Nationality: British. Born: John Edward Hawkins in Wood Green, London, 14 September 1910. Education: Trinity County School, and Italia Conti School of Acting. Military Service: Served in Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 1940–45; later in charge of entertainment units in India and South East Asia Command: Colonel. Family: Married 1) the actress Jessica Tandy 1932 (divorced 1942), daughter: Susan; 2) the actress Doreen Lawrence, 1947; three children. Career: 1923—London stage debut as child actor in Where the Rainbow Ends; 1929—adult debut in Young Woodley; New York debut in Journey's End; 1930—film debut in Birds of Prey; 1951—last stage appearance; 1956—TV debut in Caesar and Cleopatra; 1958—formed Allied Film Makers distribution company with Bryan Forbes and others; 1963—co-founder, Tricastle Productions; 1966—after throat operation, unable to use his own voice in films (voice dubbed in subsequent performances); 1968—co-founder, Keep Films; 1974—in TV mini-series QB VII.Awards: Commander, Order of the British Empire, 1958. Died: Of throat cancer, 18 July 1973.
Films as Actor:
Birds of Prey (The Perfect Alibi) (Dean) (as Alfred)
The Lodger (The Phantom Fiend) (Elvey) (as Joe Martin)
The Good Companions (Saville) (as Albert); The Lost Chord (Elvey) (as Dr. Jim Selby); I Lived without You (Elvey) (as Mort); The Jewel (Denham) (as Peter Roberts); A Shot in the Dark (Pearson) (as Normal Paul)
Autumn Crocus (Dean) (as Alaric Craven); Death at Broadcasting House (Denham) (as Herbert Evans)
Peg of Old Drury (Wilcox) (as Michael O'Taffe)
Beauty and the Barge (Edwards) (as Lt. Seton Boyne); The Frog (Raymond) (as Capt. Gordon)
Who Goes Next? (Elvey) (as Capt. Beck); A Royal Divorce (Raymond) (as Capt. Charles)
Murder Will Out (Neill) (as Stamp); Hamlet (Boisen) (documentary on Kronborg production of play)
The Flying Squad (Brenon) (as Mark McGill)
The Next of Kin (Dickinson) (as Major)
The Fallen Idol (Reed) (as Detective Ames); Bonnie Prince Charlie (Kimmins) (as Lord George Murray); The Small Back Room (Powell and Pressburger) (as Waring)
State Secret (The Great Manhunt) (Gilliat) (as Col. Galcon); The Black Rose (Hathaway) (as Tristram Griffen); The Elusive Pimpernel (The Fighting Pimpernel) (Powell and Pressburger) (as Prince of Wales); The Adventurers (The Great Adventure) (MacDonald) (as Pieter Brandt)
No Highway (No Highway in the Sky) (Koster) (as Denis Scott); Angels One Five (O'Ferrall) (as Tiger Small)
Home at Seven (Murder on Monday) (Richardson) (as Dr. Sparling); Mandy (Crash of Silence) (Mackendrick) (as Richard Searle); The Planter's Wife (Outpost in Malaya) (Annakin) (as Jim Frazer); The Cruel Sea (Frend) (as Lt. Commander Ericson)
Twice upon a Time (Pressburger) (as Dr. Matthews); Malta Story (Hurst) (as Air Officer Commanding); The Intruder (Hamilton) (as Wolf Merton); Front Page Story (Parry) (as John Grant); Prince Philip (Thomas—short) (as narrator)
The Seekers (Land of Fury) (Annakin) (as Philip Wayne)
The Prisoner (Glenville) (as Interrogator); Land of the Pharaohs (Hawks) (as Pharaoh); Touch and Go (The Light Touch) (Truman) (as Jim Fletcher)
The Long Arm (The Third Key) (Frend) (as Supt. Tom Halliday); The Man in the Sky (Decision against Time) (Crichton) (as John Mitchell)
Fortune Is a Woman (She Played with Fire) (Gilliat) (as Oliver Branwell); The Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean) (as Major Warden); Battle for Britain (Ashwood and Lloyd—short) (as narrator)
Gideon's Day (Gideon of Scotland Yard) (Ford) (as Inspector George Gideon); The Two-Headed Spy (de Toth) (as General Alex Scottland)
Ben-Hur (Wyler) (as Quintus Arrius); The League of Gentlemen (Dearden) (as Norman Hyde)
Two Loves (Spinster) (Walters) (as W. W. J. Abercrombie); La Fayette (Dréville) (as General Cornwallis)
Five Finger Exercise (Mann) (as Stanley Harrington); Lawrence of Arabia (Lean) (as General Allenby); Rampage (Karlson) (as Otto Abbot)
Zulu (Enfield) (as the Rev. Otto Witt)
The Third Secret (Crichton) (as Sir Frederick Belline); Guns at Batasi (Guillermin) (as Lt. Col. John Deal); Masquerade (Dearden) (as Col. Drexel); Lord Jim (Brooks) (as Marlow)
Victory at Yorktown (Dréville—short; reedited version of La Fayette battle sequence, 1961) (as General Cornwallis); Judith (Mann) (as Major Lawton)
Danger Grows Wild (The Poppy Is Also a Flower) (Young) (as General Behar); The Party's Over (Hamilton) (+ exec co-pr)
Great Catherine (Flemyng) (as Sir George Gorse)
Shalako (Dmytryk) (as Sir Charles Daggett)
Oh! What a Lovely War (Attenborough) (as Emperor Franz Josef); Monte Carlo or Bust! (Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies) (Annakin) (as Count Levinovitch); Twinky (Lola) (Donner) (as Judge Millington Draper)
The Adventures of Gerard (Skolimowski) (as Millefleurs); Waterloo (Bondarchuk)
Jane Eyre (Mann—for TV) (as Brocklehurst); When Eight Bells Toll (Périer); Nicholas and Alexandra (Schaffner); Kidnapped (Mann) (as Captain Hoseason); The Beloved (The Sin; Restless) (Cosmatos)
Young Winston (Attenborough); Habrichka el hashemersh (Niet!; Escape to the Sun) (Golan)
The Last Lion (de Witt); Theatre of Blood (Hickox); Tales That Witness Madness (Francis)
By HAWKINS: book—
Anything for a Quiet Life: The Autobiography of Jack Hawkins, London, 1973.
On HAWKINS: articles—
"Jack Hawkins," in Films and Filming (London), March 1955.
Hall, D. J., "Gentleman Jack," in Films and Filming (London), September 1970.
Lacourbe, R., "La Fin d'un gentleman," in Ecran (Paris), September-October 1973.
Marill, A.H., "Jack Hawkins, 1910–1973," in Films in Review (New York), January 1976.
"Jack Hawkins," in Ecran (Paris), 20 October 1979.
Stars (Mariembourg), Spring 1994.
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Jack Hawkin's rise to stardom in the late 1940s and early 1950s, after more than a decade in unimportant supporting roles, is explained largely by his ability to embody a cultural myth that, in postwar Britain, was fast becoming outmoded and could be presented only as the object of nostalgic longing. With his self-effacing restraint and yet obvious confidence, Hawkins easily suggested that public school pluck which British war documentaries and films had presented as the Empire's salvation during World War II.
By the 1950s, of course, that stiff upper-lipped and upper-class figure clearly belonged to the past. Hence Hawkins evoked him in films that celebrated national moments of triumph. As the long-suffering corvette captain in The Cruel Sea, Hawkins endures the dullness and horrors of war, and rises to its challenges with a determination to do the job right. In David Lean's The Bridge on the RiverKwai, Hawkins's gentleman officer interrupts his scholarly career to do his bit in Burma, only momentarily losing his control when faced with the destructive paradoxes of war.
Since the character he created did belong to the past, it was perhaps inevitable that Hawkins remained uninvolved with the movement of British film toward "kitchen sink" realism in the late 1950s. Hawkins's policeman in Gideon of Scotland Yard is a romanticized image of the kindly bobby, a lower-middle-class figure who does his appointed job without complaint. Instead, Hawkins found work in those costume or historical epics produced in such great numbers during the 1960s on both sides of the Atlantic. He played character roles in films such as Ben-Hur (as a ramrod-stiff Roman admiral) and Nicholas and Alexandra as well as different incarnations of the upper-crust Englishman in Waterloo, Jane Eyre, and Young Winston, films whose mythic quality was certainly enhanced by his presence.
The most memorable of these always competent and sometimes distinguished performances is his role (once again for David Lean) as General Allenby in Lawrence of Arabia, a film that attacks the notion of English reserve. Here Hawkins provides ironic contrast for the spectacularly successful self-actualization of Lawrence's megalomania; Hawkins's Allenby is an empire builder who must resign himself, somewhat bitterly, to the anonymity of his role, to obeying rules both written and unwritten.
—R. Barton Palmer