Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Denham, Maurice (1909-2002)


Main image of Denham, Maurice (1909-2002)

One of the great British character players, with over 100 films to his credit, as many TV roles (most famously as Judi Dench's father in Talking to a Stranger, BBC, 1966) and a great deal of theatre, where he began in 1934, giving up a career as an engineer. He became famous on radio for ITMA, before WW2 army service, and postwar for Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh.

His bald head and invincibly intelligent look became a fixture in British films for 50 years, often as officials, chilly (the force-feeding doctor in Fame Is the Spur (d. Roy Boulting, 1947) or benign (Major Fraser in Blanche Fury, d. Marc All├ęgret, 1947), and military men of every rank, but he could also be shifty as in Street Corner (d. Muriel Box, 1953), seriously sinister as the child molester in Eight O'Clock Walk (d. Lance Comfort, 1954), despairing as Blore in The Purple Plain (d. Robert Parrish, 1954, BAFTA nomination) and defeated as Peggy Ashcroft's husband in Sunday Bloody Sunday (d. John Schlesinger, 1971), and marvellously funny, as, say, the craven vicar in Once Upon a Dream (d. Ralph Thomas, 1949), the yokel policeman in Poet's Pub (d. Frederick Wilson, 1949), or, above all, as the mad Nazi spy at large in rural England in It's Not Cricket (d. Alfred Roome, 1949). His is a gallery with few equals. He was awarded an OBE in 1992.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Animal Farm (1954)Animal Farm (1954)

Britain's first animated feature, an adaptation of Orwell's classic

Thumbnail image of Captain Boycott (1947)Captain Boycott (1947)

Lively drama about 19th-century Irish civil disobedience

Thumbnail image of Daybreak (1948)Daybreak (1948)

Eric Portman stars as a man leading a double life as hangman and hairdresser

Thumbnail image of End of the River, The (1947)End of the River, The (1947)

Brazil-based melodrama starring Sabu as a young man accused of murder

Thumbnail image of Jassy (1947)Jassy (1947)

Technicolor melodrama about a gypsy girl with second sight

Thumbnail image of Last Rhino, The (1961)Last Rhino, The (1961)

Safari adventure in which two children save a rhino from hunters

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 Madness of the Heart (1949)Madness of the Heart (1949)

Melodrama with Margaret Lockwood as a blind nun

Thumbnail image of Miranda (1948)Miranda (1948)

Glynis Johns plays a mermaid in this light fishy comedy

Thumbnail image of My Brother's Keeper (1948)My Brother's Keeper (1948)

Fast-paced thriller with Jack Warner and George Cole as fugitive convicts

Thumbnail image of Nanny, The (1965)Nanny, The (1965)

Hammer chiller which suggests that nanny doesn't always know best

Thumbnail image of Night of the Demon (1957)Night of the Demon (1957)

Clever, subtle occult chiller by American director Jacques Tourneur

Thumbnail image of Oliver Twist (1948)Oliver Twist (1948)

David Lean's definitive version of Charles Dickens' classic novel

Thumbnail image of Our Man in Havana (1959)Our Man in Havana (1959)

Alec Guinness is out of his depth in pre-revolution Cuba

Thumbnail image of Simon and Laura (1955)Simon and Laura (1955)

Soap opera satire: a real-life couple plays a happier version of themselves

Thumbnail image of Spider and the Fly, The (1949)Spider and the Fly, The (1949)

A policeman and a crook discover they have more in common than not

Thumbnail image of Wires over the Border (1974)Wires over the Border (1974)

The electrification of the Crewe to Glasgow railway line

Thumbnail image of Agatha Christie Hour, The (1982)Agatha Christie Hour, The (1982)

Ten short stories from the Queen of Crime

Thumbnail image of Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978)Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978)

Lavish Thames dramatisation of the romance that rocked Britain

Thumbnail image of Julius Caesar (1969)Julius Caesar (1969)

Impressive Play of the Month adaptation with a starry cast

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

Outstanding adaptation of Muriel Spark's unsettling novel

Thumbnail image of Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)

Dark drama in which London Zoo stands for Britain's dystopian future

Thumbnail image of Schalcken the Painter (1979)Schalcken the Painter (1979)

Supernatural drama based on a story by Sheridan Le Fanu

Thumbnail image of Talking to a Stranger (1966)Talking to a Stranger (1966)

Landmark drama of family tragedy featuring a young Judi Dench

Related collections

Related people and organisations