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Attenborough, Richard

ATTENBOROUGH, Richard



Nationality: British. Born: Richard Samuel Attenborough, Cambridge, England, 29 August 1923; full title, Lord Attenborough, Baron of Richmond upon Thames (from 1993). Education: Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys, Leicester, England; Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) on Leverhulme Scholarship, until 1941. Military Service: Royal Airforce; served in RAF Film Unit, 1944–46. Family: Married Sheila Sim (actress), 1945, son: Michael, daughters: Jane and Charlotte; younger brother is David Attenborough, British TV executive and naturalist. Career: Film acting debut in In Which We Serve, 1942; co-starred with wife Sheila Sim in original stage production of The Mousetrap, 1952; chairman, 1956–88, and president, from 1988, Actor's Charitable Trust; debut as film producer, 1961; chairman of Combined Theatrical Charities Appeals Council, 1964–88; member of Cinematograph Films Council (UK), 1967–73; directorial film debut, Oh! What a Lovely War, 1969; director of Chelsea Football Club (London), 1969–82; chairman of RADA from 1971; chairman of Capital Radio (UK), 1972–92; chairman of Duke of York's Theatre (London, UK), 1979–92; chairman of Goldcrest Films and Television Ltd., 1982–87; president of The Gandhi Foundation, from 1983; member of Committee of Inquiry into the Arts and Disabled People (UK government post), 1983–85; fellow, from 1983, and vice president, 1971–94, BAFTA; president of Brighton Festival (UK), from 1984; president of British Film Year, 1984–86; member of British Screen Advisory Council, from 1987; Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF from 1987; member of European Script Fund, from 1988; head of Channel Four Television (UK), 1987–92; fellow of BFI, from 1992; fellow of FKC, from 1993. Awards: Zulueta Prize for Best Actor, San Sebastián International Film Festival (Spain), for The League of Gentlemen (shared with Jack Hawkins, Bryan Forbes, Roger Livesey, Nigel Patrick), 1960; British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best British Actor, for Guns at Batasi, 1965; San Sebastián International Film Festival Prize for Best Actor, for Séance on a Wet Afternoon, 1964; Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, for The Sand Pebbles, 1967; received CBE, 1967; Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, for Doctor Dolittle, 1968; knighted, 1976; Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, BAFTA Film Awards for Best Direction and Best Film, and Directors' Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (with David Tomblin, assistant director), all for Gandhi, 1983; Evening Standard Film Award for 40 Years' Service to British Cinema, 1983; Berlin International Film Festival Peace Film Award Honourable Mention, for Cry Freedom, 1988; BAFTA Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, for Shadowlands, 1994. Address: Old Friars, Richmond Green, Surrey, TW9 1NQ, UK.

Films as Director:

1969

Oh! What a Lovely War (+ co-pr)

1972

Young Winston

1977

A Bridge Too Far (with Sidney Hayers)

1978

Magic

1982

Gandhi (+ pr)

1985

A Chorus Line

1987

Cry Freedom (+ pr)

1992

Chaplin (+ co-pr)

1993

Shadowlands (+ pr)

1997

In Love and War (+ pr)

1999

Grey Owl (+ pr)



Films as Actor:

1942

In Which We Serve (Coward) (as Young Sailor who leaves post)

1943

Schweik's New Adventures (Lamac) (as Railway worker)

1944

The Hundred Pound Window (Hurst) (as Tommy Draper)

1946

School for Secrets (Secret Flight) (Ustinov) (as Jack Arnold); Journey Together (Boulting) (as David Wilton); A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven) (Powell and Pressburger) (as Young Dead Flyer)

1947

Dancing with Crime (Carstairs) (as Ted Peters); Brighton Rock (Young Scarface) (Boulting) (as Pinkie Brown); The Man Within (Smugglers) (Knowles) (as Francis Andrews)

1948

London Belongs to Me (Dulcimer Street) (Gilliat) (as Percy Boon); The Guinea Pig (The Outsider) (Boulting) (as Jack Read)

1949

Boys in Brown (Tully) (as Jackie Knowles); The Lost People (Knowles) (as Jan)

1950

Morning Departure (Operation Disaster) (Baker) (as Stoker Snipe)

1951

The Magic Box (Boulting) (as Jack Carter); Hell Is Sold Out (Anderson) (as Pierre Bonnet); Eight O'Clock Walk (Comfort) (as Tom Manning)

1952

The Gift Horse (Glory at Sea) (Bennett) (as Dripper Daniels); Father's Doing Fine (Cass) (as Dougall)

1955

The Ship That Died of Shame (Dearden) (as George Hoskins)

1956

The Baby and the Battleship (Lewis) (as Knocker White); Private's Progress (Boulting) (as Pvt. Percival Henry Cox)

1957

The Scamp (Strange Affection) (Rilla) (as Stephen Leigh); Brothers in Law (Boulting) (as Henry Marshall)

1958

Sea of Sand (Desert Patrol) (Green) (as Brody); The Man Upstairs (Chaffey) (as Peter Watson, the Man); Dunkirk (Norman) (as John Holden)

1959

League of Gentlemen (Dearden) (as Edward Lexy); Jet Storm (Killing Urge) (Endfield) (as Ernest Tilley); I'm All Right Jack (Boulting) (as Sidney de Vere Cox); Danger Within (Breakout) (Chaffey) (as Captain Bunter Phillips); SOS Pacific (Green) (as Whitey)

1960

The Angry Silence (Green) (as Tom Curtis) (+ pr)

1961

All Night Long (Dearden) (as Rod Hamilton)

1962

Dock Brief (Trial and Error) (Hill) (as Foreman of the Jury/Fowle/Judge/Member of the Public); Only Two Can Play (Gilliat) (as Probert)

1963

The Great Escape (Sturges) (as Bartlett)


1964

The Third Secret (Crichton) (as Alfred Price-Gorham); Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Forbes) (as Bill Savage) (+ pr); Guns at Batasi (Guillermin) (as Sergeant Major Lauderdale)

1965

The Flight of the Phoenix (Aldrich) (as Lew Moran)

1966

The Sand Pebbles (Wise) (as Frenchy Burgoyne)

1967

Doctor Dolittle (Fleischer) (as Albert Blossom)

1968

The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (McGrath) (as Robert Blossom); Only When I Larf (Dearden) (as Silas); The Magic Christian (McGrath) (as Oxford Coach)

1969

The Last Grenade (Flemyng) (as General Charles Whiteley)

1970

David Copperfield (Mann—for TV) (as Mr. Tungay); A Severed Head (Clement) (as Palmer Anderson)

1971

Loot (Narrizano) (as Truscott); Ten Rillington Place (Fleischer) (as John Reginald Christie)

1972

Conduct Unbecoming (Anderson) (as Lionel Roach)

1974

And Then There Were None (Clair) (as Arthur Cannon)

1975

Brannigan (Hickox) (as Commander Swann); Rosebud (Preminger) (as Edward Sloat)

1977

Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) (Ray) (as General Outram)

1979

The Human Factor (Preminger) (as Colonel John Daintry)

1993

Jurassic Park (Spielberg) (as John Hammond)

1994

Miracle on 34th Street (Mayfield) (as Kriss Kringle)

1996

E=mc2 (Wavelength) (Fry) (as The Visitor); Hamlet (William Shakespeare's Hamlet) (Branagh) (as English Ambassador)

1997

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Spielberg) (as John Hammond)

1998

Elizabeth (Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen) (Kapur) (as Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley)

2000

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2000) (as Jacob)



Publications


By ATTENBOROUGH: books—

In Search of Gandhi, London, 1982.

Richard Attenborough's Chorus Line, London, 1986.

Cry Freedom: A Pictorial Record, London, 1987.


On ATTENBOROUGH: books—

Castell, David, Richard Attenborough: A Pictorial Film Biography, New York, 1984.

Woods, Donald, Filming with Attenborough, New York, 1987.

Robinson, David, Richard Attenborough, London, 1992.

Dougan, Andy, The Actors' Director: Richard Attenborough behindthe Camera, with an introduction by Steven Spielberg, Edinburgh, 1994.


On ATTENBOROUGH: articles—

Robinson, Stephen, "The Liberal Friendship That Wasn't," in Spectator (London), 19 September 1987.

Sampson Anthony, "Attenborough's Biko: The Political Implications of Cry Freedom," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1987–1988.

Dyer, Richard, "Feeling English," in Sight and Sound (London), March 1994.

Sharma, Shaija, "Citizens of Empire: Revisionist History and the Social Imaginary in Gandhi," in Velvet Light Trap (Austin, Texas), Spring 1995.

Arnett, Robert, "Gandhi: A Screenplay Review," in CreativeScreenwriting (Washington, D.C.), vol. 3, no. 4, 1996.

Maland, Charles, "How Much Chaplin Appears in Chaplin? A Look at Attenborough's Screen Biography," in Literature Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 25, no. 1, 1997.


* * *

Richard Attenborough's successful film career as an actor had been established for twenty-seven years when he directed his first feature. Oh! What a Lovely War was an adaptation of Joan Littlewood's London stage show about the First World War and the waste of life caused by incompetent and careless strategists. With a script by spy thriller writer Len Deighton, the film shows hints of Attenborough's future strengths as a director. In particular, the closing shot, in which the camera tracks backwards over a war cemetery, anticipates similar large-scale landscapes and crowd scenes in films such as Gandhi and Cry Freedom. Even the more intimate, and rather disappointing, Shadowlands contains some hallmark Attenborough footage as a small car winds its way through the English countryside.

After completing his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Attenborough began his film career in 1942, playing the role of a frightened young sailor in Noel Coward's acclaimed war film, In Which We Serve. It was a part he would reprise in many British war films during the 1940s and 1950s: as a young actor during World War II, Attenborough made a name for himself representing the ordinary serviceman, struggling to do his duty in the face of overwhelming world events. It was only by taking on character roles such as Pinkie Brown in the 1947 adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, Brighton Rock, that Attenborough managed to avoid becoming type-cast. Yet the impact of those early roles in war films was to be felt in his work as a director: the underlying theme of his best-known film, Gandhi, is of an ordinary man caught up in major historical events yet rising to the challenge with honour, dignity, and self-sacrifice.

Attenborough has claimed that it was always his ambition to make a film of the life of Mahatma Gandhi, and in 1982 Gandhi became his most successful effort as director to date. The film, which won a total of eight Oscars, runs to over three hours and gives a linear biographical account of the founder of modern India. The pace tends to be rather slow, but the Oscar-winning performance of Ben Kingsley in the title role is fascinating to watch, and the film successfully captures a sense both of the vastness of India and the difficulty of the struggle. The overall strength of the film as an uplifting story of courage and sacrifice makes it possible to overlook its simplistic historical vision.

Chaplin was an attempt to repeat the epic life of a little man, but proved similarly questionable as an accurate biopic, and lacks emotional depth. Later films, such as Shadowlands, In Love and War, and Grey Owl are not of the same order as Gandhi, which managed to be both epic and touching.

Attenborough has gained a reputation as a director of long films with epic themes, and his style tends to be technically, rather than emotionally, impressive. His third film as director, the war action film A Bridge Too Far, is a case in point: its all-star cast and ambitious scale tend to detract from the human tragedy of its subject matter, the allied defeat at Arnhem in 1944. A later film, Cry Freedom, has similar limitations. The story of journalist Donald Woods and his investigation of the death of Steve Biko in police custody in South Africa is a gripping thriller, but the film has been criticized for romanticizing the relationship between Woods and Biko. In the end its political impact is reduced by a rather detached mood, and moralizing tone.

When Attenborough has attempted smaller-scale dramas, as in Shadowlands, the effect of such detachment is an awkwardness that goes beyond the psychological difficulties of the main characters. Telling the story of the love affair between writer and Oxford Don C.S. Lewis and the American poet Joy Davidson, who later turns out to be terminally ill, the film was named to Time magazine's top ten list in 1993. But the success of Shadowlands perhaps reflects the strength of the performances of Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger in an otherwise sentimental film.

Distinguished actors and young stars alike continue to be attracted to Attenborough's film projects, and he continues to appear in films as diverse as Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park series and Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. Although he has become better known as a director since the 1970s, it was his success as a character actor and as an important British star in the 1950s and 1960s that enabled him to co-produce and direct his first feature. Having come late to directing, Richard Attenborough, who received a life peerage and was made Lord Attenborough in 1993, has become one of the most important influences in British cinema. The fact that he has continued successfully to direct, produce and act in films since the late 1960s marks him out as a true all-rounder.

—Chris Routledge

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"Attenborough, Richard." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Attenborough, Richard." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/attenborough-richard

Attenborough, (Lord) Richard

ATTENBOROUGH, (Lord) Richard



Nationality: British. Born: Richard Samuel Attenborough in Cambridge, England, 29 August 1923. Education: Attended Wyggeston Grammar School, Leicester; Leverhulme Scholarship, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Military Service: Royal Air Force, 1943–46 (assigned to RAF Film Unit, 1944). Family: Married the


actress Sheila Sim, 1945, one son and two daughters. Career: 1941—first stage appearance as Richard Miller in Ah, Wilderness, Palmers Green, London; 1942—film debut in Noël Coward's In Which We Serve; 1949–59—active as stage actor; 1959—formed Beaver Films with actor-director Bryan Forbes; 1960—formed Allied Filmmakers; 1970—appointed chairman of Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; 1971—vice-president of British Academy of Film and Television (Fellowship 1982); chairman, British Film Institute. Awards: Best Actor, British Academy, for Guns at Batasi and Séance on a Wet Afternoon, 1964; Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actor, for The Sand Pebbles, 1966, and Doctor Dolittle, 1967; Golden Globe for Best Director, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Director, Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and Academy Award for Best Film, for Gandhi, 1982; Berlinale Kamera, for Cry Freedom, 1987; Lifetime Achievement Award, Cinema Expo International, 1995. Commander, Order of the British Empire, 1967; knighted, 1976; Jean Renoir Humanitarian Award, 1987. Address: c/o Richard Attenborough Productions Ltd., Beaver Lodge, Richmond Green, Surrey TW9 1NQ, England.


Films as Actor:

1942

In Which We Serve (Lean and Coward) (as young Stoker)

1943

The Hundred Pound Window (Hurst) (as Tommy Draper); Schweik's New Adventures (Lamac) (as railway worker)

1945

Journey Together (John Boulting) (as David Wilton)

1946

A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven) (Powell and Pressburger) (as English pilot); Secret Flight (School for Secrets) (Ustinov) (as Jack Arnold)

1947

The Man Within (The Smugglers) (Knowles) (as Francis Andrews); Dancing with Crime (Carstairs) (as Ted Peters); Brighton Rock (Young Scarface) (John Boulting) (as Pinky Brown)

1948

London Belongs to Me (Dulcimer Street) (Gilliat) (as Percy Boon); The Guinea Pig (The Outsider) (Roy Boulting) (as Jack Read)

1949

The Boys in Brown (Tully) (as Jackie Knowles)

1950

The Lost People (Knowles) (as Jan); Morning Departure (Operation Disaster) (Baker) (as Stoker Snipe)

1951

Hell Is Sold Out (Anderson) (as Pierre Bonnet); The Magic Box (John Boulting) (as Jack Carter)

1952

The Gift Horse (Glory at Sea) (Bennett) (as Dripper Daniels); Father's Doing Fine (Cass) (as Dougal)

1953

Eight O'Clock Walk (Comfort) (as Tom Manning)

1955

Private's Progress (John Boulting) (as Pvt. Cox); The Ship that Died of Shame (Dearden and Relph) (as George Hoskins)

1956

The Baby and the Battleship (Jay Lewis) (as Knocker White)

1957

Brothers in Law (Roy Boulting) (as Henry Marshall); The Scamp (Strange Affection) (Rilla) (as Stephen Leigh)

1958

Dunkirk (Norman) (as John Holden); The Man Upstairs (Chaffey) (as Peter Watson); Sea of Sand (The Desert Patrol) (Guy Green) (as Trooper Brody)

1959

I'm All Right, Jack (Roy Boulting) (as Sidney de Vere Cox); Jet Storm (Endfield) (as Ernest Tilley); S.O.S. Pacific (Guy Green) (as Whitey); The League of Gentlemen (Dearden) (as Edward Lexy); Danger Within (Breakout) (Chaffey) (as Captain "Bunter" Phillips)

1960

The Angry Silence (Guy Green) (as Tom Curtis, + co-pr)

1961

All Night Long (Relph and Dearden) (as Rod Hamilton)

1962

Only Two Can Play (Gilliat) (as Probert); The Dock Brief (Trial and Error) (Hill) (as Fowle)

1963

The Great Escape (John Sturges) (as Big "X" Bartlett)

1964

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Forbes) (as Billy Savage, + co-pr); The Third Secret (Charles Crichton) (as Alfred Price-Gorham); Guns at Batasi (Guillermin) (as RSM Lauderdale)

1965

The Flight of the Phoenix (Aldrich) (as Lew Moran)

1966

The Sand Pebbles (Wise) (as Frenchy)

1967

Doctor Dolittle (Fleischer) (as Albert Blossom)

1968

The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (McGrath) (as Robert Blossom); Only When I Larf (Dearden) (as Silas)

1970

The Last Grenade (Flemying) (as General Charles Whiteley); The Magic Christian (McGrath) (as Oxford Coach); David Copperfield (Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Mr. Tungay); A Severed Head (Dick Clement) (as Palmer Anderson); Loot (Narizzano) (as Truscott)

1971

10 Rillington Place (Fleischer) (as John Reginald Halliday Christie)

1975

And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians) (Collinson) (as Judge); Brannigan (Joe Battle) (Hickox) (as Commander Swann); Rosebud (Preminger) (as Sloat); Conduct Unbecoming (Anderson) (as Major Lionel Roach)

1978

Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) (Satyajit Ray) (as Gen. Outram)

1986

Mother Teresa (Ann Petrie and Jeanette Petrie—doc) (as narrator)

1979

The Human Factor (Preminger) (as Colonel John Daintrey)

1993

Jurassic Park (Spielberg) (as Dr. John Hammond)

1994

Miracle on 34th Street (Columbus) (as Kris Kringle)

1996

E=MC2 (Fry) (as the Visitor); Hamlet (Branagh) (as English Ambassador)

1998

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Spielberg) (as Dr. John Hammond); Elizabeth (Kapur) (as Sir William Cecil)

2000

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Mallet/Pimlott) (Jacob); Ljuset håller mig sällskap (Light Keeps Me Company) (Nykvist) (as himself); The Railway Children (Morshead—for TV) (as the Old Gentleman)



Films as Director:

1961

Whistle Down the Wind (Forbes) (pr only)

1962

The L-Shaped Room (Forbes) (co-pr only)

1969

Oh! What a Lovely War (co-pr)

1972

Young Winston (co-pr)

1977

A Bridge Too Far

1978

Magic

1982

Gandhi (pr)

1985

A Chorus Line

1987

Cry Freedom (co-pr)

1992

Chaplin (co-pr)

1993

Shadowlands (co-pr)

1996

In Love and War

1999

Grey Owl (pr)

Publications


By ATTENBOROUGH: books—

In Search of Gandhi, London, 1982.

Richard Attenborough's Chorus Line, with Diana Carter, 1986.

Cry Freedom: A Pictorial Record, 1987.


By ATTENBOROUGH: articles—

"An Actor's Actor," interview with C. Hanson, in Cinema (Beverly Hills), March 1966.

"Why I Became a Director," in Action (Los Angeles), January/February 1969.

"Elements of Truth," in Films and Filming (London), June 1969.

Interview with K. Freund, in American Film (New York), vol. 14, no. 7, 1972.

"Dialogue on Film: Richard Attenborough," in American Film (New York), March 1983.

Interview with M. Buckley, in Films in Review (New York), December 1987.

Interview in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), March and April 1988.

"Sir Richard Replies . . . ," in Eyepiece (Greenford, Middlesex), vol. 11, no. 6, 1990.

Interview with David Robinson, in Times (London), 22 March 1990.

"Attenborough on Ray," in Sight and Sound (London), August 1992.

"Les faits plus que la fiction," interview with J. Lefebvre, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), April/May 1993.

"Richard Attenborough: Droga do wolnoœci," interview in Kino (Warsaw), May 1994.

"Hemingway in Love and War," interview with Mary Hardesty, in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), February, 1997.

"Richard Attenborough's Romantic Return to WWI," interview with Mary Hardesty, in DGA (Los Angeles), March/April, 1997.


On ATTENBOROUGH: books—

Castell, David, Richard Attenborough: A Pictorial Film Biography, London, 1984.

Woods, Donald, Filming with Attenborough: The Making of Cry Freedom, New York, 1987.

Eberts, Jake, and Terry Ilott, My Indecision Is Final: The Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Films, London, 1990.

Dougan, Andy, The Actors' Director: Richard Attenborough behind the Camera, Edinburgh, 1994.


On ATTENBOROUGH: articles—

Ratcliffe, Michael, "The Public Image and the Private Eye of Richard Attenborough," in Films and Filming (London), August 1963.

Castell, D., "His 10-Year Obsession," in Films Illustrated (London), September 1974.

A Bridge Too Far Section of American Cinematographer (Hollywood), April 1977.

Screen International (London), 17 October and 4 December 1981, 22 January and 14 May 1983.

National Film Theatre Booklet (London), October/November 1983.

Current Biography 1984, New York, 1984.

Tanner, L., "Sir Richard Attenborough," in Films in Review (New York), January 1986.

Houston, Penelope, "Parker, Attenborough, Anderson," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1986.

Hacker, Jonathan, and David Price, "Richard Attenborough," in Take 10: Contemporary British Film Directors, London, 1991.

Stivers, C., "Trampled," in Premiere (New York), January 1993.

Stars (Mariembourg), Winter 1995.


* * *

Today, Richard Attenborough is primarily recognized as the director of prestigious, large-scale message pictures and historical epics (Gandhi, Cry Freedom, A Bridge Too Far), and biographies (Young Winston, Chaplin). Prior to his directorial debut in 1969 with Oh! What a Lovely War, however, he enjoyed a quarter-century-long career in front of the camera. His on-screen debut came in the kind of film he might have directed himself: Noël Coward's In Which We Serve, a World War II drama set aboard a British destroyer. He portrayed a coward and, unfortunately, found himself typecast as characters who at least start out as fainthearted and indecisive before (occasionally) redeeming themselves: the RAF pilot trainee in Journey Together; the young seaman in The Man Within; the gutless submarine crew member in Morning Departure.

Physically, Attenborough was stocky and boyish; he lacked the required good looks to become a leading man. And so, early in his career, he also was cast as characters far younger than his real years: most incredibly, as a schoolboy in The Guinea Pig (released when he was 25 years old); the thief who is sent to a borstal in The Boys in Brown; the South London boardinghouse resident convicted of murder in London Belongs to Me; and, most memorably, as Pinky Brown, the ill-fated adolescent killer, in Brighton Rock (in which he gives his foremost early career performance).

Eventually, Attenborough was able to transcend this typecasting, becoming a solid and reliable character actor who won supporting and occasional lead roles in a variety of films. He had the ability to convey considerable shadiness behind genial bluster, particularly in the Boulting comedies I'm All Right, Jack and Brothers in Law and the Basil Dearden-directed dramas The Ship that Died of Shame and The League of Gentlemen. Still, some of his best characters remained submissive ones, such as the compliant mate of deranged medium Kim Stanley in Seance on a Wet Afternoon. Additionally, he was perfectly cast as unbending intellectuals (the soldier who concocts a breakout from a German POW camp in The Great Escape) and characters of unyielding integrity (the victimized factory worker in The Angry Silence). In the latter two films, he offers appropriately intense performances which are among the best of his career.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, Attenborough was envisioning a career behind the cameras. In 1959, he formed Beaver Films, his own production company, with Bryan Forbes and Guy Green, and began producing or co-producing films in which he appeared (The Angry Silence, Seance on a Wet Afternoon) and others in which he did not (Whistle Down the Wind, The L-Shaped Room). A segue into directing was part of his natural progression.

By the time he directed Gandhi in 1982, Attenborough already had established himself as a filmmaker. He had desired to tell the story of Mohandas K. Gandhi since the 1960s; "This is what I've wanted to do more than anything else I've been involved with," he explained. "Everything I've directed was a sort of training. I didn't want to direct per se, I wanted to make Gandhi." The film was a multi-Academy Award winner; included in its honors was a Best Director statue for Attenborough. Nevertheless, in recent years Gandhi (as well as Attenborough's other big-budget projects) has come to be regarded as ponderous: a stuffy, overblown epic which did not extend on the stylistic innovation he displayed in Oh! What a Lovely War. Perhaps his best film, which harks back to his more intimate stints as an actor, remains the thriller Magic, which showed that Attenborough the director, without the benefit of a cast of thousands and a huge backdrop, could spin a compelling yarn.

—Quen Falk, updated by Rob Edelman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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"Attenborough, (Lord) Richard." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Attenborough, (Lord) Richard." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/attenborough-lord-richard

"Attenborough, (Lord) Richard." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/attenborough-lord-richard