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Goring, Marius (1912-1998)


Main image of Goring, Marius (1912-1998)

Educated at Perse School Cambridge and at several European universities, Marius Goring, in nearly 50 films, maintained an urbane image - when, that is, he wasn't being notably sinister. Wholly British as he was, he was remarkably adept at suggesting foreigners, sometimes merely decadent (like the playboy in The Barefoot Contessa (US/Italy, d. Joseph L Mankiewicz, 1954)), sometimes actual Nazi swine (as in Pastor Hall, 1940; I Was Monty's Double, 1958).

The stage (in London from 1927) was his first love: he had several Old Vic seasons in the 30s, playing a range of Shakespearian roles, including a much-praised Feste in Twelfth Night (1937), and seasons at Stratford. He also toured a great deal, in plays classic and modern, and during World War II, having joined the Army in 1940, was appointed supervisor of BBC radio productions broadcasting to Germany. In 1990, he said that he'd enjoyed some of his television work, citing The Old Men at the Zoo (BBC, 1983) as example, "much more than most of my films".

However, his film work stands up very well. He valued the films he made for Michael Powell above the rest: The Spy in Black (1939), as a U-boat captain; A Matter of Life and Death (1946), as the effete heavenly 'conductor' who complains of the absence of Technicolor "up there"; The Red Shoes (1948), as the young composer in love with the doomed ballerina; and Ill-Met by Moonlight (1957), as another Nazi.

However, there were other felicities among his film work, including the increasingly deranged schoolmaster in Mr Perrin and Mr Traill (d. Lawrence Huntington, 1948), the musician obsessed with Ava Gardner in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (d. Albert Lewin, 1950), an equivocal ballet teacher in Circle of Danger (d. Jacques Tourneur, 1950) and another, sympathetic German officer in So Little Time (d. Compton Bennett, 1952). On TV he was a finely flamboyant Scarlet Pimpernel (ITV, 1955) and a gruff ('Bugger Bognor') George V in Edward and Mrs Simpson (Thames, 1980).

As well as his very rich acting career in all the media, he was a vigorous supporter of Actors' Equity, fighting as far as the courts, to maintain its political neutrality so as to strengthen its position with governments of whatever persuasion. He co-founded the union in 1929 and was twice its vice-president (1963-65, 1975-82).

He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1979 and CBE in 1991. His second wife was actress Lucie Mannheim (1941, until her death in 1976), and in 1977 he married television producer Prudence Fitzgerald.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of Ill Met By Moonlight (1957)Ill Met By Moonlight (1957)

Dirk Bogarde-starring drama based on a true story of WWII Crete

Thumbnail image of Matter of Life and Death, A (1946)Matter of Life and Death, A (1946)

Romance fantasy bridging the gap between two worlds

Thumbnail image of Red Shoes, The (1948)Red Shoes, The (1948)

Powell and Pressburger's beautiful and delirious ballet film

Thumbnail image of Spy in Black, The (1939)Spy in Black, The (1939)

The first Powell and Pressburger film: a striking WWI story

Thumbnail image of Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, The (1955)Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, The (1955)

Marius Goring plays the mysterious saviour of French aristocrats

Thumbnail image of Cold Light, The (1956)Cold Light, The (1956)

Fascinating drama of Cold War ethics and loyalties

Thumbnail image of Cymbeline (1983)Cymbeline (1983)

BBC Television Shakespeare adaptation

Thumbnail image of Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978)Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978)

Lavish Thames dramatisation of the romance that rocked Britain

Thumbnail image of Expert, The (1968-71, 1976)Expert, The (1968-71, 1976)

Medical/crime drama based on the cases of a pathologist

Thumbnail image of Hammer House of Horror (1980)Hammer House of Horror (1980)

Horror series about supernatural goings-on in the present day

Thumbnail image of Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)

Dark drama in which London Zoo stands for Britain's dystopian future

Thumbnail image of White Falcon, The (1956)White Falcon, The (1956)

TV dramatisation of the court of Henry VIII

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