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Laurie, John (1897-1980)


Main image of Laurie, John (1897-1980)

A hugely prolific Scots character player, John Laurie was Central School-trained, on stage from 1921 after World War I service and in films since Juno and the Paycock (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1930).

Gaunt-faced and intense, he came to attention in his third film, Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935), as the jealous crofter, and was memorable again and again, in three 1944 films: The Way Ahead (d. Carol Reed), as the farmer recruit; Fanny By Gaslight (d. Anthony Asquith), as the proprietor of 'The Shades' brothel; and as Captain Jamie in Henry V (d. Laurence Olivier). He was in all three of Olivier's Shakespeare films, not surprising for someone who spent so much time playing the Bard at Stratford, the Old Vic and the Open Air, Regent's Park.

There was also a great deal of TV, most popularly as Frazer in Dad's Army (BBC, 1968-77, also in the 1971 film version, d. Norman Cohen), and he finally appeared looking sprightly but (as you might after such a career) frail in Return to the Edge of the World (d. Michael Powell, 1978) as one of the surviving participants of Powell's 1937 romantic melodrama, The Edge of the World. Did such actors ever have a holiday?

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of 'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945)'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945)

Metaphysical love story, beautifully filmed in the Scottish Hebrides

Thumbnail image of 39 Steps, The (1935)39 Steps, The (1935)

Classic Hitchcock thriller about spies, secrets and Scotland

Thumbnail image of As You Like It (1937)As You Like It (1937)

Britain's first sound Shakespeare feature film

Thumbnail image of Edge of the World, The (1937)Edge of the World, The (1937)

Michael Powell's Scottish island saga was his first truly personal film

Thumbnail image of Fanny By Gaslight (1944)Fanny By Gaslight (1944)

Costume melodrama about a Cabinet minister's illegitimate daughter

Thumbnail image of Four Feathers, The (1939)Four Feathers, The (1939)

Lavish Technicolor costume epic about an alleged coward fighting in the Sudan

Thumbnail image of Gentle Sex, The (1943)Gentle Sex, The (1943)

WWII drama about seven women in the Auxiliary Territorial Service

Thumbnail image of Hamlet (1948)Hamlet (1948)

Laurence Olivier's multi-Oscar-winning Shakespeare adaptation

Thumbnail image of Henry V (1944)Henry V (1944)

Laurence Olivier turns Shakespeare into rousing propaganda

Thumbnail image of Her Last Affaire (1935)Her Last Affaire (1935)

Relatively big-budget early Powell feature with a Hitchcockian flavour

Thumbnail image of Hobson's Choice (1953)Hobson's Choice (1953)

Charles Laughton stars in this definitive version of a much-filmed play

Thumbnail image of Jassy (1947)Jassy (1947)

Technicolor melodrama about a gypsy girl with second sight

Thumbnail image of Juno and the Paycock (1930)Juno and the Paycock (1930)

Hitchcock adaptation of Sean O'Casey's play about Irish nationalism

Thumbnail image of Lamp Still Burns, The (1943)Lamp Still Burns, The (1943)

Unsubtle but fascinating film about the pre-NHS nursing profession

Thumbnail image of Laughter in Paradise (1951)Laughter in Paradise (1951)

Alastair Sim stars in a comedy about a practical joker's legacy

Thumbnail image of Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The (1943)Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The (1943)

Ambitious wartime saga which infuriated Churchill

Thumbnail image of Madeleine (1949)Madeleine (1949)

David Lean's film about real-life alleged murderess Madeleine Smith

Thumbnail image of New Lot, The (1943)New Lot, The (1943)

Propaganda short that became the model for The Way Ahead

Thumbnail image of Red Ensign (1934)Red Ensign (1934)

A visionary shipbuilder strives to rescue the British shipping industry

Thumbnail image of Reptile, The (1966)Reptile, The (1966)

An English village falls prey to a mysterious predator

Thumbnail image of Richard III (1955)Richard III (1955)

Laurence Olivier's definitive version of Shakespeare's great history play

Thumbnail image of Sailors Three (1940)Sailors Three (1940)

Jolly wartime naval comedy starring Tommy Trinder

Thumbnail image of Way Ahead, The (1944)Way Ahead, The (1944)

Inspiring propaganda film following the making of an Army unit

Thumbnail image of Dad's Army (1968-77)Dad's Army (1968-77)

World War II sitcom about the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard

Thumbnail image of Return to the Edge of the World (1978)Return to the Edge of the World (1978)

Michael Powell returns to the locations of his 1937 classic

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