Favourite dead not-American actors: an Advent Calendar
Day 4: George Sanders
Oh, George. Let us not waste time wondering how fabulous his career would have been had he cared at all about it, instead let us wallow in the effortless glory that is his best work, and smile indulgently as he saunters from dodgy film to dodgy film, cashing the cheques. Because George at his most phoning-it-in is better than a lot of people on their best days.
I fell in love with George when I was eight and I saw The Jungle Book; I think his voice imprinted on me, and I was a goner. I don’t claim to have seen even half his films, but - contrary to what I usually look for in an actor - there is a quintessential Georgeness to all his performances that makes me happy. Whether he’s strolling his way through the Falcon films (which are actually pretty good - much more fun than the Saint ones) or being effortlessly brilliant for Hitchcock, he is always a delight, always glorious, and you always want more.
Favourite Role: Scott ffolliot in Foreign Correspondent (1940), because he gets to be snarky and suave but also vaguely heroic. It’s one of my fave Hitchcock films, with a great cast and some lovely set pieces.
Another good place to start: Addison De Witt in All About Eve (1950) - a modern day Lord Henry Wotton in a flawless film. Also Gordon Zellaby in Village of the Damned (1960) - where he - a rarity - gets to be decent, tweedy, understated and is a total BAMF.