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Griffith, Hugh (1912-1980)


Main image of Griffith, Hugh (1912-1980)

With a touch of the farouche, wild-eyed Hugh Griffith was a formidable character player, the highlight of whose 40-year film career was winning a supporting actor Oscar as the Sheikh in Ben-Hur (US, d. William Wyler, 1959), though his wildly blusterous, Oscar-nominated, Squire Western in Tom Jones (d. Tony Richardson, 1963) is just as film-stealing.

Formerly a bank clerk, RADA-trained (Bancroft Gold Medallist) Griffith was on stage from 1939, had seasons at Stratford, the Old Vic, on Broadway, and did a lot of touring, with King Lear his favourite role. He entered films also in 1939 and quickly showed he didn't need much screen time to make his presence felt: witness the Lord High Steward in the penultimate episode of Kind Hearts and Coronets (d. Robert Hamer, 1949), the fire-breathing Professor Welch in Lucky Jim (d. John Boulting, 1957), the vengeful magistrate in Oliver! (d. Carol Reed, 1968), to choose three almost at random. In his last 20 years, he was much in demand for international films.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of Final Programme, The (1973)Final Programme, The (1973)

Inventive, psychedelic adaptation of Michael Moorcock's sci-fi novel

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

Rural melodrama of a young woman pursued by predatory men.

Thumbnail image of Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Deliciously dark comedy, featuring no fewer than nine Alec Guinnesses

Thumbnail image of Laughter in Paradise (1951)Laughter in Paradise (1951)

Alastair Sim stars in a comedy about a practical joker's legacy

Thumbnail image of London Belongs To Me (1948)London Belongs To Me (1948)

Eccentric comedy-thriller about a fake psychic and an accidental murder

Thumbnail image of Lucky Jim (1957)Lucky Jim (1957)

Adaptation of the satirical Kingsley Amis novel about a disaffected lecturer

Thumbnail image of Oliver! (1968)Oliver! (1968)

Lionel Bart's Oscar-winning musical adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist

Thumbnail image of Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)

Joseph Losey's British debut stars Dirk Bogarde as a young criminal

Thumbnail image of Titfield Thunderbolt, The (1953)Titfield Thunderbolt, The (1953)

Ealing comedy in which the villagers of Titfield decide to run their own railway

Thumbnail image of Quatermass II (1955)Quatermass II (1955)

The Professor faces an alien invasion of Earth following a meteor shower

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