Tag Archives: The 39 Steps

The Hitchcock Players: Robert Donat, The 39 Steps

1 Aug

by , Wednesday, 01 August 2012

Hitchcockian fall guy: Robert Donat as Richard Hannay, with Lucie Mannheim as “Miss Smith.”BFI

It’s always a thrill watching The 39 Steps’ Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) doing daredevil feats on the Flying Scotsman as it speeds across the Forth Bridge, kissing a Scottish crofter’s jealously guarded wife, and bringing down the house with an inane extemporized speech at a constituency meeting.

A passive ex-Canadian rancher in London, Hannay must extricate himself from a murder rap and expose a spy ring by revealing unexpected daring, physical agility, and mental resourcefulness. Wrongly suspected of murdering a Mata Hari type (Lucie Mannheim) he thought was a prostitute but had no interest in bedding, he undergoes a momentous change, partially while manhandling the blonde (Madeleine Carroll) to whom he has been handcuffed in mutual dislike. There’s a sexual charge to his roughness that the lady only half-heartedly complains about, while his wit and thoughtfulness – he helps her hang up her damp stockings on a hotel room mantelpiece – melts her icy disdain.

Robert Donat, who was 29 when filming began in January 1935, seized his moment, finding the right tone of virility and nonchalance without becoming a Bulldog Drummond or a proto-Bond. Saving his skin is his main concern, saving the nation (likely to be threatened by his adversary’s leaking of a military secret to a foreign power) of secondary importance. He is thus refreshingly unlike John Buchan’s Scots-born, pro-English South African colonial, a wealthy, anti-Semitic establishment figure who, over the course of the Hannay stories, winds up General Sir Richard Hannay, KCB, DSO, in which guise he was as much the deskbound Buchan’s alter ego as Philip Marlowe was Raymond Chandler’s.

Wrongly accused like Hannay are Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man and Cary Grant in North by Northwest, but as the Hitchcockian fall guy who falls upwards, Donat is peerless. Even the milkman admires him.

  • The 39 Steps screens at the BFI Southbank on Friday 3 August

Watch an excerpt

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© Graham Fuller, all rights reserved.

This article originally published at The Arts Desk and reproduced by kind permission of the author.

Lions in the Scottish Highlands

29 Nov

Thank you to David Cairns for letting us reproduce this post about ‘The 39 Steps’ from his wonderful film blog, Shadowplay. (It helps if you know that David is based in Scotland!)

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THE 39 STEPS, we all agree, is where Hitchcock’s thrillers really catch fire. He’d been making films since 1922, scoring considerable success, and many people, including Hitch himself, may have thought he had already shown what he could do — but this film raises the bar still further. It pleases me inanely that this is Hitchcock’s Scottish film, with Scottish settings, characters, and a source novel by Scotsman John Buchan (pronounced “buckin”). In Hitchcock’s movie, as in Buchan’s book, man of action Richard Hannay must follow the trail of a spy ring from London to the Highlands.

Hitch and collaborator Charles Bennett (who shares Hitch’s cameo in this one, a unique honour) famously abandoned or greatly altered large parts of the source novel, so that even the title became something of an irrelevance, to be explained away as brusquely as possible, but if you read the book (I did, years ago) it’s fun to see how elements are reconfigured: a throwaway line about a trip to the music hall is expanded by Hitchcock into a hilarious opening sequence, introducing hero Hannay, Mr. Memory the mnemonic genius, and a female spy calling herself Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim), whose murder sets things in motion.

Inspired by a surge of national spirit, I hopped on the train to retrace Hannay’s steps, but since I’m perennially cash-strapped, I only went from Edinburgh’s to the Forth Bridge. Hannay, fleeing the scene of a murder for which he’s automatically blamed, boards the Flying Scotsman locomotive, sharing a compartment with a traveller in ladies’ undergarments and another loudmouth, who seem to keep up a non-stop barrage of double entendres and man-of-the-world smut for the entire journey.

The train pulls into Waverley Station, Edinburgh, and one of the men flags down a news vendor. “Speak-a da English?” he asks. I wouldn’t try this in Scotland if I were you. The newspaper purchased carries news of Hannay’s pursuit, and the suspense is ramped up.

I don’t see any newsboys in the station when I’m there, but they have an entire newsagents shop, and a Burger King, which I feel gives me the edge on old Hannay. I hop in the train, with a ticket for North Queensferry, which means I’m crossing the bridge but no more. As Hannay is evading capture in his train, I’m snapping pictures out the window of mine. No knicker salesman, no compartment, no steam engine, no Madeleine Carroll…

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There are actually two bridges now, the Road Bridge and the Rail Bridge, but the Road, a common suspension job, is regarded with contempt by locals, so when we say “the Forth Bridge” it’s always certain which we mean. A massive Victorian construction, it’s constantly being painted with a special paint, known as Forth Bridge Red. The Victorian engineers who constructed it said that as long as you kept painting it, the bridge would last forever. They start at one end, work there way to the other, then start again. It’s become the perfect metaphor for any unending, Sisyphean task.

Of course, when the bridge was privatized, the management idiots announced that they would no longer paint the bridge, since it was “too costly and dangerous,” which is an amazing bit of half-wittedness. MORE costly and dangerous than allowing it to rust? Sure enough, soon bits of corroded bridge were dropping onto North and South Queensferry, and a lot of money had to be spent repairing the structure. Painting has resumed.

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The Forth Bridge, by Cairns.

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The Forth Bridge, by Hitchcock.

One of the things that’s so outrageous about THE 39 STEPS is the use of narrative ellipsis to get around tricky plot problems. The first major cheat is near the start, when a woman is killed in Hannay’s flat, knifed to death, without any explanation of how the killers got in, or why they didn’t then kill Hannay. Hitchcock at this point apparently had little fear of those annoying folks he called “the plausiblists” — although the list of Hannay’s neighbours includes a “Porlock”, suggesting that he was aware of the various ways in which ordinary persons can hinder the artist at work.

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The second massive cheat comes after Hannay eludes his pursuers on the bridge — we not only don’t see how he gets down from the bridge, the next time we see him he’s strolling through Glen Coe, about a hundred miles away. Hitch gets away with this kind of barefaced cheek in part because he’s so good at transitions. A cut from a screaming woman, discovering a corpse, to a train blowing its whistle, is a particular classic. But the movie abounds with inventiveness in sound design — when the female spy is murdered in his flat, Hannay remembers her words, and we hear them, as if filtered through a long-distance telephone connection.

Then there’s the famous crofter scene, a touching and atmospheric vignette, featuring John Laurie (previously seen playing Irish in JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK) and Peggy Ashcroft, which deliberately slows the pace and alters the tone: Hitch was fond of tonal shifts and his movie really unfolds like a piece of music. A terrible shame that the mesmerising Peggy didn’t make more films — we otherwise see her mainly in old lady stuff like A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Laurie was a real-life crofter’s son, although in the lowlands rather than the highlands. The accents all through the Scottish section are wildly variable — the bad guy’s maid is hilarious, although she gives it her best shot.

Such is Hitch’s verve and cheek that he can get away with things that really make no sense — Hannay travels to Scotland in search of the fiendish master-spy with the missing finger. Once in the right neighbourhood, he asks around about newcomers, and determines that there’s only one. Visiting the fellow, he finds him hosting a party, and is lulled into a state of relaxation. And soon he is shocked — shocked! — to discover that this is none other than the man he has been looking for. Well, duh — and yet it’s an effective shock moment, don’t ask me how.

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(Note the bad guy’s bespectacled daughter, named as Patricia, just like Hitch and Alma’s only child. It’s not our Pat, though, since she was only a little nipper at the time.)

Another great trick, when Hannay survives being shot at close range due to a hymn book in his pocket, its presence established afterwards in an impudent cutaway back to the crofter, whose coat Hannay has taken.

This being a typical Hitchcock nightmare, the police are useless and don’t believe our hero, so now he’s on the run again, and worse still, he has no clues left to follow. Never passing up the chance to take the mickey out of public speakers and large gatherings, Hitch bundles Hannay onto the stand at a political rally, where he bungles the candidates name, so that McCorquindale becomes McCrocodile, but otherwise scores a rousing success with an extemporised speech which not only serves as a potted story-so-far autobiography, but sets out the film’s woolly but sincere vision for the world’s future, after the current threats to peace and freedom have been eliminated. But this grants Hannay only a temporary respite, and he’s soon in the hands of the police — or are they? — again.

Fate throws him a blonde, Madeleine Carroll, and soon the two are famously handcuffed together. Up to now I’ve been calling him Hannay, because up until now he’s been more of a plot function than a character, but Robert Donat gets to do some proper acting once the girl is in the picture, and she’s very good too — Hitchcock called her the first proper Hitchcock blonde.

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Hitchcock and Hannay treat her rather harshly, seemingly as punishment for her giving him up to the police on the Flying Scotsman (quite reasonably, under the circumstances). Ivor Montagu recalled that the writing team quite deliberately invented as many miseries as possible for the character — this seems to have been the beginning of Hitch’s odd reputation as a misogynist (I can understand it, totally, in FRENZY, but not earlier), and Hitch added to the theme by inflicting constant practical jokes on poor Madeleine Carroll — more on this in another post.

It struck me in the past that Carroll enters the story rather late, after her earlier appearance on the train. This time, it seemed perfect. Hannay begins as a nobody, his flat undecorated, his face unglimpsed until long into his first scene, and we are able to accept him as our substitute because, although he’s vague and unformed as a piece of writing, he’s embodied by the appealing Donat. Only halfway through the story does Hannay really start to dominate his own story, and he does it by dominating Carroll, though he, like his audience, can’t help but admire her pluck. In obstreperously resisting everything Hannay does and says, Carroll becomes a useful foil, and also a winning character — she confounds cliche more thoroughly than previous Hitchcock heroines.

(In NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Hitch completely reverses the blonde’s introduction, to further avoid cliche: when Eva Marie Saint recognises Cary Grant, on another train, as another wanted murderer, she not only doesn’t give him up to the cops, she blatantly comes on to him.)

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An overheard phone call, implausible but not wildly so, enables our protags to make it to the climax, back at the music hall where the film began — in another of Hitchcock’s musical MacGuffins, Hannay recognises a tune that’s been running through his head as the one from Mr. Memory’s act, and the entertainer becomes the key figure in the whole plot. I’m not sure if Memory’s punchline — answering a question asked during his act, even though it gets him shot — is totally clear. Bennett and Hitch were proud of the idea that Mr. Memory cannot bear to let a question go unanswered: it’s a matter of professional pride. But the idea isn’t, perhaps, as fully expressed as it could be. But his death scene is properly moving and absurd (the secret formula he’s memorized is sheerest crap – a MacGuffin of a MacGuffin) and we’re also graced by a cameo by a positively nubile Miles Malleson. And what do we say when we see Miles Malleson, remembering his scene as the dirty-books buyer in PEEPING TOM?

Altogether now — “He won’t be doing the crossword tonight!”

© David Cairns, all rights reserved.

Love The 39 Steps?

24 Nov

Robert Donat with Madeleine Carroll, The 39 Steps

If you love Alfred Hitchcock’s masterly and enduring 1935 film, which starred Robert Donat, not only are you in possession of excellent taste, but you are also in good company. In today’s Guardian, Saptarshi Ray writes about his favourite film:

The 39 Steps was my first Hitchcock film. I saw it when I was about 13, with a movie-buff uncle on a battered old black-and-white TV set, on a trip to India. Sitting in the clammy heat and darkness that night, praying there wouldn’t be a power cut as we were transported from West Bengal to the Scottish moors, it was the first time I grasped the full extent of cinema’s escapist power …

… Then, of course, there’s the chemistry between the leads. According to Donat’s biography, Hitchcock “accidentally” lost the key after handcuffing him to Carroll at their first rehearsal. After a few hours, during which the director was said to have become mawkishly obsessed with how the pair would deal with bathroom visits, Hitchcock “found” the key. As a result, the leads became more relaxed in each other’s presence. Their heat may not quite match Bogie and Bacall, but they’re a fine pair on-screen, and so engaging that they are doomed to fall in love.

Watching The 39 Steps is a bit like entering a vintage jewel-encrusted lift once built for a maharajah: what will you admire first? The ornate ivory buttons, the solid gold doors edged with marble, the engineering that makes it capable of such speed – or will you simply enjoy the ride? For every breathless plot twist there’s a camera shot or angle to appreciate. Just like the Forth Bridge and its dramatic Scottish surroundings, this film proves ingenuity and beauty can make easy bedfellows – whether handcuffed together or not.

To read the full article, click here.

And if you happen to be spending Hogmanay (aka New Year) in Edinburgh this year, The 39 Steps is included in the Filmhouse Cinema’s An Edinburgh New Year season, and is showing on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 December. Tickets can be booked online or by calling 0131 228 2688, and discounts are available (if you see any three (or more) films in this season, get 15% off . See all six films in this season and get 25% off ).

The Dashing Mr. Donat

17 Oct

The great actor, Robert Donat, who died too young in 1958, made only 20 films in his lifetime because of his chronic asthma. But what films! Speaking of his need for variety in his work, he said ‘I like my pickles mixed’ and they certainly were.  They include: The Ghost Goes West, as a Scottish laird and a ghost (1936), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness as a Mandarin (1958 – his last film, in which he spoke the prophetic lines, ‘It is time to go, old friends. We shall not see each other again, I think.’), The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) as Thomas Culpepper, sophisticated Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps (1935), Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), Sir Robert Morton in The Winslow Boy (1948), a Scottish doctor in The Citadel (1938), for which he was Oscar nominated, and the eponymous teacher in  Goodbye, Mr Chips, playing him both as a young man and as an 83 year old, and stealing the 1939 Oscar from Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (which had taken all the other awards that year!).

Robert Donat in 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' (1939)

John Donat, Robert’s son, told me his father’s favourite story from the making of this film:

‘Robert appeared on the set as the Old Chips for the first time and was practising his shuffling walk. Korda (the producer) came on set and asked the camera-man (the great Freddie Young): “Who’s that old fart ?”

Robert regarded that as the finest assessment of his acting career.’

I approached John Donat (who sadly died in 2004) because I was researching for my first book, Acting for Film: Truth 24 Times a Second. In spite of Robert Donat’s enthusiastic defence of cinema in his excellent article, Film Acting, for Footnotes to the Film – his son (who had not read this article before) summed up his father’s attitude thus:

‘My version of his career is that he greatly preferred the stage to the screen – but made money in the Cinema to lose it in the Theatre.   A process repeated many times through his career…”

Robert Donat certainly suffered, not only ill health that prevented him going to Hollywood, but also such a conscientious attitude to work that he often feared he would not be the right casting for the character. He turned down the title role in Captain Blood (1935) as he felt the swashbuckling part was wrong for him, and the role was eventually taken by Errol Flynn. Donat reported that,

‘The chief thing in my mind was that I must appear dashing. I distinctly remember in The Count of Monte Cristo pulling my shoulders back and trying to look handsome.’

And handsome and dashing was what he was. He was the favourite actor amongst many of his peers, including Peter Sellers, Judy Garland and Charles Laughton. His stage performances were legendary and included the first performance, playing Thomas Becket, of T.S Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. (This is still available as an audio version via Amazon.) Having originally started acting in order to cure a stammer, he found it to be his vocation. He took great pride, not only in his own success but also in the success of others, and his son shared with me his father’s favourite quartet from a show:

Cambridge Festival Theatre, 1928.

An unknown young actor: called Robert Donat.

An unknown young actress: called Flora Robson.

An unknown young director: called Tyrone Guthrie.

being reviewed (either in the Manchester Guardian or Granta) by

An unknown undergraduate: called Alistair Cooke!!!

In spite of Robert Donat’s initial ambivalence to working on film – a view shared by many actors of his generation who saw cinema as a way of making big bucks, but theatre as art – he soon came to understand the perceptive power of the lens. He said of these actors that,

‘Too late, they discover that they have not gone quite the right way about it. Instead of acting “a little bit less”, they find out that they need to act a little bit better.’

Strangely enough, the stage actor’s slight contempt for screen acting has persisted in this country to the present time. Jeremy Irons, who kindly did the foreword for my book/DVD, A Screen Acting Workshop, expressed much the same assessment of this view as Robert Donat, and agreed with him that:

‘Film acting can give you real insight into acting in the theatre, because you can’t lie on film whereas you can get away with lying in theatre. In other words the camera will see you if you are pretending. You have to be.’

Donat came to have great respect for screen acting and echoes the same thought:

‘Of this I am quite certain. I am a better actor for my film experience. Two qualities – concentration and sincerity – are even more necessary on the screen than on the stage, and one’s work cannot fail to be the richer for their exercise.’

The camera really sees you think, sees that sincerity, but the minute you step in and try to show us what you’re thinking, decide how to appear or how to say the line, or feel yourself ‘being sincere’, you are lost. The lens will reveal your lack of truth and depth. To quote Robert Donat again:

‘There is no such thing as Facial Expression, but there is such a thing as an expressive face…the face and eyes will light up, not with a ‘suitable expression’ but with the only suitable expression – the real thing.’

Hitchcock, who directed him in The 39 Steps, says something similar in his own inimitable way:

‘I would almost say that the best screen actor is the man who can do nothing extremely well.’ (Alfred Hitchcock – Footnotes to the Film).

Well, Robert Donat certainly does it extremely well, but it’s a sleight of hand worthy of Hitchcock. It is not ‘nothing’ – it is the surface calm of a man who is seething underneath with thoughts and needs. Directors often do not have a great understanding of the acting process and, in a desire to stop an actor ‘showing’ and thereby ‘overacting’, they ask them to ‘do less’, misunderstanding that it is not about doing less but about being real. The ‘doing nothing’ is what happens – like life – in the moment. (When we don’t want others to read our thoughts or can convey what we want by merely a glance or, because our thoughts are driving underneath, we allow words to simply ‘fall out’ of our mouths, our faces give little away.)  But this seemingly effortless work – like the propulsion of a swan’s webbed feet beneath the surface of the water while it glides elegantly above – involves a deep preparation beforehand. In his article Film Acting in Footnotes to the Film, Robert Donat takes as an example a single moment of surprise, and lists what the actor needs to imagine: a) the mental state b) the emotional state of the character at the moment of the surprise c) the nature of the surprise d) the degree of mental and emotional state and e) thinking backwards and forwards in continuity to ‘place’ the acting in proper sequence, size and shape.

These are all conscious decisions (‘though very nearly instinctive in a good actor’) but, in the moment of putting this work onto screen, Donat says it must be ‘unconscious’ – in other words, as the actor places himself into the moment – it will be ‘the real thing’.

Donat is the master of the cool exterior whilst his mind races with possibilities.  Watch the interrogation scene from The Winslow Boy (1948).

Here, we see the man’s humanity and warmth in his eyes, even whilst he is fiercely grilling the young suspect. But he never gives away what he thinks until the end of the interview, surprising the other characters – and us. The grilling starts gently, to win the boy’s confidence. (Notice the difference in energy and strength between his remarks to the boy and to the father’s interruptions.) As he becomes more sure of the boy’s innocence, he becomes harsher and harder to test him, and to simulate the cross-examination he knows his young client will have to endure, until he reduces him to tears.

During this section, his eyes never leave the child’s face, searching out the truth, and yet we see in them, wry amusement at some of the answers. Donat’s eyes (unlike the child who is good but always ‘on text’) are fully alive and he really listens, really watches.

Look at his use of props. Donat plays with his glove but becomes very still when he needs to know an answer. His cane becomes both a symbol of his position and a means to provide a physical anchor for the scene.

He is centred, upright, taking all the power from his centre. His face is relaxed even at the strongest moments. Nothing is pushed or forced.

Donat’s role, Sir Robert, is accused by the boy’s sister of never letting anyone know the truth about him and of being ashamed of his emotions. Sir Robert says that in his profession he needs ‘cold, hard logic’. So when, in the film, emotion does erupt, it is in spite of himself. Donat never indulges his feelings but plays the man who has spent a lifetime concealing them and his affections, which are never revealed until the last line of the movie. Only watch this clip, with its marvellous last moment, if you’ve already seen the film, as you should watch it all!

In Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939), we see the reverse reasons for this hiding of the emotions. The shy, sensitive Mr. Chipping wants so much to say what he feels but cannot because of his insecurity, until it is wrenched out of him by the emotion of parting with his loved one.

See how different his physicality is from the last clip, the sternum slightly collapsed, hands in pockets, the rolling walk. He makes his place in the world smaller. Whereas Sir Robert in The Winslow Boy expanded to fill the room and become the central pivot of it, Mr. Chips tries to fade into the background and avoid becoming the centre of anyone’s attention.

As he sees the love of his life off on her train, he hardly looks at her, not daring to meet her eyes or say the secret that is in his heart – dying to speak his feelings, but unable to give voice to them. At the last moment he tries, but his courage fails when the whistle blows and interrupts him, and he cannot sustain his bravery to push the moment through.

She kisses him and instantly releases him from the self-consciousness that binds him. He runs in a burst of energy and bravery and crumples again as the train leaves and panic sets in. His friend resolves it and fills him with a joy that is hard for him to comprehend.

We understand all these complex feelings that are bubbling underneath the surface of the character in a couple of minutes of screen time. We understand it through the actor’s body. It is so clear here that Robert Donat is totally connected, body and mind. He is a very physical actor whose whole self is immersed in his role’s life, thought-patterns and needs.

As Mr. Chips is released from his self-doubt by love and marriage, he is at last able to show his emotions. And the ending, as the old Mr Chips (Donat playing 83 at aged 34!), is a classic, genuine tear-jerker. In his last moments of the film, the elderly retired schoolmaster makes friends with the homesick new boy at the school and soon afterwards dies, thinking of his thousands of ‘children’. It would be so easy to fall into sentimentality here, but Donat is always firm and true. With his strength faltering as he slips into death, he speaks, with warmth and love in his eyes, practically, truthfully and in a major key, without a trace of self-pity.

The 39 Steps (1935) is well worth watching in full, as it’s a cracking yarn. And if you can’t watch it on film, there’s a youtube version:

Donat is superb as the worldly – and dashing – Richard Hannay, who gets caught up in espionage due to a case of mistaken identity and has to use skill and ingenuity to outwit his wicked opponents. With his jaunty moustache and well-cut suits, he exudes urbane intelligence and charm and there is real chemistry between him and Madeleine Carroll. At around 1.02.00 you will find the night in the country inn where they are handcuffed together. This is a very funny scene, with Donat convincing the romantic-natured landlady that they are, ‘so terribly in love’. It also has a potentially sexually charged moment, made physically amusing by the situation of the handcuffs, when Donat helps Carroll to remove her stockings. Yet again, beneath all the teasing, tough talk and tall tales, we see Donat’s eyes twinkling and his generosity as an actor.  He is always playing the scene with her, not indulging himself, but watching and responding to every nuance of the moment.

In the earlier scene at 29.10 between him and the luminous young Peggy Ashcroft as the crofter’s wife (a rare moment of her on screen), we see real moments of tenderness from him as she protects him from her bullying husband.

Again, Donat’s whole physicality is used to the utmost, and often to comic effect, in this action-packed film in which he is always self-assured, but never pompous. And, as always, the teamwork with his fellow actors is perfect.

Robert Donat never short-changes us. He is the master of sub-text and of hiding his feelings beneath the surface. They are allowed to bubble up only when it is truthful for them to do so. The work is spare and genuine, never embroidered for effect – and timeless. As riveting to watch now as when the films were first made. Styles of filmmaking may change, accents may move on, world-views alter, but the truth of great acting doesn’t change.  As Donat puts it:

‘ When that relentless eye goggles at us in close-up we may be sure of one thing – we must deliver up to it the finest work of which we are capable; nothing but the truth will do.’

His advice is as absolute a truth now as ever it was. And I end with one last quote from him:

‘…The film actor’s most important asset is the eye. Didn’t somebody once say that the eye is the window of the soul?’

Robert Donat’s soul is still there for all to see who watch his films.

Thank you very much to Julie/jigsmave for permission to include this video.

© Mel Churcher, all rights reserved.

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www.melchurcher.com

Twitter: @MelChurcher

Publications:

Acting for Film: Truth 24 Times a Second Virgin Books. (2003)

A Screen Acting Workshop + DVD Nick Hern Books. (2011)

Welcome to the Donatotorium!

22 Sep

If a natatorium is a building housing a swimming pool, then the Donatotorium is a site simply swimming with fresh (almost daily) Robert Donat-y goodness.  Your blog mistresses Gill and Jenny have pulled out all the stops and left no metaphor unturned to bring you the most Robert Donat in one place in cyberspace.  Whether you are a new conquest or full-on fanatic, we’re confident you’re going to love what you see here.

There’s enough here to keep even the most ardent Donatofile busy for a while, from a thorough but succinct biography to an unhealthy number of swoon-worthy pictures, but there’s even more to come.  Stay tuned for more screen caps, guest posts from experts and academics, and in depth analysis (read pro-Donat snark) of the man’s all-too-brief filmography.

So take a look (and listen) around and let us know what you think.  Being arty-sensitive types, we live for comments.  Even if you don’t have anything much to discuss, we’d love to hear from you. One of our objectives is to find out just how many of us are out here.  Is there a Robert Donat fandom?  Could there be?  We’ll find out, I think.

Welcome to the Donatotorium.  Let the madness begin.