Mr. Clapman
Hi Nellie! (1934)
Counsellor at Law (1933)
Johan Breitstein
Let's Fall in Love (1933)
Svente Bjorkman
Street Scene (1931)
Karl Olsen
Arrowsmith (1931)
Henry Novak

Cast (Special)

Doc (1969)

Life Events


Movie Clip

Sea Chase, The (1953) -- (Movie Clip) No Daydreaming Moored off a South Pacific island to collect wood to fuel their way to Chile, German steamer officers Kirchner and Schmidt (Lyle Bettger, John Qualen) are interrupted by captain Ehrlich (John Wayne), who has special instructions regarding their sexy spy passenger (Lana Turner), who is in turn impressed by his consideration for old soldier Schmidt (Paul Fix), in The Sea Chase, 1955.
Black Fury (1935) -- (Movie Clip) Shut Up About The Union! Early events, inside the coal mine Warner Bros. built at the ranch in Calabsas, Ca., John Qualen as honest Mike gets in a spat with newcomer Kroner (J. Carrol Naish) about their union, which gets the attention of popular Joe (Paul Muni), who’s more excited about his wedding, in Black Fury. 1935.
Black Fury (1935) -- (Movie Clip) Old Country Dance At the Pennsylvania coal mine company town, proud “bohunk” miner Joe (Paul Muni) leads his party, including pal Mike (John Qualen) and his maybe-wavering fianceè Anna (Karen Morley), into the dance, even greeting the company cops (Ward Bond, and William Gargan as Slim), in Warner Bros.’ controversial Black Fury, 1935.
Black Fury (1935) -- (Movie Clip) It's My Coal! Miners’ union men Tommy (Tully Marshall) and Mike (John Qualen) are checking membership at the gate, the morning after their popular pal Joe (Paul Muni) got drunk after his girl dumped him, and accidentally joined a crooked anti-union uprising, led by agitator Kroner (J. Carrol Naish), in Warner Bros.’ Black Fury, 1935.
Big Land, The (1957) -- (Movie Clip) Bathrooms In A House? Taken in by immigrant Johnson (John Qualen) and his widowed daughter-in-law (Julie Bishop) in post-Civil War Kansas, Texas cattle man Morgan (Alan Ladd) and his new drying-out pal Jagger (Edmond O’Brien) learn more about each other and meet ranch hand Ben (James Seay), and the blonde kid is Ladd’s son David, in The Big Land, 1957.
Long Voyage Home, The (1940) -- (Movie Clip) This Ain't No Life Sailor Yank (Ward Bond) gravely injured in a storm at sea, Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell), Ole (John Wayne), Davis (Joseph Sawyer) and Axel (John Qualen) offering what support they can, in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home, 1940, adapted from Eugene O'Neill.
Larceny, Inc. (1942) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Allergic To Badges Ex-cons Pressure (Edward G. Robinson), Weepy (Edward Brophy) and Jug (Broderick Crawford) need to find a way to case the luggage store next door to the bank they're thinking about robbing, young Jackie Gleason the unwitting counter-man, early in Warner Bros.' Larceny Inc., 1942.
Farmer Takes A Wife, The (1935) -- (Movie Clip) Who Is That Lady? Notable as Henry Fonda’s first scene in his first movie, a new arrival in 1853 Rome, NY, after we meet Janet Gaynor as Molly, Charles Bickford as canal-boat captain Jotham, with Jane Withers, Margaret Hamilton, John Qualen, Andy Devine, Slim Summerville among the locals, in The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1935.
Counsellor At Law (1933) -- (Movie Clip) If You're Tired Of Living Empathetic lawyer Simon (John Barrymore), with employees (Isabel Jewell as “Bessie,” Bebe Daniels as “Rexy,”), is in a hurry to see ex-defendant Breitstein (John Qualen), for whom he justifiably faked an alibi years earlier, in Counsellor At Law, 1933, directed by William Wyler.
Our Daily Bread (1934) -- (Movie Clip) You Yoking? John (Tom Keene) begins work, Mary (Karen Morley) watching, and John Qualen (as "Chris") arrives with farming know-how and an early sample of his famous "Sveedish" accent, in King Vidor's Our Daily Bread, 1934.
Our Daily Bread (1934) -- (Movie Clip) Why Pay Rent? Values expressed with road signs in what later became Tarzana, California, as volunteers gather and get interviewed by farmer John (Tom Keene) in King Vidor's self-financed Depression drama Our Daily Bread, 1934.
Our Daily Bread (1934) -- (Movie Clip) We Start Here! John (Tom Keene) rouses the workers and Chris (John Qualen) breaks the earth as the collective farming begins in King Vidor's Depression drama Our Daily Bread, 1934.