He had had only small parts in movies: Granny Get Your Gnu (40, George Amy). But after Oscar, he went to Fox and over the next five years put together some florid character studies. He could be contemporary and malicious—as in This Gun for Hire (42, Frank Tuttle)—but he is at his best as a cultivated man possessed by evil.
He was in Hudson's Bay (40, Irving Pichel); Blood and Sand (41, Rouben Mamoulian); Charley’s Aunt (41, Archie Mayo); Wake Up Screaming (41, Bruce Humberstone); Joan of Paris (42, Robert Stevenson); Rings On Her Fingers (42, Mamoulian); Ten Gentlemen from West Point (42, Henry Hathaway); The Black Sican (42, Henry King); as a suave Devil in Heaven Can Wait (43, Ernst Lubitsch); and Holy Matrimony (43, John M. Staid).
He finished with his best work, two enjoyably lurid accounts of mad genius for John Brahm: as Jack the Ripper in The Lodger (44), and the “composer.” George Harvey Bone, in Hangover Square. However, the film of Hangover Square is also a wretched travesty of Patrick Hamilton’s novel (in which Bone is not a composer). Cregar had urged the book on the studio; and he was mortified by the result. His friend George Sanders (who is in the film) believed that the shock hastened Gregar’s death. Hangover Square—for all Brahms style, and Bernard Herrmanns mad music—still waits to be filmed properly.
Cregar was an oddity who had a short hour at the feast. Younger than he looked and seriously overweight, he went in for fierce diets that contributed to fatal heart strain, he would not have been as interesting il lean, for he was the perfect example of shambling bulk harboring an etiolated spirit. It helps explain his high-strung menace and fastidious grossness to note that, at the beginning of his career, he had a great success playing Oscar Wilde on stage.