Monday, February 8, 2010

Ian Carmichael

Early this morning I found out that one of my favourite actors, Ian Carmichael, had died on Friday. Last week I posted about how I love 1950's/early '60's British comedies, well Mr. Carmichael was one of the top box office stars of the time! He is often thought of as playing slightly inept upper-class twits. That's like saying that Fred only ever danced with Ginger! Most of his characters were charming, naive, well-off, put-upon and amiable gentlemen. In any other hands, these character could have been easily played as the one-dimensional charactures, but because Mr Carmichael was such a fine actor, (he did go to RADA after all) he managed to give every character he played a personality that hinted at what was below the surface of what was otherwise a stereotype and prevented any other actor from stealing the show, while still endearing himself to audiences as the slightly posh Everyman.
When he wasn't acting in films, he also did radio, audio books and was also a narrator (I first heard his voice before I ever saw him act in Cosgrove Hall's The Wind in the Willows). He was also a major television star, playing Bertie Wooster before Hugh Laurie did and fought with the BBC for years in order to bring Lord Peter Wimsey (his best role) to the small screen. I'm actually halfway through reading his autobiography at the moment and my impression is that he was as nice, charming and amusing in person as he was on the screen.
If you've never seen one of his films before or haven't seen one in years, then might I recommend my two favourites: I'm Alright Jack and School for Scoundrels.

Here is a clip from School for Scoundrels were Mr Carmichael and Alistair Sims demonstrate how to One Up a couple of bounders.

And of course, the famous tennis match.

1 comment:

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