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.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

People We Like: Michael Craig


England’s forgotten leading man? Decades before Daniel there was another Craig – that personable leading man Michael Craig – who had a good career in English movies of the ’50s and early ‘60s. His biography illustrates the chequered careers people had back then. Born in India (where his father was in the army) in 1928 and moved to Canada when aged 3 he was back in England by the late 40s and working in the theatre. He secured a Rank Organisation contract and began a good run in movies initially being groomed as a new Dirk Bogarde – Craig plays support to Bogarde in the 1957 CAMPBELL’S KINGDOM.

Other roles of the time included EYEWITNESS, HIGH TIDE AT NOON, a good war adventure SEA OF SAND in 1958, the faithless lover who gets a bullet in YIELD TO THE NIGHT, a tense crime thriller PAYROLL, a Police inspector in the thriller SAPPHIRE, THE SILENT ENEMY, with Belinda Lee in the African romance NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT, plus studio fodder like LIFE IN EMERGENCY WARD 10 and the quite funny UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS (where he has a very funny sequence with Joan Sims), and an airport drama CONE OF SILENCE.

He co-wrote THE ANGRY SILENCE in 1960, one of those strong dramas of the time. co-starring with Attenborough, and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND with Joan Greenwood is a jolly good 1961 version of the Jules Verne classic which still gets played a lot today. There were other leading roles like stepping into Bogarde’s shoes for DOCTOR IN LOVE, and another good drama LIFE FOR RUTH in 1962.

Craig also did a lot of television and theatre (left), and a good leading role was opposite Susan Hayward in STOLEN HOURS in ’63, and co-starring with Claudia Cardinale (who had a small part in his UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS) in Visconti’s intense drama SANDRA (or OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS or VAGHE STELLE DELL ORSA) in 1965 [which I have already written about here, as it was a pleasure to finally see it again recently]. He co-starrred in LIFE AT THE TOP and had a supporting role in Losey’s MODESTY BLAISE where he is fun trying to unzip Monica Vitti in that cat suit!

With Cardinale and Jean Sorel in Visconti's SANDRA (OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS) in 1965:


Then a prize leading stage role which I saw in 1966 (when I was new in London): opposite that new star Barbra Streisand in the London production of FUNNY GIRL – where he is an ideal Nicky Arnstein. His programme page is below (click to enlarge):



He then went on work with Julie Andrews as one of her suitors in STAR!, that 1968 box office disaster which was enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. He was in the film of that great stage play I enjoyed at the OId Vic: THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN in 1969 and lots more television roles including that laughable series TRIANGLE which really was so bad it was good and had a cult following! but working actors keep working: Losey and Visconti one year, an Amicus horror compendium the next; there was of course that new crowd to compete with - Alan Bates seemed to be getting all the choice parts... [Bogarde, More, Todd etc were all in the same boat, with Dirk heading off to Europe.]

Australia beckoned for Craig with movies like THE IRISHMAN in 1978. Michael still resides there and is more or less retired now but still works in items like MARY BRYANT in 2005.

Most personable young actors starting out get 10 good years if they are lucky and then continue in lesser parts, and Michael certainly had a decent career at that interesting time from the mid-‘50s to the mid-‘60s working with a lot of my favourite people. It's always a pleasure to see him. Below: STOLEN HOURS with Hayward.
Next: Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Glynis Johns, Flora Robson, Billie Whitelaw, Trevor Howard, Anita Ekberg, Stephen Boyd, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, maybe even Laurence Harvey.
Previous: David Hemmings, Stewart Granger, Michael Redgrave, Genevieve Bujold, Kay Kendall, Joan Greenwood, Gladys Cooper, Capucine, Romy Schneider, Anouk Aimee, Francoise Dorleac, Lilli Palmer, Alida Valli, Silvana Mangano, Ingrid Thulin, Stanley Baker, Belinda Lee, Dolores Gray, Janet Leigh, Jeffrey Hunter, Jean Sorel, Vittorio De Sica etc. as per labels.

2 comments:

  1. I experienced great pleasure to visit your blog.
    Good luck. Until new appointments
    Jonas

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very interesting on Craig and Baker, both under-appreciated now, and I had never heard of Belinda Lee! You have a great insight into actors and their careers. Well done! I am looking forward to more.

    ReplyDelete