Just Don’t Smoke, Jack

September 14, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, LIFE | 0 Comments |

Jack Hawkins (14 September 1910 – 18 July 1973)

Hawkins was a dependable figure in top flight films for at least a decade.  He specialised in bumptious, slightly wily men of military bent, but could expand upon that range when required.  He was not a subtle actor, but always a pleasing presence.

His notable films are The Fallen Idol (1948), The Cruel Sea (1953), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) (an over-praised film where he is easily more natural in his performance than Alec Guinness or Bill Holden), Ben-Hur (1959), The League of Gentlemen (1960) (a particularly suave and engaging performance as the head of a gang of bank-thieves), Five Finger Exercise (1962), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (a film that violently divides The Varnished Culture‘s offices, but we would contend his crafty General Allenby is excellent even if, bizarrely, you don’t like the movie overall), and Zulu (1963), quite good as the drunken padre with misplaced pacifism.

As with Yul Brynner, the gaspers got him in the end.  Even when his voice went, even when his films were dubbed and he was exploring surgery to have an artificial voice-box transplanted, he couldn’t give up the nicotine bon-bons.  Hence he went up in smoke at age 62.  But he never whined about it, and he had a good, if not a long, innings.



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