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Radford, Basil (1897-1952)


Main image of Radford, Basil (1897-1952)

A hugely enjoyable character player, Basil Radford was one of those actors who does one thing superbly well: he perfected the slightly flummoxed, unfailingly courteous, public-school, civil-servant type.

He and Naunton Wayne, as the cricketing fanatics, Charters and Caldicott, brought moments of pure joy to The Lady Vanishes (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1938), Night Train to Munich (d. Carol Reed, 1940), and Millions Like Us (d. Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat, 1943), films already enjoyable enriched further by their quintessential Englishness, played perfectly straight and leaving the audience to assess the parody level.

They also appeared together memorably in such other films as Dead of Night (in 'Golfing Story', d. Charles Crichton, 1945) and Passport to Pimlico (d. Henry Cornelius, 1949), as Whitehall chaps. Radford, on stage from 1922, was untypically touching as the family solicitor who proposes to the sister of The Winslow Boy (d. Anthony Asquith, 1948) and had perhaps his finest hour as Colonel Waggett driven to distraction in Whisky Galore! (d. Alexander Mackendrick, 1949). He died sadly young from a heart attack.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of Broken Blossoms (1936)Broken Blossoms (1936)

A Chinese immigrant finds love in the slums of London's East End

Thumbnail image of Captive Heart, The (1946)Captive Heart, The (1946)

Ealing POW drama, made only a few months after the end of WWII

Thumbnail image of Chance of a Lifetime (1950)Chance of a Lifetime (1950)

Fascinating industrial relations drama in which workers take over a factory

Thumbnail image of Convict 99 (1938)Convict 99 (1938)

Comedy with Will Hay mistaken for both prisoner and governor

Thumbnail image of Dead of Night (1945)Dead of Night (1945)

Classic Ealing portmanteau film: five tales of the supernatural

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

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

Thumbnail image of Lady Vanishes, The (1938)Lady Vanishes, The (1938)

Glorious comic thriller about a mysteriously disappearing old woman

Thumbnail image of Millions Like Us (1943)Millions Like Us (1943)

Launder & Gilliat film about the lives of women during World War II

Thumbnail image of Next of Kin, The (1942)Next of Kin, The (1942)

Brutally effective WWII propaganda film on the dangers of careless talk.

Thumbnail image of Passport to Pimlico (1949)Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Cherished comedy in which a Pimlico street declares its independence

Thumbnail image of Way to the Stars, The (1945)Way to the Stars, The (1945)

Deceptively low-key drama about RAF pilots in World War II

Thumbnail image of Whisky Galore! (1949)Whisky Galore! (1949)

Gently subversive Ealing comedy about whisky smuggling in the Hebrides

Thumbnail image of Winslow Boy, The (1948)Winslow Boy, The (1948)

Adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play about a boy accused of theft

Thumbnail image of Young and Innocent (1937)Young and Innocent (1937)

Hitchcock thriller about an innocent man suspected of murder

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