Friday, 25 February 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old actor called Tom Courtenay


Tom Courtenay is 74 today. I remember seeing him on black and white tv in 1963 in a play called 'The Lads'. I was 16 and Tom was 26 when he sang Trevor Peacock's title song called 'Mrs Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter'.



Here he sings the song against a backdrop of clips from the film 'Billy Liar' which he made with the beautiful Julie Christie in the same year :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsaXnZSipBA

Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter.
Girls as sharp as her are somethin' rare,
But it's sad, she doesn't love me now,
She's made it clear enough it ain't no good to pine.

She wants to return those things I bought her.
Tell her she can keep them just the same.
Things have changed, she doesn't love me now,
She's made it clear enough it ain't no good to pine.

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well,
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud.

If she finds that I've been round to see you,
Tell her that I'm well and feelin' fine.
Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart,
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine.

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well,
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud.

If she finds that I've been round to see you,
Tell her that I'm well and feelin' fine.
Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart,
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine.

Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter.

***************************************************

Things you probably didn't know about Tom, that he :

* was born in Hull where his father was a boat painter and after leaving Kingston High School, studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and made his stage d├ębut in Edinburgh in 1960.

* took over from Albert Finney in the title role of 'Billy Liar' at the Cambridge Theatre in 1961 and said of himself and Albert : "We both have the same problem, overcoming the flat harsh speech of the North."
Talking about 'Billy Liar' to an audience in 2010 :
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/video/2010/nov/19/tom-courtenay-conversation-video

* had his film debut in 1962 with 'Private Potter', directed by Finnish-born Caspar Wrede.

* starred in 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner', directed by Tony Richardson and played 'Billy' in the John Schlesinger's film version of 'Billy Liar' in 1963.
The final scene in the first film where he deliberately loses the race, dubbed into a foreign language, but the message is clear :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MymvWPKuvho

* was, for his role as the revolutionary leader Pasha Antipov in 'Doctor Zhivago' in 1965, nominated for an Academy Award for 'Best Supporting Actor'.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6raF7kcJJs

* played opposite Dirk Bogard in 'King & Country' directed by Joseph Losey and had parts in the War films : 'Operation Crossbow' and 'The Night of the Generals'.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc4m_XxrdlE

* from the mid-1960s concentrated more on stage work and at the 'Royal Exchange' and played a variety of roles, including in 1999 the lead in 'King Lear' and in 2001, 'Uncle Vanya'.


* in 2000 his memoir 'Dear Tom: Letters From Home' was published to critical acclaim comprising a selection of the letters exchanged between him and his mother, interspersed with his own recollections of life as a young student actor in London in the early 1960s.

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