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Washbourne, Mona (1904-1988)


Main image of Washbourne, Mona (1904-1988)

Mona Washbourne was a trained pianist long before becoming one of British screen's great character players. She was in concert parties from 1924 and on the London stage from 1937; she played the gushing journalist more interested in curtains than justice in The Winslow Boy (1946), reprising this role as her entrée to films (1948).

She never looked back and appeared in about fifty, often in small vivid cameos, but when given the scope showed what she could do. Think of Dirk Bogarde's doting, older wife, murdered for her money, in Cast a Dark Shadow (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1955), of the hero's homely mother and her sophisticated fantasy counterpart in Billy Liar (d. John Schlesinger, 1963), of firm-minded Mrs Pearce in My Fair Lady (US, d. George Cukor, 1964), or of the rich old harridan in danger from Albert Finney in Night Must Fall (d. Karel Reisz, 1964), a film which failed but in which she made something tough, poignant and real of her character.

She simply got better with age, as the chamber piece, Stevie (UK/US, d. Robert Enders, 1978), attests: she makes of Stevie Smith's 'lion aunt of Hull' one of the most memorable figures in '70s British film. As well, there was a good deal of TV, including a transfer of her 1970 stage success in David Storey's Home (US, 1971). She married Basil Dignam.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Hugely popular medical comedy, the first in a long-running series

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Jessie Matthews plays two roles in this Rodgers and Hart musical comedy

Thumbnail image of Maytime in Mayfair (1949)Maytime in Mayfair (1949)

Light Anna Neagle comedy set in the world of haute couture - in Technicolor

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 Yield to the Night (1956)Yield to the Night (1956)

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Thumbnail image of Brideshead Revisited (1981)Brideshead Revisited (1981)

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