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Tony Grist

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Little Johnny Mills [Apr. 25th, 2005|09:51 am]
Tony Grist
We had a power cut in the night. I know about it because the back-up power sources on a couple of nearby house alarms kicked in. I guess those things can't be switched off, because they rang without interruption for about an hour. Then the power came back and one after another all the house alarms on the street started chirruping, like a mechanical dawn chorus.

Sir John Mills died at the weekend. He was 97 and he made over 100 films- the first in 1932 and the last in 2003. He wasn't a showy actor but he was a damn good one. I think my favourite is Ice Cold in Alex- where he has his hair dyed white-blond and where at the climax he gets to sink a frosty pint of lager in a single draught. They needed six or seven takes on that one- and afterwards he had to go and lie down in a darkened room for the rest of the afternoon.

He made an awful lot of war movies. And- more perhaps than any other actor- came to personify the national myth of stiff-jawed resistance to nazi aggression. We had Churchill, We had the Queen Mum and we had little Johnny Mills. Actually his range was a lot broader than that. He was Pip in Great Expectations, the village idiot in Ryan's Daughter (for which he got an Oscar) and (his personal favourite) mouse-like Willie Mossop in Hobson's Choice (all for the same diector- David Lean.) He was the last survivor of that great generation of British actors that was headed by Olivier and Gielgud. Now that he's gone, I can believe that the 20th century really has come to an end.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-25 04:51 am (UTC)
I knew Mills only because of his daughter, Hallie.

I took my little sisters about three times to see The Parent Trap.

We all loved Hallie.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-25 06:10 am (UTC)
Ooh, let me recommend a movie. Hayley
Mills in Whistle Down the Wind- a charming story about a bunch of kids in rural Yorkshire who mistake an escaped criminal for Jesus.



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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-25 06:13 am (UTC)
I went over to my pal Netflix, but Whistle Down the Wind isn't available!

Too bad. It sounds intriguing.

What is Hayley up to these days?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-25 06:21 am (UTC)
She lives in the States and is still acting, mainly in live theatre. In 2001 she appeared in a New York production of- wait for it- The Vagina Monologues.

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-04-25 08:23 am (UTC)
I loved her in the Flame Trees of Thika (may not be spelled right...) Hayley and Ben Cross.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-25 08:46 am (UTC)
I can't think I've seen any of her adult performances. She's kept herself busy, but her film work has been few and far between.
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From: isoldout
2005-04-25 08:10 am (UTC)
I loved him in Great Expectations.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-25 08:39 am (UTC)
I don't think he ever gave a bad performance.
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