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Turning a spotlight on an actor who is sometimes eclipsed by his role in Gone with the Wind. The irony of Howard's involvement in the ultimate Hollywood blockbuster is that in his time, Leslie carved one of the most unique careers in 1930's Hollywood, taking control of his films in a way few of his contemporaries would dream of. A man of strong principals despite an outward appearance of vagueness, he took a stand for other actors, most famously Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest, less famously William Gargan and Ilka Chase on The Animal Kingdom. Later he insisted on returning to England as World War 2 began, so he could contribute to the war effort - a role which made him an enemy and possible target of the Nazis. A compelling, intimate documentary, boasting much unseen footage of Howard and those he knew.Written by
Narrator, host and producer Derek Partridge had, at the age of 7, given up his seat to actor Leslie Howard for the ill-fated Flight 777. See more »
Invitation only, working-print screenings: National Film Board, Toronto, 9/15/09; Dorking, Surrey, 9/22/11. First public screening: Almost British FF, SF, 2/14/15 (1st Place, audience-award documentaries). 24th Chichester Int'l. FF, Sussex, 8/18/2015 (2nd Place). Regent St. Cinema, London, 12/17/15. Britweek, 5/5/2017 (M. Mitchell Museum, Atlanta). The Cinema, 6/1/17 (Sanctum Hotel, London). Star Cinema, Golders Green, London, 2017. Talking Pictures TV, 12/27/17 & 12/30/17 plus to-be-confirmed screenings in 2018 (up to 1 year's showings, UK). TCM June 2018 (Star of the Month) through Dec. 2021 (for 50 showings). See more »
Odd indeed that a man regarded as a quintessential Englishman on stage and
screen was an adopted one, the son of a Hungarian Jewish father and a partly German Jew. But that was Leslie Howard a man who crossed the Atlantic
quite regularly to star on the British and American stage and screen.
A kid whose parents wanted to send him into some humdrum business career,
you could not contain his creativity which only at a last resort channeled itself into acting.
I found it fascinating how the two children, Ronald and Leslie seemed to
take with equanimity their father's womanizing. Merle Oberon and secretary Violette Cunningham were only the two most prominent. Something that Ruth Howard just put up with as did Robert Mitchum's wife.
Interesting also that the two films he didn't think much of were the two that
he co-starred with Clark Gable. In A Free Soul, Gable was a newcomer and
Howard was a distinct 4th behind Lionel Barrymore's Best Actor performance and Gable's roughhewn gangster and Norma Shearer's woman
with an itch. And he could never convince David O. Selznick he wasn't quite
right for Ashley Wilkes. It would have been interesting had he lived another
two decades with a few revivals of Gone With The Wind and seen the response to it even today what he might have thought.
Enough great roles to remember him in any event. The
Scarlet Pimpernel, Of Human Bondage, Pygmalion. We are fortunate also
that preserved on film are Broadway starring roles in The Petrified Forest and The Animal Kingdom and Berkeley Square.
Of course the speculation grows even now about the doomed airline flight
from Lisbon to London where he was shot down over the Bay of Biscay by
the Germans. He was most active in the war effort. He served in the
trenches during the first World War. He died in the second as surely as any
soldier, sailor, or airman.
The film is a great tribute to a great star.
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