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.
|1924||Tons of Money (prod. only)|
|1930||Canaries Sometimes Sing|
|1931||Tons of Money (dir. only)|
|1931||A Night Like This|
|1933||A Cuckoo in the Nest|
|1933||The Blarney Stone|
|1934||Dirty Work (dir. only)|
|1934||A Cup of Kindness|
|1935||Me and Marlborough (act. only)|
|1935||Lady in Danger|
|1938||Second Best Bed|
|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)|
Tom Walls at Amazon UK
Tom Walls at Amazon US