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Finney, Albert (1936-)


Main image of Finney, Albert (1936-)

Born in Salford, Albert Finney was a successful stage actor before his film career began with a small role in The Entertainer (1960) for Tony Richardson, a director he had worked with in the theatre. He and Richardson became key figures of the British New Wave of social realism.

Distinctive because of his powerful voice, resonant of his Northern origins, Finney first made his name in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (d. Karel Reisz, 1960), playing Arthur Seaton, a lathe worker who refuses to "let the bastards grind you down".

He conquered US audiences and critics with his spirited portrayal of Tom Jones (d. Tony Richardson, 1963), but shied away from further romantic parts, preferring a variety of character roles, including a psychopath in Night Must Fall (d. Karel Reisz, 1964), the title role in the musical Scrooge (d. Ronald Neame, 1970), an idiosyncratically conceived Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (d. Sidney Lumet, 1974), and a bombastic theatre actor in The Dresser (d. Peter Yates, 1983), the latter two performances being Oscar nominated.

While such choices demonstrate his resistance to stardom, Finney has gained widespread respect playing men who are forces to be reckoned with, and as a result, continues to gain quality work across the media: on TV in Dennis Potter's Karaoke (d. Renny Rye, 1996), and Cold Lazarus (d. Rye, 1996); on stage in the 1996 West End production of Art; in film, Erin Brockovich (US, d. Steven Soderbergh, 2000) opposite box-office magnet Julia Roberts.

Finney is divorced from actresses Jane Wenham (1957-1961) and Anouk Aimée (1970-1978).

Biography: Albert Finney in Character by Quentin Falk (Robson Books, 1998).

Melinda Hildebrandt, Encyclopedia of British Cinema

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