Richard Attenborough – A Tribute

Richard Attenborough 2The sad news broke yesterday that Richard Attenborough, aged 90, died on August 24th 2014 at his home in London.

He began his film career with an uncredited role in the 1942 film In Which We Serve. His breakthrough role came five years later in 1947, as Pinkie Brown in the film adaptation of Graham Green’s novel Brighton Rock. Over the next thirty years he was a stalwart of British cinema with early roles in comedies such as Private’s Progress in 1956 and I’m All Right Jack in 1959. His first major Hollywood blockbuster role, and most successful film to date, came in 1963 as RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett in The Great Escape. In 1964 he portrayed the character of the Regimental Sergeant Major in the film Guns at Batasi, a role for which he was awarded the BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 1967 and 1968 he was awarded back-to-back Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actor for his roles in The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Dolittle. By this time though Attenborough was diversifying his roles and the 1971 film 10 Rillington Place earned him rave reviews for his portrayal of serial killer John Christie. Again in 1977 he received great acclaim for his role as General Outram in The Chess Players. In 1979 he appeared in Otto Preminger’s adaptation of another Graham Greene novel, The Human Factor. This would be his last role until 1993 when he appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park as the eccentric John Hammond. His last starring role was as Kris Kringle in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Attenborough’s career as producer and director began in the 1950s when he created the production company Beaver Films and began to produce films such as The League of Gentlemen, The Angry Silence and Whistle Down the Wind. His directorial debut came in 1969 with Oh! What a Lovely War but his breakthrough as director and producer came in 1982 with the film that he had been trying to make for the past eighteen years, Gandhi, for which he received Academy Awards for Best Director and also Best Picture. Gandhi also earned him two Golden Globe awards for Best Director and Best Foreign Film. He received two further Golden Globe nominations for Best Film for his 1985 film A Chorus Line and again in 1987 for his anti-apartheid drama based on the life of Steve Biko, Cry Freedom. In recent years his other projects as director and producer include the 1992 film Chaplin and Shadowlands in 1993.

In 1967 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 1976 received the honour of Knight Bachelor. In 1993, in honour of his services to cinema, he was made a life peer as Baron Attenborough of Richmond upon Thames.

In a career that has spanned sixty years Richard Attenborough has had a huge impact on the British film industry and will be remembered fondly by friends, fellow actors and film fans alike.

Posted in General by / August 25th, 2014 / No Comments »

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