Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bryan Forbes, 1926-2013

The death was announced yesterday of Bryan Forbes, a British actor turned director whose career spanned from the late 1940s through the early 1990s. Forbes was 86.

Looking through Forbes' acting credits, they seem to be for the most part stuff a bit down the credits in British films I don't too much about, since I'm on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Movies that might be better known to American movie buffs include a smaller role in Man With a Million, which stars Gregory Peck as the subject of an experiment between to wealthy British eccentrics over what perceived wealth can get somebody; or The Key, which stars Sophia Loren as a women looked after by a series of World War II salvage boat captains (notably William Holden and Trevor Howard).

Forbes also wrote screenplays, as for the 1960 film The League of Gentlemen, in which he also acted. Jack Hawkins stars as a cashiered World War II British army veteran who wants to gain revenge. So, he finds a bunch of other men who were similarly drummed out of the service, and assembles them for a brilliant scheme to rob a bank. And they would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for that meddling kid.... TCM showed this one a few months back when they had a month of hesit films, and it's really quite entertaining.

This was also about the time when Forbes got into directing. One of his first directorial efforts was The L-Shaped Room, a movie I briefly mentioned some time back. Leslie Caron stars as a pregnant young Frenchwoman who comes to London to have the baby, and stays in the titular L-shaped room, where she meets a bunch of interesting characters. Perhaps better-known from the 1960s might be King Rat, about a prison camp for Allied POWs in Singapore after the Japanese conquest of the city-state. The one of Forbes' 1960s movies that I blogged about was Deadfall, which is unfortunately not all that good, down to a lousy plot more than the direction.

American audiences will probably remember Forbes most, however, for one of the movies he made in the 1970s: The Stepford Wives, which I apparently haven't done a full-length post about. I thought I had, but then, this is one of those movies where the main theme is known even by people who don't necessarily consider themselves movie buffs.

Forbes is survived by his wife of 58 years, actress Nanette Newman, who also appeared in some of Forbes' movies, such as that 1966 comedy The Wrong Box.

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