Morton Selten - Rotten Tomatoes

Morton Selten

Highest Rated:   100% The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Lowest Rated:   100% The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Birthplace:   Not Available
Although remembered today principally for his grandfatherly roles in some of Alexander Korda's best films of the 1930s, Morton Selten's career on stage went back to the 1870s, and encompassed dashing, heroic leading roles. Given the name Morton Richard Stubbs at birth, and claimed as the son of Morton Stubbs, Selten was actually an illegitimate son of the then 19-year-old Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England -- this fact was an open secret among his acting colleagues of the 1930s and was related as recently as 1988 by filmmaker Michael Powell, who directed Selten in his final film appearance, in The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Selten began his theatrical career in 1878, at the age of 18, and quickly moved into leading roles. On stage primarily in America from the 1880s through 1920, he played such dashing parts as the glib-tongued villain Rupert of Hentzau in the theatrical version of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda. By the teens, Selten -- then in his fifties -- had moved into character roles, and at the end of the 1920s was portraying such avuncular figures as Sir Francis Beekman in the stage version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. His last theater parts were in the mid-1930's, by which time he had already begun a screen career, playing character roles in movies such as The Shadow Between (1931) and Service for Ladies (1932). Selten played prominent parts in a variety of movies, including that of Sir Charles Clifford, the intended murder victim of Boris Karloff in the 1936 thriller Juggernaut. His most enduring roles, however, were those he played in movies produced by Alexander Korda, including Fire Over England (1936), in which he portrayed the historical figure of Lord Burleigh, the trusted confidante of Queen Elizabeth I; The Ghost Goes West, in which he played Robert Donat's elderly ghostly ancestor; The Divorce of Lady X, where he portrayed Lord Steele, the senior partner to Laurence Olivier's harried divorce lawyer; and The Thief of Bagdad (1940), the most often shown of all his movies, in which Selten played the King of the Land of Legend, before whom Sabu appears at the climax of the movie, and whose magic carpet provides the young hero with the means of thwarting the villain's plans. Selten's scenes in The Thief of Bagdad were among the earliest shot for the film, and the last work of his career, as he died in July of 1939, soon after the movie had started shooting. Selten is best remembered as an avuncular, belovedly reassuring presence in British films, who could command the screen even in the presence of more obviously extroverted actors. Indeed, he steals practically every scene in which he appears in Fire Over England from the likes of Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and Flora Robson, and is a haunting and touching presence in The Thief of Bagdad.

Highest Rated Movies



100% The Thief of Bagdad
  • King
No Score Yet A Yank at Oxford
  • Cecil Davidson
No Score Yet The Divorce of Lady X
  • Lord Steele, Judge
No Score Yet Fire Over England
  • Burleigh
No Score Yet Action for Slander
  • Judge Trotter
No Score Yet In the Soup
  • Abernathy Ruppershaw
No Score Yet Juggernaut
  • Sir Charles Clifford
No Score Yet I Stand Condemned
  • Kovrin
100% The Ghost Goes West
  • Gavin Glourie
No Score Yet Wedding Rehearsal
  • Maj. Harry Roxbury
No Score Yet Service for Ladies (Reserved for Ladies)
  • Mr. Robertson

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