Julie Christie gets all the respect and attention as THE English new star of the 60s but she was really the first in a line which included Susannah York, Sarah Miles, Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave, Samantha Eggar, Susan Hampshire, Jane Asher. Nice to see that they are all still working. [Others like Julia Foster or Barbara Ferris or Jane Merrow did not last as long or may have retired early.] Actually Susannah began before the others...
I always liked Susannah as much as Julie and Susannah was certainly a lot more prolific in the decades since their early 60s debuts. Susannah is particularly effective in THE GREENGAGE SUMMER in 1961 [after her debut in TUNES OF GLORY], in this engaging Ronald Neame film with Kenneth More and Danielle Darrieux. TOM JONES in 1963 was as big a hit as you could imagine then, and she is absurdly young opposite William Holden and Capucine in THE SEVENTH DAWN in 1964. Her image was really the perfect English rose as opposed to the more angular Christie, and her looks were just as individual with those wide eyes and features and distinctive voice.
Huston's FREUD in 1962 where she appears opposite Montgomery Clift has been a long unseen film, but I finally obtained a copy recently so will be looking forward to finally seeing that.
A varied selection of hit and miss movies followed: a forgettable comedy with Warren Beatty KALEIDOSCOPE (I can't remember a thing about it), adventure with Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI, comedy with Dirk Bogarde in SEBASTIAN, popping up in OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR and BATTLE OF BRITAIN (looking like a 60s dolly bird rather than the 40s period required), and of course Aldrich's sensation from 1968: THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE playing house with Beryl Reid and that scene with Coral Browne as Mercy Croft from the BBC. There was another period romp in LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS and of course the worthy MAN FOR ALL SEASONS.
She was marvellous in Pollack's THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY? in 1969 as the starlet cracking up during the dance marathon and was Oscar-nominated as best supporting actress [Goldie Hawn won for CACTUS FLOWER]. One of the missing ones I did not see at the time was the intriguing (now) DUFFY one of the hip movies of the time featuring James Coburn and James Fox.
[Edit: having now seen DUFFY it is indeed an amusing late 60s caper with those beautiful people, rich hippes in a rather stoned North Africa, and Susannah is certainly at her most beautiful here.]
The early 70s saw her as a tv JANE EYRE (surely too attractive), an odd drama with O'Toole: COUNTRY DANCE, and something called HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE with Rod Steiger. Did anyone see that?
Robert Altman's IMAGES was fascinating with Susannah reading the children's stories she had written, and it was all about her. Its certainly a cult film, with Susannah embracing the nudity of the time. A more torrid guilty pleasure is X, Y AND ZEE [or ZEE & CO] where a very pallid Susannah is overpowered by Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine - I'm afraid its one to laugh at now.
I saw her on the stage with Glenda Jackson doing Genet's THE MAIDS, probably in 1973, this was later filmed as part of the American Theatre series.
Other films like THE SHOUT and ELIZA FRASER followed and then came Superman's mother in SUPERMAN with Brando. But of course the typical scenario followed of roles drying up as an actress gets older, but Susannah had lots of television work like the series WE'LL MEET AGAIN and she continued in theatre in various projects including her show on Shakespeare's Women.
Susannah would appear to have worked with everyone and has always been very unpretentious about her stardom - I once found myself drinking next to her at the London "theatrical" pub The Salisbury as she chatted to a colleague.