Dirk Bogarde Talking Pictures


Dirk Bogarde

A look at television appearances made over the years by Hollywood legend Dirk Bogarde, capturing the milestones and highlights of his life and career.


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Transcript


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The idol of the Odeons was how they described Dirk Bogarde.

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Handsome, charming and stylish.

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In Britain of the mid-'50s,

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he was the nation's biggest box office draw,

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his popularity outstripping that of any star from Hollywood.

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Under contract with the Rank Organisation,

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he started out playing villains in films like The Blue Lamp.

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But his star soared after

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he was cast as Dr Simon Sparrow

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in the hugely successful Doctor series

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and from that moment on, pin-up status was assured.

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In the early '60s, Bogarde had just left Rank.

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And he went to Hollywood to play the composer Franz Liszt

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in Song Without End. The film was not a success.

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But the role earned him a Golden Globe nomination

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and is the starting point for this conversation with

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Robert Robinson from the programme Picture Parade.

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You're one of the few English screen actors who command attention in

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America, command real attention which is underwritten with real money.

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And I wonder what it is over and above your capacity to act

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which singles a person out for that kind of attention.

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I don't know.

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Um... You said international stardom but I don't know what that means.

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-I'm not an international star.

-No, command attention in America.

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-Command attention...

-With that in view, I suppose...

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I don't really know what you mean, though, Robert,

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because I've only done two films in America.

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One they wanted me

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desperately for because they couldn't get anybody else.

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-I'm sure you're being...

-Well, they wanted a special type of actor,

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which had to be an actor, sort of, known in Europe, the Commonwealth,

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for that market,

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and who spoke English with an English unaccented accent

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For Liszt, you know, because they didn't think it would be

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acceptable if he came from Milwaukee.

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But they could have picked almost anyone for that, yet they pick you.

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I think what I'm really referring to is the quality of watchableness

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which allows an actor to walk into a room

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and read the telephone directory and somehow it's exciting, just that.

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It's...it's this quality that I'd be interested to ask you about.

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I'd wish you tell me what it was

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because I know exactly what you mean.

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I have the same compulsion myself when I see somebody on a screen

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or in the theatre.

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I don't know why I'm looking at them, very often.

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I suppose it's this extraordinary and ill-used

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and much overworked phrase "star quality" which

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I don't believe anybody's ever been able to find.

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I know that when I was in Hollywood, I was absolutely amazed to see

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how many of the great

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and lasting stars were in fact NOT frightfully handsome people

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or beautiful women, but had quite qualities of ordinariness.

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Maybe it's something to do with that quality of ordinariness,

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of high sophistication, if you can call it that.

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That means high simplicity, sophistication,

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or have I got that quite wrong?

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I think it's a quality of relaxedness, perhaps.

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And something to do, too, with sureness and, I suppose, sincerity.

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For a film actor, you live a rather retired and private life.

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We seldom read of you in the show columns.

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-Is this... Do you avoid publicity? Is it distasteful to you?

-No, no, no.

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I don't AVOID publicity,

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that makes it sound like something really horrid and unpleasant.

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I don't think publicity's always necessary.

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I think sometimes publicity is ugly and I think it's vulgar.

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And I think then you SHOULD avoid it.

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And I think it's wiser perhaps to leave it all alone

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than to dabble with a little of it.

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I think that to publicise your film is absolutely splendid.

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You should go to a premiere, if you have to.

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I don't like it because I don't like crowds.

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And you should go and talk about it to the press

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if they wish to see you.

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And you should speak to you on Picture Parade, as we're doing now.

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But I don't think it's of any concern to anybody but me

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whether I take my dogs for a walk on my head, in my hat,

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or in a basket or what I had for breakfast or how I go to bed.

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-You must teach your colleagues that.

-I know, that is the trouble

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because there are other people who absolutely love everybody knowing

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exactly what they do with their dogs and where they go for a walk.

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We can't all be exactly the same.

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It would be a very dull world if we were.

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I was always brought up, which sounds very pompous,

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but I can't help it, with that old saying,

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"Little boys should be seen and not heard."

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It was very deeply drilled into me as a child and indeed

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to all my brothers and sisters and I'm afraid it kind of sticks.

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I can't put it any better than that!

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Do you think that the public should...do you think there's

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anything against the public getting to know the actual man

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behind the illusion which appears on the screen?

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It's a terribly tough one to answer, you know, that one,

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because I don't agree anyway, and I'm quite alone on this,

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I think the excitement of the cinema

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and the theatre is its quality of illusion, of magic,

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of "not quite of this world".

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And I think that if you know that your favourite actor's bald,

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or that he's got spots, or he's shorter than you were,

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you know, the illusion's gone.

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But if it's a good illusion,

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it wouldn't depend on knowing the mechanics.

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I think it's a great mistake to know about the mechanics.

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And yet you know your fellow film actors very well

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and I imagine this doesn't spoil your enjoyment of the films they make.

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That's a tricky one, isn't it, really.

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I think in a way...I think in way truly it does, not destroy,

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but I think it does harm it a little, my enjoyment of their work.

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I remember with Kay Kendall, who was one of my greatest

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and dearest friends, I was never absolutely convinced that Kay...

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I was never quite satisfied, which sounds conceited and impertinent, but you understand what I mean,

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I never quite satisfied that Kay had done the best possible job in a film

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because I knew her far too well, I knew every trick, every mood.

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And I was able therefore not always to see the work that she really was doing.

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So it did kind of...familiarity did...

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kind of blunt the brilliance of her work for me a little.

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You do little stage work now

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and I think I read somewhere

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that the last three occasions you appeared in the theatre,

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you became ill and that as a consequence,

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you decided that you'd do no more stage work.

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-Is this resolution holding good?

-Yes, it is. It's a great temptation.

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I made everybody promise faithfully that if I ever looked as though

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I was moving towards a stage door, they had to shoot me.

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The thing about it really was that I'd been off the stage for far

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too long, a too long a gap.

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To be off the stage for three years and do, say, 12 pictures,

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which is what I've easily been doing, three a year,

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or nine pictures, whatever it is, my mathematics...

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It's too long a time to go suddenly straight into a play with all

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the intensity and the work and the emotion.

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You're tired before you start.

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Then you've got to go on tour and kick the play into shape,

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and it's a tremendous concentration.

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And if you ARE a bit run down at the time, you know,

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you're liable to pick up a bug and then you get this panic of,

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"Gosh, if I'm off, what'll happen?" So it's not worth it.

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I must confess, too,

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I am appalled at the length of time a play has to run.

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I think this year's run or more is absolutely appalling.

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Isn't this part of an actor's...rather the green for an actor?

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It is, but you're not talking to one of the great dedicated actors.

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It is indeed part of an actor's trade,

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but I don't think it's ever a part of an actor's trade to play one part

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without any break or any relief for over a year or more.

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I think this is absolutely insane.

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I think to do what Peter Hall is doing with Stratford,

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switching over to the Aldwych, is terribly exciting.

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The actors get a rest, they get a break in between.

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They can prepare the next production.

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And they're amused always because they're constantly being

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entertained themselves by the news of the part.

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But to stamp on, night after night, in My Fair Lady, I don't know how anybody ever does it.

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You've been successful for a long time.

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Apart from talent, has luck played a part in it as well as talent?

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Yes, I think luck plays a tremendous amount in everybody's life,

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but particularly in our life, in the movies.

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It's a sort of mixture of all the things

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but it's being in the right place at the right time,

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maybe even a silly thing is meeting the right man at the right party.

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You suddenly says, "My God, you're just what I want."

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Luck has a tremendous part of our job.

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I mean, you can plan it all ahead very carefully, say,

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"I'll do this kind of picture and then that one and various other roles,"

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but at the end of it all, you know,

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there's this awful element of luck, which still comes in.

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A few months after that interview came the release of a film

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that arguably changed Bogarde's career for ever. Victim.

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I played Bogarde's wife.

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It was directed by Basil Dearden

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and the first movie to ever use the word "homosexual".

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Many now say Victim helped change attitudes to homosexuality in Britain.

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Bogarde's part was a sympathetic gay character, a successful married

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barrister who risks his career fighting a ring of blackmailers.

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Here he talks to Barry Norman about what drove him

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to tackle such a controversial role.

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I thought there's a point, a statement you can make in the cinema

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and you might as well use the cinema to make a statement as opposed to...

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just flopping around with, you know, left profile

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for every shot and your hair permed and your teeth capped and... Oh!

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It was self-disgust, I think. I was too old, you see.

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I didn't start at 18, I started at 27.

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You've always looked very young, of course.

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Well, fortunately, that's been in the family.

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But then you were, what, about 40 playing 30-year-olds?

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I was about 40, 41.

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I was always playing 30...

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They said, "You can get away with 25,"

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which made me even feel more disgusted.

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There were always little kids writing letters saying, "We love you, we want to marry you."

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I was a sort of pop singer. Anyway, all that was beginning to change

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and I decided the wind of change was coming with this pop thing.

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When Bill Haley started to come in,

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I realised the film stars were going to go out.

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-So, at least I was absolutely right on that score.

-Yes, indeed you were.

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And I cleared off into the right kind of movies

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before the bottom fell out of popular cinema.

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Because all the fan admiration I'd had for years and years

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from little girls and teenyboppers, you call them, and things like that,

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and people like Maggie Lockwood

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and Stewart Granger had before me. They disappeared,

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they went into a sort of mist after four little boys from Liverpool,

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-called The Beatles.

-By that time...

-By that time, I'd cleared.

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Yes, because you'd make Victim by them.

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Yes, I'd made all of those films.

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And Victim, of course, was a considerable breakthrough as a film.

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It was a big breakthrough. The film is a very brave film.

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Something Basil Dearden's never been respected or awarded sufficiently for.

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When Basil died and he got that obituary, I was so ashamed,

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they didn't even bother to say he'd actually altered the course of English cinema,

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as much as Lacey did.

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Cos it was the first film, actually, to take homosexuality

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as a serious subject, wasn't it?

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It was the first film to take it as a serious subject

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and present it as a serious subject.

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To present it as a problem that was solvable and that everybody had.

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You know, it wasn't sort of like having some dreadful unknown

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disease. Lots of people have it.

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It was a reasonable thing to have.

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You can't hope to keep this out of the press.

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It's not as though you can go to court as Mr X.

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You're too well-known.

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I don't want to.

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I believe if I go into court as myself,

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I can draw attention to the fault in the existing law.

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Knowing it'll destroy you utterly.

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Yes.

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We're going to need each other very much, aren't we?

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No, no. I'm going to go through this alone.

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I don't want you here when it happens.

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I started this thing, I've hurt you terribly, I know that.

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But I can just get through it to the end

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if you're not here to face the final humiliations.

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They're going to call me filthy names.

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And my friends are going to lower their eyes and my enemies say they'd always guessed.

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I don't want you to a part of that.

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But it was particularly bold for you, I would've thought,

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because you had had this sort of following of little girls

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and then to appear in a film as a homosexual...

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They didn't mind...they didn't mind me being a homosexual at all

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because most people think that being queer means that you've got flu.

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They didn't know anything about that at all.

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What did bother them very much was... Anyway, it was beginning

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to break away, that pop thing,

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because I said the boys, the kids were coming, a new form of adoration

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was coming in through the pop singers.

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That's rock 'n' roll, that's music.

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But they DID get upset because I had grey temples.

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I was being a 45-year-old man when I was only 40.

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And that really bugged them, frankly.

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I thought, "Well, now here it comes." I've got the lines here and all the wrinkles coming,

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and the make-up going, the white temples stuck in.

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They got a bit leery cos I was too old.

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When they wrote and said, "You're older than my dad,"

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I knew that I was out.

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Was Bogarde homosexual himself?

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He always denied it.

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From the 1960s onwards, he lived with Tony Forwood,

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a man he always described as his partner and manager.

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And he insisted the relationship was platonic.

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After Victim,

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Bogarde never had a conventional leading man role again,

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which he considered a blessing.

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From that point on, he'd appear in more challenging films,

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winning Best Actor BAFTAs

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in two seminal '60s movies, The Servant and Darling.

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Here, he is discussing the change in direction in an interview from 1967.

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I never was a romantic type, you know. It was a great, great mistake.

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I was a character actor who got diverted at a time of national

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drought, just after the war, and I fitted somebody else's pants

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and played their part. That's literally how it started.

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I was lucky in having a good left profile.

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I notice at the moment I'm being shot on my right,

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which is quite the worst one.

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That doesn't matter any more but this side was very good

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and the y built all the sets at Pinewood for this profile only.

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I was like Loretta Young, nobody ever saw my right side.

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At what stage did you decide

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that you didn't want to play romantic leads any more?

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I did a film some years ago which nobody has ever seen called

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A Doctor's Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw

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with Leslie Caron and Cecil Beaton doing the costumes and

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a wonderful part and a super scriptwriter

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and a wonderful director called Asquith.

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The scriptwriter, of course, was Bernard Shaw

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and the director was Mr Asquith and it suddenly dawned on me

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that movies had something more to say than just, oh, you know,

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frolicking songs in Spain

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and all the stuff I had been doing before and funny pictures like

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the Doctors, which had great value but were not satisfying.

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They were only extensions of myself.

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I wasn't actually doing the job that I had started out to do.

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When I found that you could really speak good dialogue

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on screen and it sounded good, I decided a break had to be made.

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Where other any satisfactions from working on the Rank films?

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Oh, yes, of course there were.

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The first Doctor was one of the most satisfying things I've ever

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done, I think, because more people went to hospital after that

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because they were less frightened. I am not being sarcastic.

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Because they were less frightened of hospitals than ever before

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and people used to come both to Kenny and I, Kenny More,

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and sort of thank us rather than, you know, laugh at us.

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They were thanking us for making it easy to get

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granny into hospital or a child into hospital.

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I was recently in hospital myself for various reasons of my own and

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the child, you know, care doctor was called Dr Simon Sparrow.

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They used to stick that on the door which made the kids feel better.

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That's all gone now. In the films, I think, possibly gone too.

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Do you do much research when you're preparing a film,

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into background, the type of job a character does?

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Not if it is about people. There is no need to.

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I know, you know, seven and a half or seven years of the Army

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and 46 years of living with people, I think it taught you,

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taught me a good deal about people.

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Research, I certainly do on odd things I find.

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If it's something particular like drive a special kind of car,

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I'd certainly do that. Research on a special or specialised subject,

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certainly, without any question.

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-Do you have technical advice on set?

-Always. If it's needed, of course.

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In all the Doctors, I had a doctor on the set every day, always,

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because I never touched a thing that a doctor would touch

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unless I knew exactly how to use it.

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Because Dr Simon Sparrow in the Doctor films is the only

0:17:050:17:07

straight guy in the pictures.

0:17:070:17:09

And an audience had to absolutely believe that he was right

0:17:090:17:12

and safe and secure and good for them

0:17:120:17:15

and then all the other people, you know, could be funny around him.

0:17:150:17:18

He never made a mistake as a doctor.

0:17:180:17:20

Basically, because I always had

0:17:200:17:21

a doctor there to tell me what to do or not to do.

0:17:210:17:23

Although one doctor alarmed me

0:17:230:17:25

by taking out an appendix on the left-hand side. Still,

0:17:250:17:27

they do do that, I believe.

0:17:270:17:29

A year after that interview, Bogarde moved with Tony Forwood abroad

0:17:300:17:35

to France and there began a new phase in his career.

0:17:350:17:40

With acclaimed performances and artistic films like Visconti's

0:17:400:17:43

Death In Venice seeing him become a major star of European cinema.

0:17:430:17:48

Bogarde always put his success down to the fact that

0:17:500:17:52

he was continuously pushing himself.

0:17:520:17:55

He never lost the feeling that there was more to be learned about acting,

0:17:550:17:59

as he told the programme Omnibus.

0:17:590:18:02

One day, we were changing magazines and I looked up

0:18:020:18:05

and there was the camera operator Bob Thompson, leaning over

0:18:050:18:10

the top of the camera and he was quite short and he had glasses

0:18:100:18:13

and he was very experienced and he was very nice.

0:18:130:18:18

And I was just standing waiting and I said, "Hi, Bob.

0:18:180:18:22

"You know, you look very worried. What are you thinking about?"

0:18:220:18:26

He said, "Well, I'm just thinking

0:18:270:18:31

"I don't know how the hell you stuck."

0:18:310:18:33

"Oh," I thought, "That's not quite what I meant."

0:18:350:18:38

So I said, "Why?" he said, "Well, you don't know a bloody

0:18:380:18:40

"thing about this business, do you?" And I had been in it for five years.

0:18:400:18:44

So I said, "Well, what don't I know?"

0:18:460:18:48

He said, "It'd take too long to tell you."

0:18:480:18:50

And I said, "Will you tell me?"

0:18:500:18:52

And so Bob Thompson told me.

0:18:520:18:56

He told me how the film went through the gate.

0:18:560:18:58

He told me how the boom went. He told me where the lights were.

0:18:580:19:02

He told me about a 2K, an inky-dink.

0:19:020:19:04

He told me every damn thing I had to know about the movies.

0:19:040:19:08

My own technicians, mine, my mates,

0:19:080:19:13

not my directors cos they didn't know.

0:19:130:19:16

I never find an English director that did.

0:19:160:19:19

You are an actor who, I think you have said,

0:19:200:19:23

-doesn't require an audience in the strict sense.

-Oh, no, God forbid.

0:19:230:19:27

That in a way, cinema is a much more preferable medium for you.

0:19:270:19:31

Well, cinema is much more exciting because,

0:19:310:19:34

as I've said before, it is something you are making technically

0:19:340:19:36

together and the thing I have emphasised very

0:19:360:19:40

strongly in my last book, as you know,

0:19:400:19:42

is that most actors do not realise that that little beast

0:19:420:19:45

and that little beast photograph your mind.

0:19:450:19:49

And if there is nothing in your mind at the time that that is

0:19:490:19:51

working or that is working then no-one is at home

0:19:510:19:54

and you can just as well play pussy, it doesn't matter.

0:19:540:19:58

How do you mean photograph your mind?

0:20:000:20:02

It photographs thought.

0:20:020:20:03

-Thought.

-The camera is capable of photographing thought.

0:20:030:20:06

The best example of all, apart from me -

0:20:060:20:09

cos I've suddenly discovered that I do have some kind of thought,

0:20:090:20:12

in the end, you know - is Marilyn,

0:20:120:20:15

who had no thought whatsoever in her mind but she had, way down there

0:20:150:20:19

at the bottom, Miss Monroe was quite... Well, I mean,

0:20:190:20:23

she has become the legend of the century almost.

0:20:230:20:27

And the camera found what she was doing and what she was thinking.

0:20:270:20:31

Watching her on the floor, you would inch yourself away with misery

0:20:310:20:34

and grief because you thought, "Crikey, what is she doing?

0:20:340:20:37

"She's doing nothing and she's dreadful.

0:20:370:20:39

"She is plain and she's got spots and where's the magic?"

0:20:390:20:43

And the magic was there next day on film.

0:20:430:20:46

-And you just drained blood when you saw it.

-So it is internal.

0:20:460:20:49

It's an internal thing

0:20:490:20:51

and this is the essence of concentration, of course.

0:20:510:20:54

Without concentration, without the absolute tightness

0:20:540:20:57

of concentration here in your head, nothing works on the screen.

0:20:570:21:02

You can walk through a part and nearly everybody I ever see does.

0:21:020:21:05

Sometimes there is a magical moment where you find some actor

0:21:050:21:08

who is not walking through and the camera picks him.

0:21:080:21:11

But that's capricious and so is that one.

0:21:110:21:14

They're both capricious, the cameras.

0:21:140:21:15

Capricious cos they hate you.

0:21:150:21:17

You can do your nut and they don't want to record it

0:21:170:21:21

but if you can establish a rapport, a love affair between yourself

0:21:210:21:24

and the lens - and I'm flattering myself perhaps that I do,

0:21:240:21:27

I don't know, maybe I don't -

0:21:270:21:29

they will do everything in their power to help you.

0:21:290:21:32

But you have got to be thinking and you have got to know what

0:21:320:21:36

you're thinking about and if you go to pieces, forget it.

0:21:360:21:39

It doesn't work.

0:21:390:21:41

The earlier films, there were some that were accomplished.

0:21:410:21:46

-You're famous for having shot Jack Warner.

-Oh, yes, The Blue Lamp.

0:21:460:21:52

And then you move to a very successful series of films,

0:21:520:21:57

which were the Doctor films.

0:21:570:21:59

When you're working in what many people might consider unremarkable

0:21:590:22:04

cinema, were you striving to do your best within those circumstances

0:22:040:22:10

or were you not all that conscious that it was unremarkable cinema?

0:22:100:22:13

Look here, let's get one thing absolutely straight.

0:22:130:22:17

All I have ever been in the cinema or in the theatre or in my books

0:22:170:22:22

is an entertainer. Nothing more and nothing less. That's all I am.

0:22:220:22:28

And anything I do, I do to the depths of my gut.

0:22:290:22:33

I would never, as I said, cheat anyone.

0:22:340:22:37

I never considered those films as crappy or stupid

0:22:370:22:39

or whatever they were.

0:22:390:22:40

They were there to pleasure people.

0:22:410:22:44

There were there to pleasure people who came to see us.

0:22:440:22:46

You don't betray that faith.

0:22:460:22:48

You don't betray people that have staggered miles in a snowstorm

0:22:480:22:52

or something to get to the movie to see you.

0:22:520:22:55

You do everything you can.

0:22:550:22:56

And people met and married in movies that I made.

0:22:560:23:02

They dated. A whole world.

0:23:020:23:04

I had three, four generations of people that

0:23:040:23:07

I am directly responsible to.

0:23:070:23:10

I couldn't possibly say that I did anything more than do the best,

0:23:100:23:16

you know, the best thing I could do,

0:23:160:23:18

the highest point of my ability and never once looked down on it.

0:23:180:23:23

I never. I couldn't do. And I love the cinema too much anyway.

0:23:230:23:27

That was another thing. It was growing and growing and growing.

0:23:270:23:30

When I found that a crew was working and that was working and that

0:23:300:23:33

was working and how it worked and this was working, the boom.

0:23:330:23:37

Then gradually all these wonderful things came in

0:23:370:23:40

and I was being taken in again, into a force, like I had

0:23:400:23:45

been in the Army, and producing something at the end of it.

0:23:450:23:50

But I was very, very proud of those films.

0:23:500:23:52

I mean, some of them were rubbish, I admit,

0:23:520:23:54

but people like rubbish, you know.

0:23:540:23:56

People don't want always to be educated.

0:23:560:23:59

Acting success and European stardom wasn't enough for Bogarde.

0:23:590:24:04

The '70s saw him also branch out into a new career as a writer.

0:24:040:24:09

By 1983, three volumes of memoirs and two novels had all earned

0:24:090:24:14

rave reviews and become international bestsellers.

0:24:140:24:17

But how he started writing was a story in itself as he explains

0:24:170:24:22

here to interview Tony Bilbow.

0:24:220:24:24

One day I got a fan letter, so-called,

0:24:240:24:26

from a woman in America who had been sitting under

0:24:260:24:28

a hairdryer in her hairdressers in a small town in America and she

0:24:280:24:34

had read a magazine to pass the time which she found rather distasteful.

0:24:340:24:38

It was a women's magazine. And it was an English one and rather cheap.

0:24:380:24:42

But in it, to her astonishment,

0:24:420:24:45

she saw a picture of a house that once had belonged to her.

0:24:450:24:48

This is a hell of a long preamble, you'll have to excuse me for that.

0:24:480:24:51

And in front of the house, grinning like an idiot, was I, myself, there.

0:24:510:24:56

And she didn't know who I was cos she never went to the movies,

0:24:560:24:59

she wasn't that kind of person,

0:24:590:25:01

but she didn't recognise the house and she saw pictures inside.

0:25:010:25:04

So she read the rather sorry little article about me

0:25:040:25:08

and realised I was an actor or something

0:25:080:25:10

and lived in England and lived in this house which

0:25:100:25:13

she has lived in for ten years,

0:25:130:25:15

which she had found with her husband in 1929 and lived there

0:25:150:25:19

until 1939 when the war broke out and they had to go back to America.

0:25:190:25:24

So, to cut a long story short, she wrote me a letter.

0:25:240:25:27

Very pathetic and very polite, very tiny, very neat, no great deal.

0:25:270:25:32

And sent, inside, a very small, brown sepia picture of the house

0:25:320:25:36

as it had been in 1929, covered in brambles and nettles.

0:25:360:25:40

And she wrote and simply said,

0:25:410:25:45

"It's a great impertinence to write to you.

0:25:450:25:47

"I don't know who you are, what you do, but I do know the house.

0:25:470:25:50

"Has it changed very much?" And that was all.

0:25:500:25:53

And I don't know why, I never reply to letters because it's

0:25:530:25:58

impossible anyway, there isn't time and I can't deal with so much.

0:25:580:26:02

But I did write to her. I wrote her back.

0:26:020:26:05

We wrote to each other for the next five years.

0:26:050:26:09

I think I'm right, yeah, next five years.

0:26:110:26:14

She wrote in the end, towards the end,

0:26:140:26:17

every single day of her life, a letter to me.

0:26:170:26:20

On onion skin, which if you know what that is,

0:26:200:26:23

it's that very, very light airmail paper.

0:26:230:26:25

I wrote three or four times a week

0:26:250:26:29

but when I began to put her all together

0:26:290:26:32

and realised she was dying, I wrote a postcard,

0:26:320:26:36

at least a postcard, every single day until 1975

0:26:360:26:42

when she died.

0:26:420:26:44

I never saw her. We never spoke. I have no idea what age she was.

0:26:450:26:51

But she was determined that I should write.

0:26:520:26:54

All I did glean, amongst many things,

0:26:540:26:57

was that she was the head librarian -

0:26:570:27:00

as far as I can put this together, I could be inaccurate here -

0:27:000:27:03

at a very important university in America

0:27:030:27:07

and that she knew a great deal about literature and about writing

0:27:070:27:11

and she had seen, somewhere in what I wrote in all the years of junk

0:27:110:27:16

I sent her, which is only really written to try

0:27:160:27:18

and to keep her alive - she lived alone, she was entirely alone -

0:27:180:27:24

to keep her alive and keep her going

0:27:240:27:25

and give her strength, she thought that I could write.

0:27:250:27:29

Or should be forced to.

0:27:290:27:31

So would it be fair to say that if it hadn't been for her

0:27:310:27:34

you would never have written? Not professionally.

0:27:340:27:36

In the final analysis, that is true, yes.

0:27:360:27:39

Quite extraordinary!

0:27:390:27:41

Writing occupied most of Bogarde's time during the '80s,

0:27:410:27:46

but in 1991, he was back with a new film.

0:27:460:27:49

A French movie called Daddy Nostalgie,

0:27:490:27:52

directed by Bertrand Tavernier.

0:27:520:27:55

It coincided with Bogarde turning 70 -

0:27:550:27:58

a significant enough event to merit another encounter with Barry Norman.

0:27:580:28:03

Your first film in 12 years. Why? Why such a long time away?

0:28:040:28:08

Well, I had really got out of the habit of doing it.

0:28:100:28:13

I haven't... Although I am often accused of, I haven't retired,

0:28:130:28:17

I just retreated. It's... I don't terribly enjoy making movies.

0:28:170:28:23

I never have.

0:28:230:28:25

This coming from a man who has made about 65 is a little startling.

0:28:250:28:27

Yeah, I know, well, there it is.

0:28:270:28:29

I mean, now that you get to a certain age, it's a hassle.

0:28:290:28:32

It's a drag, you know.

0:28:320:28:33

And then I found I could write and people want my books so it's easy to

0:28:330:28:36

sit on my butt on my farm and write and do

0:28:360:28:41

chores of the day on the land and it was easier and it was pleasanter.

0:28:410:28:45

I had done one film, which I thought was a miracle film with Fassbinder

0:28:450:28:51

called Despair, I think in '76. You'll have to put me right.

0:28:510:28:55

I don't remember. It was about '76.

0:28:550:28:58

And we made it in East Germany,

0:28:580:28:59

on the edge of East Germany with the wall and all that. It was

0:28:590:29:02

an extraordinary experience, a wonderful and extraordinary one.

0:29:020:29:05

We were picked for Cannes but the film was finished about,

0:29:050:29:10

oh, I don't know, seven months before Cannes and instead of...

0:29:100:29:14

I had seen the rough cut and done the dubbing in Paris

0:29:140:29:17

and instead of just leaving it as it was,

0:29:170:29:22

Rainer Fassbinder got bored with it and cut it to shreds over the weeks.

0:29:220:29:27

And when I went to Cannes to see the damn film,

0:29:270:29:30

Michael Ballhaus, who now works for Martin Scorsese

0:29:300:29:33

in New York, Michael came up and said, "Don't come near the movie.

0:29:330:29:38

"Don't see it."

0:29:380:29:39

Tears were pouring out and he said, "He's absolutely ruined it."

0:29:390:29:43

So I went to see the movie at Cannes cos I had to, you know, do

0:29:430:29:46

my duty and I didn't recognise it, I didn't know what the film was about.

0:29:460:29:50

Totally devastated. So I thought after that,

0:29:500:29:53

"That's it. I leave."

0:29:530:29:55

And I left for 12 years.

0:29:550:29:57

So why, what did Bertrand Tavernier do?

0:29:570:30:00

Was it simply because it was Bertrand Tavernier

0:30:000:30:02

-that you came back?

-Yeah, yeah.

0:30:020:30:04

I had seen in nearly all the work that Bertrand had done and he is...

0:30:040:30:08

I always say if I am asked and I am saying this to you -

0:30:080:30:11

well, you haven't asked me but I'm telling you - Visconti is,

0:30:110:30:15

as far as I am concerned, the emperor of the cinema.

0:30:150:30:19

Losey is the king.

0:30:190:30:21

But Bertrand is the genius and he is a genius only

0:30:220:30:26

because he absolutely knows every inch of cinema, every angle,

0:30:260:30:32

every technical trick but he also knows about people

0:30:320:30:36

and that is terribly rare.

0:30:360:30:39

I was brought up in the cinema when the director would say,

0:30:390:30:41

"Do let's hurry, darling. A little pink gin in the bar."

0:30:410:30:45

And that was the way we made movies.

0:30:450:30:47

To find someone who actually really wants to scoop the yolk

0:30:470:30:52

out of your egg and savour it, is fairly exciting.

0:30:520:30:57

So what happened? Did you put a lot into the script?

0:30:570:31:00

Was there a lot of rewriting going on?

0:31:000:31:02

Because I know you went happy with this script even

0:31:020:31:04

when you agreed to do it with Tavernier, were you?

0:31:040:31:06

Well, there was a rewrite which I got and Bertrand

0:31:060:31:11

came to London to see me and I said I'd do it

0:31:110:31:14

because he was doing it

0:31:140:31:16

and there was a rewrite, which was still a bit cutesy-pie.

0:31:160:31:19

There was an awful lot of Pussykins and Daddykins.

0:31:190:31:21

I'm not a Daddykins type, you know. And neither is he.

0:31:210:31:26

And we had both been through some fairly grown-up experiences

0:31:260:31:30

in our life, like death and life, and all those things,

0:31:300:31:33

and he just was experiencing it through the death of his father

0:31:330:31:36

who was dying at that point, and we kind of put it in turn around.

0:31:360:31:42

I must be very careful what I say here because he let me

0:31:420:31:48

alter my stuff and my conception of who I was,

0:31:480:31:53

the daddy I was, and

0:31:530:31:56

he assisted me greatly and we wrote a lot of it together.

0:31:560:32:00

You know, I would like to take a plane

0:32:020:32:05

and go somewhere like Hong Kong, Singapore.

0:32:050:32:08

See them for the last time.

0:32:080:32:11

More than Mexico?

0:32:110:32:12

The light in the East is...

0:32:130:32:15

It's the colours...

0:32:180:32:20

It doesn't matter.

0:32:210:32:22

These legs.

0:32:240:32:27

I know.

0:32:270:32:28

I didn't want to get old.

0:32:300:32:32

'Playing a man who is dying and you had,'

0:32:320:32:34

I mean, you had a stroke which, thank God, you appear to have

0:32:340:32:37

recovered from fully about, what, about four years ago?

0:32:370:32:39

That must have been an experience you could have used, surely, was it?

0:32:390:32:42

The memory of that, you used

0:32:420:32:44

in playing the part or do you not believe in that kind of thing?

0:32:440:32:47

Well, I mean, you know, Barry, come on now.

0:32:470:32:50

Every act is... You know, even having a terrible row or

0:32:500:32:54

bursting into floods of tears or whatever.

0:32:540:32:55

If there is a mirror near, you look and say,

0:32:550:32:57

"Oh, that's what I look like when I do that." Of course you do.

0:32:570:33:00

You squirrel everything away for some use,

0:33:000:33:03

some later projection of whatever you're doing.

0:33:030:33:06

But I have been doing work classes recently in London

0:33:060:33:11

and a lot of the actors, young actors,

0:33:110:33:15

they're all between 18 and 25,

0:33:150:33:18

want to know why I so mistrust the method.

0:33:180:33:23

And my point is I don't see any point in being

0:33:230:33:25

shoved into a dark room for three months

0:33:250:33:27

and being told you have got to come out as a tin of condensed milk.

0:33:270:33:31

Because that is not acting, it's not screen technique,

0:33:310:33:34

it's not screen acting.

0:33:340:33:36

Most people do a sort of cornflake packet performance

0:33:360:33:41

and what I find so exciting with working with people like Tavernier

0:33:410:33:44

and in Europe... I haven't made a movie in England since '66.

0:33:440:33:47

-I know that.

-And then they were always foreign companies.

0:33:470:33:50

Paramount or MGM.

0:33:500:33:53

But they don't ask you to do the cover. They want to know...

0:33:530:33:56

It's like an onion.

0:33:560:33:58

They want to know...peel the skin off bit by bit and come

0:33:580:34:01

right down to the little, tiny bit in the middle

0:34:010:34:04

which is the heart of it.

0:34:040:34:06

And so in Daddy Nostalgie, giving Daddy a different, bad-tempered,

0:34:060:34:14

very selfish, rather like a car salesman with the matching

0:34:140:34:17

handkerchief and tie, he is not quite right, he's like a politician.

0:34:170:34:21

But those things I found terrifically exciting to make him...

0:34:210:34:25

Because, you know, after all, he is married to a woman who no

0:34:250:34:28

longer speaks her language to him or his. So they're absolutely lost.

0:34:280:34:33

And there is nothing to talk about. He's retired, he's dying

0:34:330:34:37

and they are living in this dreadful little town in the south of France

0:34:370:34:40

and all she has got is her bridge

0:34:400:34:42

and all he's go is listening to her playing bridge.

0:34:420:34:44

You know, I mean, it could be very gloomy.

0:34:440:34:47

I don't think it is, because a nerve is touched.

0:34:470:34:50

Indeed. Indeed there is. Another nerve that perhaps you touched -

0:34:500:34:53

I don't know whether this was inadvertent

0:34:530:34:55

but there is a scene in which you talk about the xenophobic

0:34:550:34:58

middle-class Britain which your character left.

0:34:580:35:01

I just wondered if that came from the heart.

0:35:010:35:05

Yes. It came from me anyway.

0:35:050:35:08

Merci, mademoiselle.

0:35:080:35:10

And, you know, when I think

0:35:100:35:13

that I could have ended up

0:35:130:35:16

like those thousands of retired businessmen who live

0:35:160:35:18

in those dreary little bungalows outside Brighton

0:35:180:35:21

or Budleigh Salterton,

0:35:210:35:23

pottering about in their rain-drenched, gnome-ridden gardens,

0:35:230:35:29

sipping their sherry or their Horlicks,

0:35:290:35:33

waiting for the Nine O'Clock News on television,

0:35:330:35:37

loathing all bloody foreigners,

0:35:370:35:41

hating and mistrusting anything beyond their sceptred isle,

0:35:410:35:45

when I think of that, it makes me really ill.

0:35:450:35:48

You have left xenophobic middle-class Britain for, oh,

0:35:480:35:50

the best part of 20 years. Why did you do that?

0:35:500:35:54

Oh, gosh. Why did I do it?

0:35:540:35:56

Well, there was no reason to stay.

0:35:560:35:58

I mean, the last thing I did here, as I have said

0:35:580:36:00

so many times before, the last thing I was asked to do here was

0:36:000:36:04

a voice-over for television for the Forestry Commission.

0:36:040:36:10

-Really?

-About felling pine trees in the north of Scotland.

0:36:100:36:15

I mean, well, if it has come to that...

0:36:150:36:18

And I have never been asked to come back.

0:36:180:36:20

Well, that's not quite true. David Puttnam asked me to come back.

0:36:200:36:23

But, I mean, nobody has asked me to work here.

0:36:230:36:25

I mean, I think I'd run my limit, Barry.

0:36:250:36:27

You know, I was in the movies... I started in '47

0:36:270:36:30

above the title, right?

0:36:300:36:32

I think people had got awfully used to me

0:36:340:36:36

and then a new group came in in the beginning of the '60s

0:36:360:36:40

and they didn't want my kind of work or indeed my kind of name.

0:36:400:36:45

They wanted the new boys, you know, the Terence Stamps,

0:36:450:36:48

the Albert Finneys, the Tom Courtenays, and they got them.

0:36:480:36:52

And quite rightly too.

0:36:520:36:53

But we were pushed. We were out. And I realised that in time.

0:36:540:36:59

The Beatles were making a new sound.

0:36:590:37:02

The movies were taking... The movies were becoming gritty and grainy

0:37:020:37:05

and a lot of people were not growing up with that fact in this country

0:37:050:37:08

but they were in the Europe and they had always been that way.

0:37:080:37:11

That's when I went back to Europe.

0:37:110:37:13

From a professional point of view,

0:37:130:37:15

that was the best thing that could have happened to you.

0:37:150:37:17

Oh, gosh, the last 22 years of my life were the greatest ever.

0:37:170:37:21

Critically. I mean, not critically but from the point of view of film.

0:37:210:37:25

Oh, yeah, sure.

0:37:250:37:26

Because the curious thing now is that you're much more, I think,

0:37:260:37:30

"revered" is the word in Europe as an actor than you are in this country.

0:37:300:37:33

Well, revered is a very strong word. I'm better-known, yes.

0:37:340:37:38

Yes, of course, I'm a big fish in a very large pond in Europe.

0:37:380:37:44

I am a European player.

0:37:440:37:46

But do you realise there is something extraordinary?

0:37:460:37:49

I only realised this coming to see you today that in all the time

0:37:490:37:52

I have been working abroad, I have only once played an Englishman.

0:37:520:37:57

-That's right.

-They have all been Germans.

-Yes.

0:37:570:37:59

-Yes, you are good as a German.

-I'm very good as a German.

0:37:590:38:03

Born in the wrong country.

0:38:030:38:04

I'll tell you what though, for all that you're saying,

0:38:040:38:07

you are a marvellous survivor, aren't you?

0:38:070:38:10

I mean, 44 years now with the name above the title.

0:38:100:38:14

The name is still above the title.

0:38:140:38:15

Oh, yes, it won't come down either.

0:38:150:38:17

-You insist on that, don't you?

-Yeah.

-Why?

0:38:170:38:20

Because I still believe one of the earliest things I was ever told

0:38:200:38:23

when I first joined the business and 47 was,

0:38:230:38:25

"You realise what's happened to you, don't you?"

0:38:250:38:28

This was the Rank Organisation.

0:38:280:38:29

"You are unknown and you're going to carry a movie.

0:38:290:38:32

"Do you understand what that means?"

0:38:320:38:34

Now, I didn't understand what it meant but I learned.

0:38:340:38:37

Sure as hell, I learned.

0:38:370:38:39

And I thought, "Right, if it's going to cost this to carry a movie,

0:38:390:38:42

"I am going to do it all for the rest of my life." And I have.

0:38:420:38:45

And I am not going under the title.

0:38:450:38:47

That's why I don't do those cameo parts.

0:38:470:38:49

I mean, I'd rather write a book or review a book for a newspaper

0:38:490:38:53

or whatever but I won't go underneath. I still carry a movie.

0:38:530:38:56

And I still do.

0:38:560:38:58

Daddy Nostalgie in Italy, for example,

0:38:580:39:00

-is one of the biggest box office hits ever known there.

-Is it really?

0:39:000:39:04

Yeah, it has made milliards. Not millions but milliards of lire.

0:39:040:39:08

-Why? I don't know why.

-That's the question I was going to ask.

0:39:100:39:13

I mean, it's marvellous that, you know,

0:39:130:39:15

44 years ago you started as a star and here you are, aged 70 -

0:39:150:39:18

and many happy returns for the great day - still a star.

0:39:180:39:22

How have you managed that?

0:39:220:39:24

I think it...

0:39:240:39:27

I don't know, really.

0:39:270:39:28

Learning my trade, being taught and being very selective

0:39:280:39:33

and choosing the right people to teach me and never being greedy

0:39:330:39:36

because I never earned what we call Caine-Connery money at all.

0:39:360:39:40

I don't mean to denigrate either of those gentlemen,

0:39:400:39:42

I just did not earn that kind of money.

0:39:420:39:44

The most money I ever made in my life was on Despair.

0:39:440:39:47

I got 200,000 for that.

0:39:470:39:49

That was the biggest sum of money I ever earned in one lump.

0:39:490:39:54

I didn't want more.

0:39:560:39:57

As long as I had a small portfolio and, you know,

0:39:570:40:00

I kept my money in an Oxo tin. It practically was that.

0:40:000:40:03

That suited me very well but I would rather do the job well

0:40:030:40:07

and have a decent job to do.

0:40:070:40:08

I'm not interested in doing three-day bits in, you know,

0:40:080:40:11

a warehouse at Wapping in a cutaway coat and handmade buttons.

0:40:110:40:17

Who cares?

0:40:170:40:18

Is it literally really true that you haven't been offered anything

0:40:180:40:21

at all or anything worthwhile in the cinema in this country?

0:40:210:40:24

No, not entirely true.

0:40:240:40:26

David Puttnam, who I respect greatly, did ask me

0:40:280:40:31

to do a film called The Mission but I really couldn't get away

0:40:310:40:34

and I thought I was really much too old

0:40:340:40:36

to go clambering up and down waterfalls.

0:40:360:40:38

I was in my mid-60s.

0:40:380:40:40

Which role was that?

0:40:400:40:41

Well, it was later played by a younger man.

0:40:410:40:44

And... But, yes, indeed, David did ask. But no, no, I am not asked.

0:40:440:40:50

-Does that make you feel at all bitter?

-No, no, not at all.

0:40:510:40:54

Because I don't want to work here.

0:40:540:40:57

John Boorman, indeed, he's another one, he has asked me to work here.

0:40:580:41:02

But I am a European and the way we work in Europe is totally

0:41:020:41:08

different to the way we work here.

0:41:080:41:10

Why, then, did you come back to Britain?

0:41:100:41:12

I came back because I was forced to come back through

0:41:130:41:16

ill health of my partner and manager who was living out there.

0:41:160:41:20

He had terminal cancer and when we knew that it was terminal

0:41:200:41:23

he wanted to die with his family

0:41:230:41:26

and that meant his immediate family and his son and his grandson

0:41:260:41:31

so we came back and I just hadn't...

0:41:310:41:34

Then I had a stroke after I had packed up.

0:41:340:41:37

You know, packing up something I thought I would live in

0:41:370:41:39

for the rest of my life in three weeks was quite difficult.

0:41:390:41:42

-Do you feel you belong here now?

-No.

0:41:420:41:45

-Does that mean that you are unhappy?

-No, no, I'm not at all unhappy.

0:41:450:41:49

I mean, I'm back living in Chelsea, which is where I started.

0:41:490:41:53

I'm full circle.

0:41:530:41:54

Cos I started there at 16 at art school in Manresa Road

0:41:540:41:58

so I know everywhere there.

0:41:580:42:00

My father was a student there, my mother was a student there too.

0:42:000:42:03

You know, I'm back where I was.

0:42:030:42:06

I remember Peter Jones being billed.

0:42:060:42:08

That does go back a few years.

0:42:080:42:10

Yes, it goes back a few years.

0:42:100:42:11

I saw Judy Garland for the first time in my life at what was

0:42:110:42:14

-then called the Royal Court Cinema.

-Oh, yes.

0:42:140:42:17

But I'm all right but, I mean, every morning I wake up thinking,

0:42:170:42:20

"Well, you're still here.

0:42:200:42:22

"That means that A) you're alive and B) here you are."

0:42:220:42:28

In the end, Daddy Nostalgie was his final film.

0:42:280:42:33

In 1992 he became Sir Dirk Bogarde,

0:42:330:42:36

knighted for services to acting.

0:42:360:42:39

And in 1999, at the age of 78,

0:42:390:42:41

he died in London from a heart attack.

0:42:410:42:44

Amongst the tributes was one describing him as

0:42:450:42:48

"Britain's first home-grown movie star.

0:42:480:42:52

"They don't make them like that any more."

0:42:540:42:56

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0:43:020:43:06

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