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Subject: Archive: Dennis Price, Oct. 6, 1973


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Actor ("Kind Hearts & Coronets")
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Date Posted: Saturday, October 06, 05:11:40pm

Radley- and Oxford-educated, from a military background, Dennis Price (born Dennistoun Rose-Price in Twyford) made his stage debut in 1937, was in the Royal Artillery in World War II (1940-42), and starred in many films without ever, paradoxically, being a star.

He was introduced to films in A Canterbury Tale (d. Powell & Pressburger, 1944), as the sensitive young soldier, former cinema organist who realises an ambition to play in the Cathedral. Mercilessly used by Gainsborough in one unsuitable role after another (hopeless at costume heroes, better as villains such as Sir Francis in Caravan, d. Arthur Crabtree, 1946), he had his one great role at Ealing.

This was as the lynch-pin of the plot of Kind Hearts and Coronets (d. Robert Hamer, 1949), where the brilliance of his contribution to the passionate but coolly satirical comdie noire has often been overshadowed by praise for Alec Guinness's octet of roles. Price's elegance, wit and sense of just-contained rage inform one of the most fully achieved roles in British film.

He was a hopeless Bad Lord Byron (d. David MacDonald, 1949), though it is hard to know who might have played that script; looked and - thanks to Ivor Novello - sounded ridiculous in The Dancing Years (d. Harold French, 1950) and settled into smoking-jacket roles from the early 1950s, though Dear Murderer (d. Arthur Crabtree, 1947) had surely indicated that this was how it would be.

He parodies himself as a vain film star in Lady Godiva Rides Again (d. Frank Launder, 1951), has a good snooty bit in The Intruder (d. Guy Hamilton, 1953), as a snobbish and cowardly officer, is enjoyably snooty and corrupt as Bertram Tracepurcel in Private's Progress (d. John Boulting, 1956) and I'm All Right Jack (d. John Boulting, 1959), has some telling moments as an upper-class gay in Victim (d. Basil Dearden, 1961), and was the quickly disposed of drama critic in Theatre of Blood (d. Douglas Hickox, 1973).

He soldiered on to the end, totting up over 100 credits, sometimes seeming to lift a weary eyebrow at the rubbish he found himself mired in, returned occasionally to the stage, and found a niche on TV as Jeeves in The World of Wooster (1965-68).

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Trailer for "Kind Hearts & Coronets"LinkSaturday, October 06, 05:13:49pm


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