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Farrar, David (1908-1995)


Main image of Farrar, David (1908-1995)

David Farrar, riding high in critical and popular esteem, went to Hollywood and, though he enjoyed the glamour, it ruined his career, via films such as The Golden Horde (US, d. George Sherman, 1951) and The Black Shield of Falworth (US, d. Rudolph Maté, 1954), usually in two-dimensional villain roles.

A strongly virile figure, he had served a ten-year apprenticeship in British films before making his mark in Michael Powell's Black Narcissus (1947), as the district agent who stirs up sexual tensions in a Himalayan convent. There were two other striking roles for Powell - as the lame bomb-disposal expert in The Small Back Room (1948) and the swaggering squire in Gone to Earth (1950) - and substantial leads for Ealing in Frieda (d. Basil Dearden, 1947) and Cage of Gold (d. Dearden, 1950).

This burst of star filming climaxed a career begun in 1937, after a stint at journalism and stage experience from 1932: he played Sexton Blake twice, had small parts in big films, like Went the Day Well? (d. Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942), starred in Ealing's semi-documentary about the Air-Sea Rescue Service, For Those in Peril (d. Charles Crichton, 1944), and made several poor films at British National, including Lisbon Story (d. Paul L.Stein, 1946), before hitting his stride in the late 1940s.

He retired when he was just over 50, unwilling to play 'the heroine's father' as he did in Beat Girl (d. Edmond T.Gréville, 1960), depriving British cinema of an interesting mix of sneering authority and sensitivity, and eventually moving to South Africa.

Autobiography: No Royal Road, 1948.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of 'Beat' Girl (1959)'Beat' Girl (1959)

Cautionary tale about a respectable girl turned sleazy stripper

Thumbnail image of Battle of the River Plate, The (1956)Battle of the River Plate, The (1956)

Last of the Powell/Pressburger partnership - a WWII naval drama

Thumbnail image of Black Narcissus (1947)Black Narcissus (1947)

Remarkably passionate melodrama set in a Himalayan convent

Thumbnail image of Diamond City (1949)Diamond City (1949)

Lively British 'Western' set in South Africa's diamond fields

Thumbnail image of Frieda (1947)Frieda (1947)

Ealing social problem melodrama about postwar anti-German prejudice

Thumbnail image of Gone to Earth (1950)Gone to Earth (1950)

Rural melodrama of a young woman pursued by predatory men.

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

Tense drama about an alcoholic bomb disposal expert

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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