Nigel Patrick

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This very watchable dry-witted London born gent came from a family of actors. There was something about Patrick that made him so interesting to see on screen. It is unfortunate that he was not offered more significant roles. Having made his screen debut in 1940 at the age of 27, Nigel Patrick had to wait another six years before he was offered a role in this television play. The late 40’s, early 50’s were the period when live television plays were in currency, and Patrick managed to ride the crest of the waves.

He made his stage debut in 1932 and established his reputation in stylish plays. He progressed to films in 1939 but his career was immediately interrupted after only one movie appearance by WWII, serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the infantry. He managed to regain his footing in films during the post-war years and played a number of doubting debonairs and high ranking officials in both the lead and second lead capacity.

One of his earlier films (although mainly a character one is that of Tony Garthwaite (Ralph Richardsons son-in-law) in David Leans Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952). This movie shows Britain at its stiff upper lip best. It is the story of mans obsession with speed, and a plane makers ambition to succeed in building a supersonic jet. Richardson plays the tycoon whose dream kills his son and son-in-law, but who finally sees the error of his ways and his daughter returns to the cold family home with his grandson.

Also in 1952 he starred with Valerie Hobson in Meet me Tonight (the stage version of 3 Noel Coward written plays). That same year saw the excellent ‘The Pickwick Papers’ (1952). Nigels military service was also used to good effect in a number of films during the 1950’s as British Cinema churned out a prolific number of action movies. These films included Roy Ward Bakers ‘Morning Departure’ (1950) and Lewsis Gilberts ‘The Sea Shall Not Have Them’ (1954). He even managed to make a couple of films about ex-military men turned to crime in austere times, one of them was ‘A Prize of Gold’ (1955) and the other ‘The League of Gentlemen’ (1959).


This latter film solidified his cinematic status and purposefulness. He played a character called Race who eventually becomes good friends with his criminal employer Jack Hawkins (both of whom of course are ex-army). Now, I’m a great Hawkins fan, but I have to say that Patricks rakish characterisation makes me capable of watching the movie again and again.

He also was nominated for a Golden Glode a couple of years before League in the American Civil War drama 'Raintree Country’ (1957). The film itself is excellent but it is also one of Nigels finest roles as a roguish schoolmaster with an eye for other men's wives. He steals all of his scenes, impatiently bellowing at or comically insulting his young charges and generally pumping some fire and energy into the film.







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