Rains is captivating. One of his most recognizable roles is that of Captain Renault from Casablanca (1942). He moves from a despicable opportunist who uses his position to extort money and sex to the archetype of a loyal friend in the last few minutes of the film. The progression is convincing and, in retrospect, unsurprising.
The role encapsulates his career (perhaps with the exception of Hitchcock’s Notorious). Whatever the part he plays, the same qualities are there: a cool, calculating distance always within the context of gentility and humor. Whether hero or villain, he is the same.
Morality is not a definitive part of his character. Like the color of his hair, it can shift without changing his identity.
He is a character from an Abercrombie or Martin novel.