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Banks, Leslie (1890-1952)


Main image of Banks, Leslie (1890-1952)

Liverpool-born, Oxford-educated, on stage from 1911, Leslie Banks entered films in Hollywood in the famous horror piece, The Most Dangerous Game (US, d. Ernest B.Schoedsack, 1932, aka The Hounds of Zaroff), returned to Britain for Strange Evidence (d. Robert Milton, 1933) and became an important character star. A facially-paralysing injury in World War I left him without the leading man's conventional handsomeness, but did not preclude interesting roles.

He starred for Hitchcock in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and Jamaica Inn (1939), Michael Powell in The Fire Raisers (1933), Red Ensign and The Night of the Party (1934), Zoltan Korda in Sanders of the River (1935), bearing the white man's burden in Africa, and Thorold Dickinson in The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939).

His civilised, rugged persona was cleverly exploited in Went the Day Well? (d. Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942) as the treacherous squire; he was a memorably inviting Chorus in Olivier's Henry V (1944); and in his last film, Madeleine (d. David Lean, 1949), he was Ann Todd's oppressive Victorian father.

He was awarded the CBE in 1950.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Cinema

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Thumbnail image of Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)

Very entertaining football-based comic thriller

Thumbnail image of Cottage To Let (1941)Cottage To Let (1941)

WWII espionage thriller that introduced Alastair Sim to George Cole

Thumbnail image of Fire Raisers, The (1933)Fire Raisers, The (1933)

Michael Powell 'quota quickie' about a gang of arsonists

Thumbnail image of Jamaica Inn (1939)Jamaica Inn (1939)

Hitchcock's last pre-Hollywood film, a tale of Cornish smugglers

Thumbnail image of Madeleine (1949)Madeleine (1949)

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

Thumbnail image of Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)

The original version of Hitchcock's classic man-on-the-run thriller

Thumbnail image of Night of the Party, The (1934)Night of the Party, The (1934)

Early Powell murder mystery with Ernest Thesiger and Leslie Banks

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

A visionary shipbuilder strives to rescue the British shipping industry

Thumbnail image of Sanders of the River (1935)Sanders of the River (1935)

The first of Korda's British colonial epics, disowned by its star

Thumbnail image of Ships with Wings (1941)Ships with Wings (1941)

Stiff-upper-lipped Ealing war film celebrating the Fleet Air Arm

Thumbnail image of Small Back Room, The (1949)Small Back Room, The (1949)

Tense drama about an alcoholic bomb disposal expert

Thumbnail image of Tunnel, The (1935)Tunnel, The (1935)

Flawed but fascinating future vision of a translatlantic tunnel

Thumbnail image of Went the Day Well? (1942)Went the Day Well? (1942)

Chilling classic imagining a brutal Nazi invasion of a small English village

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