Whilst he had already been nominated for an Oscar in ‘Mourning
Becomes Electra’ (1947) it was ironically a film that garnered
him with no accolates that was perhaps his finest role. The 1955 film
‘The Dambusters’ where he provided us with a character study
into the persona of the aircraft engineer responsible for designing
the bouncing bomb used on the Mohne Dam during World War 2. Like many
actors, with many roles – one film came along that he was made
for the role – this role was Barnes Wallace. Redgrave plays the
character to perfection, with some touching emotion, clear pragmatic
frustration and great lines!
At one point whilst trying to secure a Wellington to try out the bomb,
he debates the matter with a civil servant, intent on not giving him
one. The minister says:
‘is there no argument I could put forward to help you make your
case for lending you a Wellington?'
‘do you think it would it help if you told them I designed it?’
Well perhaps that’s British humour. But undoubtedly the portrayal
by Todd and Redgrave made the film believable and lifted it from just
being something memorable to something that is unforgettable.
He married fellow thespian Rachel Kempson on the 20th July 1935 and
was with her until he died, 50 years later.
During a BBC film Michael Redgrave: My Father, narrated by Corin Redgrave
(1996), there is some disucsion of his fathers bisexuality. In an interview
with his wife, Rachel Kempson, she tells the story of when she proposed
to him, Redgrave said that there were "difficulties to do with
his nature, and that he felt he ought not to marry". She said that
she understood, it didn't matter and that she loved him. To this, Michael
replied "Very well. If you're sure, we will".
Sir Michael made an invaluable contribution to British films and specifically
British theatre, a true English gentleman his like will not be seen
I didn't think I'd be any good in films... I couldn't imagine myself
on the screen. Besides, there were such exciting things to do in the
theatre, so much to learn.
- My father' 1996
becomes Electra (1947)
Time without pity (1957)