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Terence Rattigan On Film: The Browning Version

I. The Rattigan Version

After his first dramatic success, The Winslow Boy, Terence Rattigan conceived a double bill of one-act plays in 1946. Producers dismissed the project, even Rattigan’s collaborator Hugh “Binkie” Beaumont. Actor John Gielgud agreed. “They’ve seen me in so much first rate stuff,” Gielgud asked Rattigan; “Do you really think they will like me in anything second rate?” Rattigan insisted he wasn’t “content writing a play to please an audience today, but to write a play that will be remembered in fifty years’ time.”

Ultimately, Rattigan paired a brooding character study, The Browning Version, with a light farce, Harlequinade. Entitled Playbill, the show was finally produced by Stephen Mitchell in September 1948, starring Eric Portman, and became a runaway hit. While Harlequinade faded into a footnote, the first half proved an instant classic. Harold Hobson wrote that “Mr. Portman’s playing and Mr. Rattigan’s writing
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One of Top Stars of Hollywood's Studio Era and Later on a pro-Vietnam War, 'Conservative' Republican, Has Died

Shirley Temple dead at 85: Was one of the biggest domestic box office draws of the ’30s (photo: Shirley Temple in the late ’40s) Shirley Temple, one of the biggest box office draws of the 1930s in the United States, died Monday night, February 10, 2014, at her home in Woodside, near San Francisco. The cause of death wasn’t made public. Shirley Temple (born in Santa Monica on April 23, 1928) was 85. Shirley Temple became a star in 1934, following the release of Paramount’s Alexander Hall-directed comedy-tearjerker Little Miss Marker, in which Temple had the title role as a little girl who, left in the care of bookies, almost loses her childlike ways before coming around to regenerate Adolphe Menjou and his gang. That same year, Temple became a Fox contract player, and is credited with saving the studio — 20th Century Fox from 1935 on — from bankruptcy. Whether or not that’s true is a different story,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Oldest Surviving Credited Gwtw Performer Has Died

Gone with the Wind’ actress Alicia Rhett dead at 98; was oldest surviving credited Gwtw cast member Gone with the Wind actress Alicia Rhett, the oldest surviving credited cast member of the 1939 Oscar-winning blockbuster, died on January 3, 2014, at the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community in Charleston, South Carolina, where Rhett had been living since August 2002. Alicia Rhett, born on February 1, 1915, in Savannah, Georgia, was 98. (Photo: Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.) In Gone with the Wind, the David O. Selznick production made in conjunction with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM head Louis B. Mayer was Selznick’s father-in-law), the stage-trained Alicia Rhett played India Wilkes, the embittered sister of Ashley Wilkes, whom Scarlett O’Hara loves — though Ashley eventually marries Melanie Hamilton (Rhett had auditioned for the role), while Scarlett ends up with Rhett Butler. Based on Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller, Gone with the Wind was (mostly) directed by Victor Fleming
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Oscar-Nominated Actress Featured in One of Universal's Biggest Blockbusters Dead at 99

Oscar-nominated ‘Imitation of Life’ actress Juanita Moore has died Juanita Moore, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee for the 1959 blockbuster Imitation of Life, died on New Year’s Day 2014 at her home in Los Angeles. According to various online sources, Juanita Moore (born on October 19, 1922) was 91; her step-grandson, actor Kirk Kahn, said she was 99. (Photo: Juanita Moore in the late ’50s. See also: Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner photos at the 50th anniversary screening of Imitation of Life at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.) Juanita Moore movies The Los Angeles-born Juanita Moore began her show business career as a chorus girl at New York City’s Cotton Club. According to the IMDb, Moore was an extra/bit player in a trio of films of the ’40s, including Vincente Minnelli’s all-black musical Cabin in the Sky (1942) and Elia Kazan’s socially conscious melodrama Pinky (1949), in which Jeanne Crain plays a (very,
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The 'Jeanette MacDonald' of Central European Cinema Dead at 101

Marta Eggerth: Operetta and film star — a sort of Jeanette MacDonald of Central European cinema — dead at 101 Marta Eggerth, an international star in film and stage operettas who frequently performed opposite husband Jan Kiepura, died on December 26, 2013, at her home in Rye, New York. The Budapest-born Eggerth had turned 101 last April 17. (Photo: Marta Eggerth ca. 1935.) Although best known for her roles in stage musicals such as the Max Reinhardt-directed 1927 Hamburg production of Die Fledermaus, and various incarnations of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Marta Eggerth was featured in nearly 40 films. The vast majority of those were produced in Austria and Germany in the 1930s, as the Nazis ascended to power. Marta Eggerth films Marta Eggerth films, which frequently made use of her coloratura soprano voice, include Max Neufeld’s drama Eine Nacht im Grandhotel ("A Night at the Grand Hotel," 1931); the Victor Janson-directed musicals Once There Was a Waltz
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Eight-Time Best Actor Academy Award Nominee O'Toole Dead at 81

Peter O’Toole: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ actor, eight-time Oscar nominee dead at 81 (photo: Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’) Stage, film, and television actor Peter O’Toole, an eight-time Best Actor Academy Award nominee best remembered for his performance as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s epic blockbuster Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday, December 14, 2013, at a London hospital following "a long illness." Peter O’Toole was 81. The Irish-born O’Toole (on August 2, 1932, in Connemara, County Galway) began his film career with three supporting roles in 1960 releases: Robert Stevenson’s Disney version of Kidnapped; John Guillermin’s The Day They Robbed the Bank of England; and Nicholas Ray’s The Savage Innocents, starring Anthony Quinn as an Inuit man accused of murder. Two years later, O’Toole became a star following the release of Lawrence of Arabia, which grossed an astounding $44.82 million in North America back in 1962 (approx.
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Tough Dame Totter Dead at 95: One of the Last Surviving Stars of Hollywood Noirs

Femme fatale Audrey Totter: Film noir actress and MGM leading lady dead at 95 (photo: Audrey Totter ca. 1947) Audrey Totter, film noir femme fatale and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player best remembered for the mystery crime drama Lady in the Lake and, at Rko, the hard-hitting boxing drama The Set-Up, died after suffering a stroke and congestive heart failure on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles County. Reportedly a resident at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, Audrey Totter would have turned 96 on Dec. 20. Born in Joliet, Illinois, Audrey Totter began her show business career on radio. She landed an MGM contract in the mid-’40s, playing bit roles in several of the studio’s productions, e.g., the Clark Gable-Greer Garson pairing Adventure (1945), the Hedy Lamarr-Robert Walker-June Allyson threesome Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945), and, as an adventurous hitchhiker riding with John Garfield,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Italian Siren of Sword-and-Sandal Epics, Sex Comedies Has Died: Rossana Podestà

Rossana Podestà dead at 79: ‘Helen of Troy’ actress later featured in sword-and-sandal spectacles, risqué sex comedies (photo: Jacques Sernas and Rossana Podestà in ‘Helen of Troy’) Rossana Podestà, the sensual star of the 1955 epic Helen of Troy and other sword-and-sandal European productions of the ’50s and ’60s — in addition to a handful of risqué sex comedies of the ’70s — died earlier today, December 10, 2013, in Rome according to several Italian news outlets. Podestà was 79. She was born Carla Dora Podestà on August 20, 1934, in, depending on the source, either Zlitan or Tripoli, in Libya, at the time an Italian colony. According to the IMDb, the renamed Rossana Podestà began her film career in 1950, when she was featured in a small role in Dezsö Ákos Hamza’s Strano appuntamento ("Strange Appointment"). However, according to online reports, she was actually discovered by director Léonide Moguy, who cast her in a small role in
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Kent on Marilyn: 'a totally insignificant little blonde' off-screen

Jean Kent: ‘The Browning Version’ 1951, Gainsborough folds (photo: Jean Kent in ‘The Browning Version,’ with Michael Redgrave) (See previous post: “Jean Kent: Gainsborough Pictures Film Star Dead at 92.”) Seemingly stuck in Britain, Jean Kent’s other important leads of the period came out in 1948: John Paddy CarstairsAlfred Hitchcock-esque thriller Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948), with spies on board the Orient Express, and Gordon Parry’s ensemble piece Bond Street. Following two minor 1950 comedies, Her Favorite Husband / The Taming of Dorothy and The Reluctant Widow / The Inheritance, Kent’s movie stardom was virtually over, though she would still have one major film role in store. In what is probably her best remembered and most prestigious effort, Jean Kent played Millie Crocker-Harris, the unsympathetic, adulterous wife of unfulfilled teacher Michael Redgrave, in Anthony Asquith’s 1951 film version of Terence Rattigan’s The Browning Version — a Javelin Films production
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Another Major Movie Star Gone in Late November

Jean Kent: British film star and ‘Last of the Gainsborough Girls’ dead at 92 (photo: actress Jean Kent in ‘Madonna of the Seven Moons’) News outlets and tabloids — little difference these days — have been milking every little drop from the unexpected and violent death of The Fast and the Furious franchise actor Paul Walker, and his friend and business partner Roger Rodas this past Saturday, November 30, 2013. Unfortunately — and unsurprisingly — apart from a handful of British publications, the death of another film performer on that same day went mostly underreported. If you’re not "in" at this very moment, you may as well have never existed. Jean Kent, best known for her roles as scheming villainesses in British films of the 1940s and Gainsborough Pictures’ last surviving top star, died on November 30 at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, England. The previous day, she had suffered a fall at her
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Film actress Jean Kent dies, aged 92

Film actress Jean Kent dies, aged 92
Film and television star Jean Kent has died, aged 92.

The actress became one of Britain's biggest entertainment stars in the 1940s and 1950s, appearing in 45 films during her career.

Close friend and film critic Michael Thornton confirmed that she was injured at her home in Westhorpe, Suffolk, and later died in hospital.

Thornton said: "I knew Jean for more than 50 years. She was a feisty, funny, outspoken character who never took herself too seriously.

"She knew what it meant to be a star and regarded it as her job to live up to that position and never to disappoint the public."

Her last public appearance was back in 2011, when she was honoured by the British Film Institute.

Kent starred opposite the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Michael Redgrave and Laurence Olivier among others.

She appeared in several Gainsborough melodramas, which became hugely popular during World War II.

Kent was married to
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

Jean Kent obituary

Popular stalwart of film classics such as The Browning Version and Fanny By Gaslight

Jean Kent, the fiery, sexy, red-haired bad girl of British movies in the 1940s, who has died aged 92, was a fine actor, and clearly enjoyed life, her work and – while it lasted – her cinema fame. While never a top star, she gained a considerable following, and from the 1960s appeared regularly on television. Her film breakthrough came as a result of stage work: after the revue Apple Sauce, starring Vera Lynn and Max Miller, reached the London Palladium in 1941, she was offered a long-term contract, and the first of her Gainsborough Pictures appearances came in It's That Man Again (1943), with another wartime entertainer, the radio comic Tommy Handley.

It took another four films for her to make her first real mark as Lucy, the friend of Phyllis Calvert in the title role of the melodrama Fanny By Gaslight,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

R.I.P. Jean Kent

British film and television actress Jean Kent has died after suffering a fall, per UK reports. She was 92. Kent made her name in the 1940s and 1950s starring in a number of melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures, including Fanny By Gaslight, Bees In Paradise, Madonna of the Seven Moons, and The Wicked Lady. On another Gainsborough film, 1946′s Caravan, she met actor and future husband Josef Ramart. They starred together again in the 1949 musical comedy Trottie True. Kent moved into television in the 1950s, appearing in shows including Epilogue to Capricorn, Sir Francis Drake, and Thicker Than Water. Notable film roles came opposite Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl and in Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse.
See full article at Deadline TV »

Actress Jean Kent, Who Starred Alongside Marilyn Monroe, Dies

Actress Jean Kent, Who Starred Alongside Marilyn Monroe, Dies
London — Jean Kent, one of the biggest British film stars of the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 92.

Kent was injured in a fall at her home in Suffolk, England, on Thursday, and died in hospital in Bury St. Edmunds on Friday.

She rose to fame playing in a series of costume melodramas for Gainsborough Pictures in the 1940s, such as “Fanny By Gaslight,” in which she starred with James Mason and Stewart Granger. She went on to appear in 45 films.

Among her notable perfs were “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957), in which she co-starred with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and “The Browning Version” (1951), where she played alongside Michael Redgrave.

She was honored by the British Film Institute on her 90th birthday in 2011.

Her friend Michael Thornton, an author and former film critic, told the Daily Telegraph: “She knew what it meant to be a star, and regarded
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Actress Jean Kent Dies at 92

Actress Jean Kent Dies at 92
Actress Jean Kent, whose film and television career in the U.K. spanned over five decades, died at age 92, BBC News reported. Family friend Michael Thornton shared the news, stating that the actress suffered an injury at her home in Suffolk and passed away at a hospital.  Kent's roles included turns in Caravan (1946) and The Browning Version (1951), as well as appearing alongside Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).  The British Film Institute honored Kent in 2011. When asked at the ceremony if she had a message for fans, the actress recalled her

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See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Rex Harrison hat on TCM: ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘Anna and the King of SiamRex Harrison is Turner Classic Movies’ final "Summer Under the Stars" star today, August 31, 2013. TCM is currently showing George Cukor’s lavish My Fair Lady (1964), an Academy Award-winning musical that has (in my humble opinion) unfairly lost quite a bit of its prestige in the last several decades. Rex Harrison, invariably a major ham whether playing Saladin, the King of Siam, Julius Caesar, the ghost of a dead sea captain, or Richard Burton’s lover, is for once flawlessly cast as Professor Henry Higgins, who on stage transformed Julie Andrews from cockney duckling to diction-master swan and who in the movie version does the same for Audrey Hepburn. Harrison, by the way, was the year’s Best Actor Oscar winner. (See also: "Audrey Hepburn vs. Julie Andrews: Biggest Oscar Snubs.") Following My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Clive Dunn obituary

Actor best known as Corporal Jones in the classic BBC comedy series Dad's Army

Had it not been for his short stature and elf-like face, the actor Clive Dunn, who has died aged 92, would have liked to play juvenile lead parts. But his loss was the audience's – especially the television audience's – gain. Though he was master of all sorts of old-man parts, he will be remembered with most affection as Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC television send-up of life in the wartime Home Guard, Dad's Army (1968-77).

His dithery butcher, slipping a few favoured lady customers some choice cuts from under the counter and then, in his spare time, trying his ineffectual best to keep order for the officious Captain Mainwaring, became such a popular figure that his catchphrase, "Don't panic!", delivered in the agitated tones of a running chicken hanging on with difficulty to the last shreds of its dignity,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The troubled heart of British postwar cinema

Decades of rainy-Sunday screenings have blinded us to the true nature of postwar British cinema – freedom, naughtiness and a very black humour indeed

It begins with a parrot and a gaucho band. We're in South America – or a tiny patch of it, conjured some 60 years ago on a sound stage in London. The customers wear fur wraps and hair cream. The Atlantic stands, suspiciously immobile, beyond the window. And here is Alec Guinness, a British robber in rich retirement, sitting at a table, grinning a complacent grin and declaring his attachment to the Latin high life in that thin, high, gurgling voice. He is a prototypical Ronnie Biggs – and he's prepared to put his money where his mouth is.

When a conspicuously privileged middle-aged woman stops to talk, Guinness presses a roll of banknotes into her outstretched hands – a donation for the "victims of the revolution". A waiter receives a similarly thick wad of beneficence.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Googie Withers obituary

A striking presence on stage and in the great days of British film, she played the prison governor of TV's Within These Walls

Followers of postwar cinema may well recall Googie Withers's striking presence in It Always Rains On Sunday, an unusually intense film for the Ealing Studios of 1947. A bored wife, she gives shelter to an ex-lover, now a murderer on the run, played by John McCallum, soon to be her real-life husband. The lovers were shown as unsympathetically as they might have been in French film noir, and the weather was bad even by British standards.

What Withers, who has died aged 94, brought to that performance was to define her strength in some of her most powerful roles. Too strong a face and too grand a manner prevented her being thought conventionally pretty, but she was imposingly watchable because of an obvious vigour and sexuality. Thus equipped,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Googie Withers obituary

A striking presence on stage and in the great days of British film, she played the prison governor of TV's Within These Walls

Followers of postwar cinema may well recall Googie Withers's striking presence in It Always Rains On Sunday, an unusually intense film for the Ealing Studios of 1947. A bored wife, she gives shelter to an ex-lover, now a murderer on the run, played by John McCallum, soon to be her real-life husband. The lovers were shown as unsympathetically as they might have been in French film noir, and the weather was bad even by British standards.

What Withers, who has died aged 94, brought to that performance was to define her strength in some of her most powerful roles. Too strong a face and too grand a manner prevented her being thought conventionally pretty, but she was imposingly watchable because of an obvious vigour and sexuality. Thus equipped,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

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