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.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

People We Like: Anton Walbrook, actor

A moment to remember that debonair, suave Viennese actor Anton Walbrook [1896-1967]. What an impressive legacy he left. His key role for me is of course as Boris Lermontov in Powell & Pressburger's THE RED SHOES in '48. Lermontov is the obsessive head of the dance company who puts art above everything else. We can watch him over and over in this. It was also good to catch up with his demented gambling obsessive in Dickinson's THE QUEEN OF SPADES recently, a classy revival from 1949 introducing Edith Evans as the countess with the secret of winning at cards.

Walbrook began in the 1930s in lots of Austrian and German films including the first version of VIKTOR UND VICTORIA, MICHAEL STROGOFF and as Prince Albert opposite Anna Neagle in those two Queen Victoria films VICTORIA THE GREAT and 60 GLORIOUS YEARS. He is also the evil mastermind in the first GASLIGHT and other classics like THE 49TH PARALLEL and Powell's THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP. I must catch up with Powell's OH ROSALINDA! where he stars. He later appeared in the '50s as Ludwig of Bavaria in Max Ophuls' LOLA MONTES and of course in Ophuls' LA RONDE and in I ACCUSE, and later television work including as Waldo Lydecker in a German version of LAURA!

He has a simple grave in that actors' churchyard at St Johns church in Hampstead, London, a lovely 18th century spot, just opposite Kay Kendall. It says "Anton Walbrook, Actor". How very appropriate.


  1. How wonderful to know that he is buried opposite Kay Kendall - two great favorites of mine, both gone too young. Walbrook was just brilliant! I would venture to say that if I had been voting I would have given him 1948's Best Actor Oscar for "The Red Shoes" over Olivier's Hamlet..and of course Walbrook was not even nominated! One of many shameful occurances in Oscar history. I need to see many more of his performances, few of which are available easily in the USA, but agree that he was great in "Queen of Spades" as well as "Blimp" and "49th Parallel". In fact his Immigration Office monologue in "Blimp" is about as masterly an exhibition of fine acting as I know of. He is far too under-appreciated nowadays, even though everyone I know of who has seen his work admires him.

  2. On British TV last weekend they showed 'Colonel Blimp' followed by 'The Red Shoes'and I was reminded of what a great and underrated actor AW was.