Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In praise of: Alastair Sim

Born this day in 1900 Alastair Sim (born in Edinburgh) is my favourite actor, even more so than Terry-Thomas (born in Finchley).  And here they are both with Ian Carmichael (born in Hull), and the by-golly luminous Janette Scott (born in Morecambe), daughter of Thora Hird (also born in Morecambe), in the closing three minutes of my favourite film, School for Scoundrels. Those “born ins” will mean something to English readers: what is striking is how clearly, despite their disparate native accents, they enunciate. Talk about crisp.

The film was based on the very funny books by Stephen PotterGamesmanship: the art of winning games without actually cheating, Lifemanship and One-Upmanship. (His Anti-Woo is pretty good too.)  Sim plays Potter and is fantastically insincere throughout. In this closing scene he does wonderful business in the background lighting a cigarette. I can’t find online the critical praise for his “expressive teeth” but here you see his expressive eyes as he says, despairingly,  “No, not sincerity!” My hero.


Craig Ranapia said...

While I have a sneaking fondness for Rupert Everett's disturbing resemblance to Camilla Parker-Bowles-Mountbatten-Windsor , when it comes to sociopathic headmistresses accept no substitutes. Sims is the ONLY Miss Fritton in my cankered heart.

Stephen Stratford said...

He was peerless in every role. There are photos of him as a young man that are eerily like photos of CK Stead as a young man. Karl doesn't have the expressive teeth, but otherwise I wonder if they were ever seen in the same room.