Sir Michael Redgrave


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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?'
Wallace


‘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 again.

 

Quotes:
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.

Biographies:

'Michael Redgrave - My father' 1996

Suggested films to see:

Mourning becomes Electra (1947)
Time without pity (1957)
The Dambusters(1954)





 

 

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