. . . An English Valentino
“Another of the reasons I’m so fond of Pat is because other women like him. The fact that he’s so attractive to women makes me take trouble to keep him interested in me. I couldn’t bother with a man who only liked me and didn’t take any notice of anyone else. I’d think there was something wrong with him!”
Renée Houston, 1936
Pat Aherne – Early Film Career
Patrick Aherne forges a career in silent film in Britain in the 1920s.
. . . he burst in like a hungry schoolboy home from a football match.
He plays his parts with subtlety and economy – turning in performances that are frequently highly praised. This form of acting tends to be mocked later on which is unfair. In fact it’s an astonishingly powerful acting technique and one Pat masters.
He’s frequently an action man in these films. He boxes, he dives and motor-cycles with great finesse. One of his best friends in England is the motorcycle champion Claude Temple, famous for setting land speed records at Brooklands race track.
Pat makes many pictures beginning his film career in 1924.
The flickering silents . . .
Neither good nor bad . . .
London’s Apache has a young street-fighter commonly known as ‘The Basher‘ – this is Pat in ‘Blinkeyes’ – an extraordinary picture from 1926 directed by George Pearson. The script is by Oliver Sandys (Marguerite Jarvis) whose story ‘The Pleasure Garden’ was filmed the year before. A marvellous tale of honour, freedom and morality, please may this amazing ‘lost’ silent, one day resurface.
‘Blinkeyes’, ‘Love’s Option’, ‘A Daughter in Revolt’, ‘The Inseparables’, ‘The City of Play’ and ‘Huntingtower’ are some of the incredible silent films that feature Pat Aherne. The audience are held spellbound by this young male lead, vicariously enduing the trials and tribulations of his characters.
Said to be one of the best kissers in British silent film . . .
Here’s the beautiful Russian actress Vera Voronina in a scene with Pat Aherne in 1927’s ‘Huntingtower’ directed by George Pearson.
The film is made at the Welsh-Pearson Studio on Winchmore Hill. The story, with no shortage of cliff-hanger moments, is care of novelist John Buchan.
The film is guaranteed world release by Famous Players Lasky Organization and Sir Harry Lauder, who has top-billing status, travels to the USA making guest appearances at showings. Here’s a promotional film showing Sir Harry Lauder visiting the Regent Picture House, Glasgow, at the time of the film’s release. Watch
Lauder stars in another film with Pat Aherne – 1929’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in which Sir Harry sings four songs. Films are beginning to have added soundtracks, although the synchronisation of sound is not as perfect as one would like.
Here’s the actress Chili Bouchier in a scene with Patrick Aherne in 1929’s ‘The City of Play’ directed by Denison Clift. A Prussian officer comes to the aid of a circus girl in distress in this dark psychological drama set in Berlin.
Pat loves England. A five year contract is offered by RKO Pictures and he questions whether or not he should take this chance.
Talking pictures are all the rage here but he’s also finding a lack of pioneer spirit in the studios he knows so very well.
“My patience is exhausted and I have accepted a contract for five years. I am very tired of the lack of enterprise shown by British film producing companies.”
Pat Aherne: Interview with a Nottingham newspaper, 1932
He marries Renée Houston in 1932. The day after the wedding, Pat sails for the United States on board the White Star Liner ‘Majestic’, with the promise of a male lead in a Hollywood film at MGM Studios.
Nevertheless, he can’t escape those Houston Sisters and before too long he’s swapping Hollywood fame for a chance to play at maestro. The caption that accompanies this photograph has him down as ‘A Noted Entertainer.‘
Pat and Renée make a few films together in England – for a while, enjoying their ‘Romance in Filmland.’
Pat Aherne – Business Manager
Pat manages the business side of Renée’s variety career between 1935 and 1940.
Silent Man in Talking Films
He’s up for work and for a pint at his local (only after six o’ clock, I might add).
The Plough Pub in Elstree, England – domain of Ma and Pa Cox.
Allied to industry martinets and ever on the pulse . . .
With a clientele perfect for trying out practical jokes.
Pat has an easy-going nature and the confidence of many.
He makes mysterious visits abroad.
He continues to appear in several sound films in the 1930s and 40s in England although never in lead parts.
Pat’s in the Foreign Legion in a scene in ‘Lost In The Legion’.
Or you might find him flicking ash somewhere down Mexico way.
He appears for a little while in the brilliant ‘Return of Bulldog Drummond,’ with Sir Ralph Richardson, in 1934. He’s one of the Bulldog‘s charmingly chipper undercover agents – as British as they come!
At GN Motors, Pat has a sideline selling luxury cars to friends.
Those with plenty of money to spend head for Great Portland Street.
Pat is a supporter of teenage Freddie Mills at the beginning of his professional career in boxing and remains a friend. ‘Fearless Freddie’ fights Jack London in 1941 and later becomes world light heavyweight champion from 1948 to 1950.
Freddie goes on to enjoy success in areas like film and television, becoming a much loved celebrity and owns a club in Manette Street. His later friends (in London’s Soho) aren’t quite so supportive and Freddie dies in mysterious circumstances in 1965.
Pat Aherne – War Work
Pat helps develop the technology to make fighter aircraft safer for pilots during World War II.
Pat Aherne – Later Career
He continues his career in Hollywood in 1947.
great pictures but don’t blink too fast . . .
A Māori exchange, in MGM’s fabulous “Green Dolphin Street’
With Van Helfin
One of his best friends in Hollywood is the versatile actor, George Reeves, famous for:
And Pat has a way of negotiating in tricky circles:
Friend to both the tragic Reeves . . .
and to motion picture fixer and ‘industrial relations’ expert Eddie Mannix.
“Husbands? – Oh, husbands are all right – if you’re always with them. But if you leave them too much and you lose them, you’ve only yourself to blame.”
Renée Houston, 1949