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.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

RIP, continued

Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) aged 90, later Lord Attenborough. Who would have thought that the young actor playing his first role as the scared sailor in Lean and Coward's IN WHICH WE SERVE in 1942 would go on to have such an enduring career as actor, director, producer and represent the British film industry. Busy acting throughout the '40s, '50s and '60s - he is also one of the airmen in my favourite A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATHBRIGHTON ROCK is an enduring classic where his Pinky still chills - he and his wife Sheila Sim were established by the early '50s (both were in the first cast of THE MOUSETRAP, still runnng now) and he was one of those BOYS IN BROWN along with Dirk Bogarde, it was fun to catch up with that last year.. I liked his late '50s movies like SOS PACIFIC, JET STORM, I'M ALRIGHT JACK, THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN. All the gushing tributes ignored all his acting roles in those '50s programmers. 
He went into production with pal Bryan Forbes as they formed Beaver Films setting up their own projects like THE ANGRY SILENCE (a good discovery this year), WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (where he delivered another powerful peformance. He was in THE GREAT ESCAPE, GUNS AT BATASITHE SAND PEBBLES and later 60s roles included DR DOLITTLE and two with Lee Remick (Inspector Trustcott in the dreadful film of Orton's LOOT, and A SEVERED HEAD from the Iris Murdoch hit), he was another chilling murderer in 10 RILLINGTON PLACE and in Satyajit Ray's THE CHESS PLAYERS
He then directed his first film OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR (one to re-visit) with that astonishing cast (Maggie Smith and Vanessa Redgrave were standouts) and powerful images - in those pre-computer graphic years all those white crosses at the end had to be placed by hand). GANDHI of course in 1982 brought him the Best Director Oscar and was best film, I am looking forward to seeing it on Blu-ray soon, and CRY FREEDOM, A BRIDGE TOO FAR, YOUNG WINSTON, MAGIC, SHADOWLANDS, were all successful - less so were his A CHORUS LINE and his film on Chaplin. 
Lord Attenborough was also very busy behind the scenes, being on the boards of many organisations like Channel 4, the BFI, and Chelsea Football Club, as well as lots of charitable organisations. He returned to acting for Spielberg in JURASSIC PARK. His enduring popularity ensured that he had, for over half a century, played an integral part in British cultural life. 
I found myself standing next to him and his wife at the BFI in 1970, as we waited for the Dirk Bogarde lecture, and he chatted away to me and signed my programme. In declining health in recent years, and having lost his daughter and grand-daughter in the 2004 tsunami, he and Sheila had moved to a retirement home. The BBC had prepared an hour long tribute which they screened this week, highlighting his varied careers and the affection and high regard in which he will continue to be held.  

Sandy Wilson, another 90 year old - English composter and lyricist, best known for his THE BOY FRIEND, that 1920s pastiche which has been very successful over the years (and which gave the young Julie Andrews her first success), and Ken Russell filmed it in 1971, though Wilson hated that version! Set in Mme Dubonnet’s finishing school on the French Riviera, The Boy Friend concerns a group of Bright Young Things intent on snaring “that certain thing called the boyfriend” — a lightweight plot which served mainly as aframework for a series of catchy songs, including It’s Never Too Late To Fall In Love, Won’t You Charleston With Me and I Could Be Happy With You.

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