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Hardwicke, Sir Cedric (1893-1964)


Main image of Hardwicke, Sir Cedric (1893-1964)

The main film career of this illustrious film character actor belongs to Hollywood, where he first went in 1934, and returned in the late 1930s, staying to play dozens of dignified persons, sometimes villainous (Mr Jones in Victory (US, d. John Cromwell, 1940), occasionally benign (the old actor in I Remember Mama, US, d. George Stevens, 1948), at times imperious (Senator Cabot Lodge in Wilson, US, d. Henry King, 1944).

From 1912, after RADA training, he had a very long and distinguished stage career in London and New York, excelling as an interpreter of Shaw, whose fifth favourite actor he was (the first four were the Marx Brothers). He was knighted in 1934.

His British films are comparatively few, but there are still more than twenty and some of his roles are choice. After a couple of silents - Riches and Rogues (1913) and Nelson (d. Walter Summers, 1926) - he began filming in earnest in 1931 (Dreyfus (d. Milton Rosmer)), and had excellent chances as the bullying Scots author, McBane, in Rome Express (d. Walter Forde, 1932), a ringleted Charles II in Nell Gwyn (d. Herbert Wilcox, 1934), the emotional artist Theotocopulos in Things to Come (d. William Cameron Menzies, 1936) and the scheming Earl of Warwick in Tudor Rose (d. Robert Stevenson, 1936), and Allan Quartermain in King Solomon's Mines (d. Robert Stevenson, 1937).

After World War II (he had served in the Army in World War I), he made several more films in Britain: he was a malevolent Uncle Ralph in Nicholas Nickleby (d. Cavalcanti, 1947), a moving, obdurate figure as father of The Winslow Boy (d. Anthony Asquith, 1948), and, finally, in The Pumpkin Eater (d. Jack Clayton, 1964), as Anne Bancroft's intimidating father. "Intimidating" was perhaps what he did best, but the range is wide and the pickings rich: he was apparently always short of cash which was bad luck for him but not for filmgoers as it meant he played over 80 roles with consummate authority.

His first wife was actress Helena Pickard, and Edward Hardwicke is their son.

Autobiography: A Victorian in Orbit (1960).

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of King Solomon's Mines (1937)King Solomon's Mines (1937)

Empire adventure about the hunt for legendary African diamond mines

Thumbnail image of Laburnum Grove (1936)Laburnum Grove (1936)

Engaging early Carol Reed comedy about a suburban forger

Thumbnail image of Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The (1947)Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The (1947)

Cavalcanti's adaptation of Dickens' classic novel

Thumbnail image of Nell Gwyn (1934)Nell Gwyn (1934)

Early role for Anna Neagle as Charles II's famous mistress

Thumbnail image of Pumpkin Eater, The (1964)Pumpkin Eater, The (1964)

Fascinating, underrated study of a troubled marriage

Thumbnail image of Rome Express (1932)Rome Express (1932)

Delightful comedy-thriller set on a VIP-packed express train

Thumbnail image of Things to Come (1936)Things to Come (1936)

Britain's biggest sci-fi film of the 1930s, adapted from H.G.Wells

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

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

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