Saturday, 14 August 2010

Clive Brook (1887-1974)

Clive Brook was an early English film star, both in Britain and in Hollywood; although he started his career (as he ended it) on the London stage; beginning in 1918, after distinguished war service in the First World War. He appeared in his first film in 1920, going off to Hollywood in 1924 (a founding member of Sheridan Morley's 'Hollywood Raj'), where he made a series of films, several of which are noteworthy and some are truly great. Underworld (1927) is an early screen treatment of the criminal underworld and in the 1931 screen adaptation of Noel Coward's successful play Cavalcade (which probably inspired the later television series Upstairs Downstairs), he starred opposite Diana Wynyard, with a strong supporting cast. This film was critically acclaimed across the board and swept up three Oscars plus the nomination of Diana Wynyard for best actress (the first nomination of a British actress for an Academy Award). The New York Times described it as "impressive", "affecting" and "masterful" and it ranks in its list of the best 1000 films ever made. Despite all this, it was not a box office success and, sadly, is seldom screened by the many movie channels on the television.

The photograph shows Brook, Wynyard and (far left), the fine actor Robert Newton in a scene from Cavalcade. Newton should be remembered more for this film and his performance in the 1944 film This Happy Breed than for his hammy Long John Silver (memorable though he was in that role).

In 1932, Brook starred opposite Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express, a thriller set on a train.

Returning to Britain in 1935, he appeared largely on the stage but in 1944 he adapted, directed and starred in the film version of Frederick Lonsdale's play On Approval. He continued acting into the 1960s and his last film appearance was in the 1963 film The List of Adrian Messenger.

Brook was married for many years to Mildred Evelyn and was father to actors Lyndon and Faith Brook.

Left click the image to enlarge it.

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