Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 29 October 2010

People We Like: Claire Bloom

It may be ungallant to mention a lady's age, but in her late '70s its great to see Claire Bloom still acting, cropping up on television shows like DR WHO, THE BILL and NEW TRICKS (where she is an actress who shoots her husband on stage with a real gun). She was also on stage a few years ago, but I missed that.

Claire of course has had an extensive career as star and leading actress since the early '50s when Chaplin chose her for LIMELIGHT lauching her on an illustrous career. Other roles followed in films like Carol Reed's THE MAN BETWEEN in '53 where she and James Mason are ideal together, RICHARD III with Olivier, where she is a compelling Lady Anne, with Richard Burton in ALEXANDER THE GREAT and LOOK BACK IN ANGER and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. She and Burton were in fact lovers for some time during their years with the Old Vic.
She was also with Brynner in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV fo MGM in 1958 and THE BUCCANEER where she is an engaging lady pirate.

She delivers a powerhouse performance as the nymphomaniac in Cukor's THE CHAPMAN REPORT in 1962 and she said in a radio interview recently that Cukor was the best director she worked with.

I saw her on stage in 1974 in a highly acclaimed London production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE as a blonde Blanche. She also said in that radio interview that Blanche is the hardest role for women - comparable to Hamlet or King Lear! Programme notes below (click to enlarge):

Her two films with then husband Rod Steiger, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN in 1969 and THREE INTO TWO WON'T GO are interesting late 60s oddities now. Wise's THE HAUNTING in 1963 is another key role for her (as a slinky lesbian) as she and Julie Harris grapple with that haunted house...other roles of interest include in THE OUTRAGE with Newman and Harvey in '64, Iris Mudoch's A SEVERED HEAD in '70, Lady Marchmain in the original classic series BRIDSHEAD REVISITED and as Merle Oberon's Indian mother in the fun tv series QUEENIE! Other films include 80,000 SUSPECTS and ISLANDS IN THE STREAM and Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS.

She was also a terrific Nora in the 1973 film of A DOLL'S HOUSE, made at the same time as Losey's version with Jane Fonda. It would seem that Bloom's version won hands down in a standard telling of the play, which she also successfully played on stage.

Its good to see Claire still performing. She is one of the survivors of that great generation of British actresses [like Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Glynis Johns] who had success in England and then in Hollywood as well as maintaining links with the theatre and then television. Her revealing autobiography is a fascinating read on her life in the theatre and cinema and those difficult husbands (including a disastrous marraige to writer Philip Roth) and lovers (who included Olivier, Brynner, Anthony Quinn)! Burton though did say that she had been the love of his life ...

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