Last night marked that sad death of iconic British actor Richard Attenborough. Through 90 years of his life, Attenborough has been a staple of the film industry. Not only has he created some unnerving and stellar performances but he has directed some incredible movies too. And much more than this, but along with BAFTA, he has strived to teach the slews of new talented artists that come in hopes of becoming the best in the British Film Industry. He has truly gifted us with wonderfulness and he will be remembered always. With that in mind, let’s have a look at some essential movies that you should watch in his memory.
The first big role, after a series of side performances, came when director John Boulting (whom he worked with during the war,) cast him as Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock. Playing the charming yet psychopathic teenager, Attenborough stole the scene as the leader of a gang who killed a newspaper reporter. Covering his tracks in the titular seaside town, he falls in love with waitress Rose. However, as the people close to her and him begin to suspect his intentions with her. Though you’ll never know whether Pinkie truly loved her, Attenborough is a powerhouse in this film. Attentive to Pinkie’s masquerade and changing between the delectable charm and the ferocious criminal.
Possibly one of the most watched movies of all time and certainly makes its way through generations. The Great Escape is the war time movie that epitomises Christmas. While many will remark the jovial theme tune, it is actually dark and has an overall theme melancholia, imprisonment and death (Ives, that’s all I’m saying.) Attenborough excels here heading a group of POW’s into a daring tunnelling expedition in secure camp. As RAF Squadron Leader Roger Barlett, he is enigmatic, intelligent and sometimes reverent but all the more determined to succeed. Alongside many, his ending is tragic and more so because of his presence within the camp; an air of leadership and perseverance.
Attenborough took his talents into terrifying territory when he became the embodiment of real life serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place. Playing off an unnerving repertoire with John Hurt, Attenborough was truly scary as the man who lured women back to his home and dispose of them in a grizzly manner. What’s worse is that his unassuming neighbour Timothy Evans (Hurt) is subsequently framed for the killings, becoming the last ever man to be hung in England. Unearthing the times of paranoia and horror lurking behind the safety of doors, Attenborough is remarkably horrifying as Christie. Though the film earned mixed reviews, it has become a cult classic now.
It’s now time to look a movie that saw Attenborough climb behind the director’s chair, earning himself an Oscar for Best Director. Gandhi stars Ben Kingsley (in an Oscar Winning role) as the religious teacher as he fights against racism and England’s occupation of his country in a non-violent and non-co-operative way. Though Kingsley stirring, evocative and realistic portrayal of Gandhi was wonderfully poignant, Attenborough’s direction helped create the most intellectual and emotional biopics of all time. Now people strive to achieve all that Gandhi achieved and it’s hard not to see why. It’s truly a magnificent film and Attenborough quite rightly scooped up Best Director for his phenomenal hard work in 1983.
If there is another film that is consistently on at Christmas that stars Richard Attenborough, it’s this one. The 1990’s certainly marked another level of acting for the actor in his later years. This (forgivable) remark honed in the schmaltz and cheese of Christmas and gave it a gooey loveable centre that will still bring a tear to your eye to this day. Alongside Mara Wilson, Attenborough played white bushy beard Kris Kringle who was hired as a department store Santa thanks to looking and acting the part. However, after a series of events, he is charged with assault and has to stand trial and prove what he claims; that he is the real Father Christmas. Magical and seminal, Attenborough, for countless of children, was really Santa Claus; portraying his character as tender, caring and loveable.
The amazing monster movie franchise is returning to cinemas next year with Jurassic World but no other film will be as insanely good, popular or downright scary as Steven Speilberg’s Jurassic Park (on a side note: check out the CGI effects here because for a nineties movie there were surprisingly on point). Attenborough played the character that started off intellectual at first until you realised that he was a mad-man playing God. The developer of the titular theme park, John Hammond, has found a way to replicate DNA and re-birth dinosaurs. Instead of creating the nice ones (or smaller sized dinos) Hammond creates T-Rex’s and velociraptors and all the deadly ancient beasts that came to play when an electrical fault strips the park, and thus the first visitors, from their defences. An unforgettable action flick, Attenborough excelled as Hammond, a man who should never be trusted with science again.
Richard Attenborough: 1923 - 2014