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Baker, Sir Stanley (1928-76)

Actor, Producer

Main image of Baker, Sir Stanley (1928-76)

A burly character star, discovered for films as a teenager by Sergei Nolbandov who cast him in Ealing's Yugoslav-set drama Undercover (1943). Before his next film, All Over The Town in 1949, he worked with Birmingham Rep and did Army service (1946-48). After small film roles, he made his mark as the bullying Bennett in The Cruel Sea (d. Charles Frend, 1952), when the dangerous edge to his working-class he-man persona emerged powerfully.

Busy throughout the rest of the 50s and 60s, he never played conventional leading men - there was always too much sense of threat about him for that - but he created some memorable villains and a few tough heroes in films such as Knights of the Round Table (d. Richard Thorpe, 1953, as Mordred), The Good Die Young (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1954, as a broken-down boxer tempted into crime), Hell Drivers (d. Cy Endfield, 1957, as an ex-con lured into lorry-driving competitiveness), and Joseph Losey's Blind Date (1959, as a policeman with a bad cold).

In 1967, he gave perhaps his subtlest performance as the sexually infatuated academic in Accident (1967), again for Losey, for whom he also made The Criminal (1960) and Eva (France/Italy, 1962). His later choice of roles may seem wayward, but his charismatic presence meant that he was never dull. Freelancing after ending his contract with Rank in 1959, he formed his own production company, Oakhurst, which made The Italian Job (d. Peter Collinson, 1969), among others. He appeared in international films such as Sodom and Gomorrah (Italy/US, 1962) and Pepita Jimenez (Spain, 1975), and he personally produced several films, most notably Zulu (d. Cy Endfield, 1964), in which he also starred. He was knighted in 1976, and married to actress Ellen Martin

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of Accident (1967)Accident (1967)

A fatal car accident triggers an intense psychological drama

Thumbnail image of Criminal, The (1960)Criminal, The (1960)

Joseph Losey's fascinating portrait of a changing criminal underworld

Thumbnail image of Cruel Sea, The (1952)Cruel Sea, The (1952)

Distinguished Ealing war film about the inexperienced crew of a naval warship

Thumbnail image of Good Die Young, The (1954)Good Die Young, The (1954)

Cynical heist thriller that was unusually bleak for the cosy mid-50s

Thumbnail image of Hell Drivers (1957)Hell Drivers (1957)

Uncompromising B movie set in the macho world of ballast truck drivers

Thumbnail image of Hell is a City (1960)Hell is a City (1960)

Tough thriller with Stanley Baker on a murder hunt in Manchester

Thumbnail image of Richard III (1955)Richard III (1955)

Laurence Olivier's definitive version of Shakespeare's great history play

Thumbnail image of Violent Playground (1958)Violent Playground (1958)

Powerful drama with Stanley Baker as a juvenile liaison officer

Thumbnail image of Fear of Strangers, A (1964)Fear of Strangers, A (1964)

A policeman tries to convince a suspect that he committed a murder

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