A belated posting of an obituary for Sir John Mills, who died late last month at the age of 97. He was not quite in the top tier of British actors for his time (the Mills family were once called, unkindly, “the poor man’s Redgraves”) but he gave some memorable film performances that will be around for some time (and the competition – Gielgud, Olivier, et al. – was uncommonly stiff). I have two favorites: the bootmaker Willie Mossop in “Hobson’s Choice” -- trapped between tyrannical father-in-law Charles Laughton and strong-willed wife Brenda de Banzie -- and Major Barrow in “Tunes of Glory”-- facing off against Alec Guinness, the latter in an unaccustomed role as a crusty Scottish colonel. Both men are superb, and I learn from the obituaries that it was Mills’ own favorite film. The movie itself is no great shakes, with wooden direction from Ronald Neame, but press on till the end. You won’t be sorry.
Because Mills won an Oscar for his stunningly misjudged performance as the village idiot in “Ryan’s Daughter” all the obits made special note of it. Do him a posthumous favor and avoid it – the movie is a miss, anyway.
John Mills, R.I.P.
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