Richard Attenborough: The roles you knew (and some you didn’t)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, August 24, 2014 7:47PM EDT
Lord Richard Attenborough died at the age of 90 on Sunday, leaving behind a formidable body of work as both an actor and a director.
Attenborough had 78 acting roles and 12 directing credits over his more than 60-year career. He started acting as a young man and only stopped for a 14-year period to focus on directing.
Here are some of the works he’ll be best-remembered for, and others you might have missed:
Children of the 1990s may know Attenborough best as John Hammond, the free-spending founder of Jurassic Park, who bites off more than he can chew with his nature-defying push to bring dinosaurs back from extinction. And even though Hammond’s hubris gets many people killed, Attenborough’s performance makes it hard to hate the well-meaning old man.
Attenborough’s 1982 Gandhi biopic won him best director and best picture at the Academy Awards, and made him one of the more sought-after directors of the decade.
The following scene from “Gandhi” shows Attenborough’s subtle cinematic style, as the camera follows one man through a crowd of Gandhi’s followers, without giving away that an assassination is about to take place.
Before he arrived in Hollywood, Attenborough had a long list of critically acclaimed roles in British theatre and film. His breakout British film role came as Pinkie Brown, a young, vicious mob leader in the 1947 film adaptation of the Graham Greene novel, “Brighton Rock.” Attenborough had already played the character on stage years before.
Attenborough’s Pinkie is ruthless and intimidating as he kills a man who is begging for his life in this clip from the film:
The Great Escape
Attenborough’s first Hollywood film role was as Roger (Big X) Bartlett, a British soldier who repeatedly tries to break out of a Nazi internment camp in the “Great Escape.”
This scene shows Attenborough’s Bartlett slipping up just before he can get away on a bus out of the country:
Flight of the Phoenix
In 1965’s “Flight of the Phoenix,” Attenborough plays the navigator on an aircraft that crash-lands in the desert, stranding the passengers and crew.
Watch as Attenborough freaks out on the pilot (played by Jimmy Stewart) after they get a bit of bad news in this scene from the film:
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Fresh off the success of Jurassic Park, Attenborough took on the daunting task of playing Kris Kringle in the 1994 John Hughes remake of “Miracle on 34th Street.” It was just his second acting role in 14 years, after he spent more than a decade working strictly as a director.
In this scene from the film, Attenborough’s “Santa” speaks to a deaf girl in sign language.