End Credits #61: Cinema's 2017 Lost Treasures Alec McCowen, John Gay, Robert Ellis Miller, Emmanuelle Riva, Barbara Hale, Mike Conners
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2017 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
Britain's noted stage and screen thespian, the remarkably talented Alec McCowen, has died at age 91. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, appearing in Laurence Olivier's simultaneous productions of Shakespeare's Anthony & Cleopatra and Shaw's Caesar & Cleopatra at the 1951 Festival of Britain and transferred with the productions to New York that same year. His film debut came in the U.K.'s 1953 production of The Cruel Sea and he made subsequent appearances in many of his country's more distinguished cinematic fare such as Joseph Losey's Time Without Pity (1957), William Fairchild's The Silent Enemy (1958), Roy Ward Baker's A Night to Remember (1958), and Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). Even more notably McCowan played Chief Inspector Oxford in Alfred Hitchcock's return to form, 1972's Frenzy and released that same year, subsequently co-starred alongside Maggie Smith in George Cukor's Travels with My Aunt. He also played Major Trumbo in Peter Hyams' Hanover Street (1979), 'Q' (Algy) to Sean Connery's return to the role of James Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983), the Acting High Commissioner in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom (1987), the Bishop of Ely in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989), Sillerton Jackson in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993) and his last film role in the same director's The Gangs of New York as Reverend Raleigh. Although he also appeared in other films, TV movies and various TV series such as 1959's Love and Mr. Lewisham and Mr. Palfrey of Westminster (1984 - 1985), McCowen's true passion was the stage where he truly excelled to great acclaim and prominence. Alec McCowen (May 26, 1925 - February 6, 2017) R.I.P.
Eminent screenwriter John Gay has died at age 92. He began his career in television, writing for Lux Video Theatre (1952 and 1953), Goodyear Playhouse (1956), and Kraft Theatre (1956) amongst others, before adapting the skilled screenplay to his first feature film, Run Silent Run Deep (1958). He went on to co-write an adaptation of Seperate Tables (1958), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962), and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). He also wrote the screenplay adaptations of The Hallelujah Trail (1965), No Way to Treat a Lady (1968, from William Goldman's novel), Soldier Blue (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1970, from the novel by Ken Kesey), and Hennessy (1975, from an original story by Richard Johnson). Gay wrote the original screenplay for the sensational TV movie Kill Me If You Can (1977, based on death row inmate Caryl Chessman starring Alan Alda), and adapted James P. O'Donnell's book The Bunker (1981, a TV movie starring Anthony Hopkins about Adolf Hitler's last days) amongst other TV movies and films. John Gay (April 1, 1924 - February 4, 2017) R.I.P.
The accomplished American director Robert Ellis Miller has sadly passed away at age 84. After having worked in television since the late 1950s, which included the distinguished season 3, episode 37 of The Twilight Zone entitled 'The Changing of the Guard', Miller made his feature film debut directing the comedy Any Wednesday (1966) based upon the play by Muriel Resnick and starring Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, and Dean Jones. A couple of years later he directed a poignantly true film translation of Carson McCullers' novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, perhaps his most remarkable and emotionally consuming work, which garnered two Academy Award nominations: Alan Arkin for Best Actor and Sondra Locke for Best Supporting Actress. Miller went on to direct, amongst others, the insightful Reuben, Reuben (1983) assisting star Tom Conti in receiving a Best Actor Oscar nomination and 1991's gentle comedy Bed & Breakfast with additional stand-out performances by Roger Moore, Talia Shire and Colleen Dewhurst. Robert Ellis Miller (July 18, 1932 - January 27, 2017) R.I.P.
The iconic and luminous French actress Emmanuelle Riva best known for her shatteringly authentic starring role in Alain Resnais' landmark film Hiroshima mon amour (1959), and her Oscar-nominated performance in Michael Haneke's acclaimed Amour (2012), has mournfully passed away at age 89. She also played the title role in Georges Franju's 'Thérèse Desqueyroux' (1962), and starred or co-starred in other acclaimed films such as Gillo Pontecorvo's Kapò (1960), Antonio Pietrangeli's Adua and Friends a.k.a. Hungry for Love (1960), Jean-Pierre Melville's Léon Morin, Priest (1961), Franju's Thomas the Impostor (1965), Philippe Garrel's Liberté, la nuit (1984), Jean Delannoy's The Passion of Bernadette (1989) and Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue (1993). More of her recent films include Julie Delpy's Skylab (2011) and Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon's Lost in Paris (2016). Emmanuelle Riva (February 24, 1927 - January 27, 2017) R.I.P.
Actress Barbara Hale, best known for her Emmy-winning role as legal secretary Della Street on TV's Perry Mason as well as dozens of 'Perry Mason' TV movies has passed away at age 94. She was a leading lady in films of the 1940s and '50s, perhaps most notably in the 1949 film noir hits The Window and The Clay Pigeon, the latter of which she co-starred with her husband Bill Williams. Hale made her credited screen debut in the musical Higher and Higher (1943) and in the following year appeared in two of the Falcon detective films starring Tom Conway: The Falcon Out West and The Falcon in Hollywood. She starred In a number of westerns, opposite Robert Mitchum in West of the Pecos (1945), The Lone Hand (1953), and The Oklahoman (1957) both with Joel McCrea, Bud Boetticher's Seminole (1953) with Rock Hudson, and 7th Calvary (1956) with Randolph Scott. She also co-starred opposite James Stewart in the comedy The Jackpot (1950) and James Cagney in Raoul Walsh's A Lion Is in the Streets (1953). Other notable film credits include Joseph Losey's anti-war parable The Boy with Green Hair (1948), Henry Levin's Jolson Sings Again (1949), the title role in Phil Karlson's Lorna Doone (1951), and Rudolph Maté's historical adventure The Far Horizons (1955). Additionally, Hale had distinctive supporting roles in Airport (1970), the cult sci-fi horror feature The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and the coming-of-age surfing drama Big Wednesday (1978). Barbara Hale (April 18, 1922 - January 26, 2017) R.I.P.
The resilient and debonair actor Mike Connors best known for playing private detective Joe Mannix in the CBS series Mannix (1967 - 1975) has died at age 91. He made numerous other TV appearances as well in, for example, 1958's Studio 57, Tightrope (1959 - 1960), Today's F.B.I. (1981 - 1982), and the mini-series War and Remembrance (1988 - 1989). His screen debut (as Touch Conners) began in David Miller's film noir Sudden Fear (1952), and followed with roles in William A. Wellman's Island in the Sky (1953), Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956), Edward Dmytryk's Where Love Has Gone (1964), David Swift's Good Neighbor Sam (1964), and two for Gordon Douglas, Harlow (1965) and Stagecoach (1966). He also made several films for Roger Corman: 1955's Day the World Ended and 1956's Swamp Women. For director Edward L. Cahn, Connors appeared in 1956's Shake, Rattle & Rock! and 1957's Voodoo Woman. His more recent film credits include Claudia Hoover's Gideon (1998), and William Tannen's comedy Nobody Knows Anything (2003), where he made a cameo appearance as Joe Mannix. Mike Connors (August 15, 1925 - January 26, 2017) R.I.P.