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Cusack, Cyril (1910-1993)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Cusack, Cyril (1910-1993)

A notable Irish character player, on stage aged seven and film the following year (Knocknagow, UK/Ireland, d. Fred O'Donovan, 1918), he joined the Abbey Theatre in 1932, and first appeared on the London stage in 1936. Despite maintaining a busy stage career, he became a very recognisable film presence, especially in the postwar period, memorably in Powell and Pressburger's The Small Back Room (1949), as a stammering corporal, Gone to Earth (1950) as Jennifer Jones's clergyman husband, and, enjoying himself, as the duplicitous Chauvelin in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950).

But even in much less distinctive films, he was distinctive: as a dipsomanic inmate of a dubious hospital in Man in the Road (d. Lance Comfort, 1956), his dissecting eye and verbal asperity command the attention. Too stocky for a leading man, he went on acting until his death, last appearing in Christine Edzard's As You Like It (1992) and Far and Away (US/Ireland, d. Ron Howard, 1992).

He occasionally filmed in the US, first in Soldiers Three (US, d. Tay Garnett, 1951), and did much notable television, including his last, Memento Mori (BBC, 1992). Four of his children - Sinead, Sorcha, Niamh and Catherine - are actresses.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Elusive Pimpernel, The (1950)Elusive Pimpernel, The (1950)

David Niven stars in an entertaining tale of revolutionary France

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

Rural melodrama of a young woman pursued by predatory men.

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 Little Dorrit (1987)Little Dorrit (1987)

Ambitious two-film adaptation of one of Dickens' greatest works

Thumbnail image of Miracle in Soho (1957)Miracle in Soho (1957)

Slight but poetic story about unexpected love in postwar Soho

Thumbnail image of Odd Man Out (1947)Odd Man Out (1947)

A wounded Republican gunman dodges police on Belfast's streets

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

Tense drama about an alcoholic bomb disposal expert

Thumbnail image of Comedy of Errors, The (1983)Comedy of Errors, The (1983)

BBC Television Shakespeare adaptation with Roger Daltrey

Thumbnail image of Jesus of Nazareth (1977)Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Robert Powell plays Jesus Christ in Franco Zeffirelli's famous miniseries

Thumbnail image of Memento Mori (1992)Memento Mori (1992)

Outstanding adaptation of Muriel Spark's unsettling novel

Thumbnail image of Passage to India, A (1965)Passage to India, A (1965)

The first screen adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic novel

Thumbnail image of Rainy Day Women (1984)Rainy Day Women (1984)

Poignant drama about wartime tensions in a remote English village

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