BAKER, (Sir) Stanley






Nationality: British. Born: Ferndale, Rhondda Valley, Wales, 8 February 1928. Education: Schools in Ferndale. Military Service: 1946–48—served in Royal Army Service Corps. Family: Married Ellen Martin, 1950, three sons, one daughter. Career: 1943—film debut in Underground ; 1943–49—concentrated on stage acting in repertory work in Birmingham and London; 1953—critical attention for role in film The Cruel Sea ; 1960—with Joseph Losey and Alun Owen formed Cambria Films; c.1963—formed Diamond Productions with Cy Endfield, began co-producing some of his films; 1967—formed Oakhurst Productions with Michael Deeley; 1968–76—Director, Harlech TV; 1972–76—in TV series How Green Was My Valley . Knighted 1976. Died: In Malaga, Spain, 28 June 1976.


Films as Actor:

1943

Undercover ( Underground ) (Nolbandov) (as Peter)

1948

Obsession ( The Hidden Room ) (Dmytryk)

Stanley Baker (left) with Irene Papas, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and James Darren in The Guns of Navarone
Stanley Baker (left) with Irene Papas, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and James Darren in The Guns of Navarone

1949

All over the Town (Twist) (as Barnes)

1950

Your Witness ( Eye Witness ) (Montgomery) (as Sgt. Bannoch); Lilli Marlene (Crabtree) (as Evans)

1951

The Rossiter Case (Searle) (as Joe); Cloudburst (Searle) (as Milkman); Home to Danger (Fisher) (as Willie Dougan); Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (Walsh) (as Mr. Harrison)

1952

Whispering Smith Hits London ( Whispering Smith vs. Scotland Yard ) (Searle) (as reporter)

1953

The Cruel Sea (Frend) (as First Officer Bennett); The Red Beret ( The Paratrooper ) (Young) (as Breton); The Tell-Tale Heart (Williams) (as Edgar Allan Poe); Hell Below Zero (Robson) (as Erik Bland)

1954

The Good Die Young (Gilbert) (as Mike); The Beautiful Stranger ( Twist of Fate ) (Miller) (as Louis Galt); Knights of the Round Table (Thorpe) (as Mordred)

1955

Helen of Troy (Wise) (as Achilles); Richard III (Olivier) (as Henry Tudor)

1956

Alexander the Great (Rossen) (as Attalus); Child in the House (De Lautour and Endfield) (as Stephen Lorimer); A Hill in Korea ( Hell in Korea ) (Amyes) (as Corporal Ryker); Checkpoint (Thomas) (as O'Donovan)

1957

Hell Drivers (Endfield) (as Tom Yatley); Campbell's Kingdom (Thomas) (as Owen Morgan); Violent Playground (Dearden) (as Sgt. Truman)


1958

Sea Fury (Endfield) (as Abel Hewson)

1959

The Angry Hills (Aldrich) (as Konrad Heisler); Yesterday's Enemy (Guest) (as Captain Langford); Jet Storm (Endfield) (as Captain Bardow); Blind Date ( Chance Meeting ) (Losey) (as Inspector Morgan)

1960

Hell Is a City (Guest) (as Inspector Martineau); The Criminal ( The Concrete Jungle ) (Losey) (as Johnny Bannion)

1961

The Guns of Navarone (Thompson) (as C.P.O. Brown)

1962

Sodoma e Gomorra ( Sodom and Gomorrah ; The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah ) (Aldrich and Leone) (as Astaroth); Eva ( Eve ) (Losey) (as Tyvian Jones); In the French Style (Parrish) (as Walter Beddoes); A Prize of Arms (Owen) (as Turpin); The Man Who Finally Died (Lawrence) (as Joe Newman)

1963

Zulu (Endfield) (as Lt. John Chard) (+ co-pr)

1965

Dingaka (Uys) (as Tom Davis); Sands of the Kalahari (Endfield) (as Bain) (+ co-pr); One of Them Is Named Brett (Graef) (as narrator); Who Has Seen the Wind? (Sidney—for TV)

1967

Accident (Losey) (as Charley); Robbery (Yates) (as Paul Clifton) (+ co-pr); Code Name Heraclitus (for TV)

1968

La ragazza con la pistola ( The Girl with the Pistol ) (Monicelli) (as Dr Osborne)

1969

Where's Jack (Clavell) (as Jonathan Wild) (+ co-pr); The Games (Winner) (as Bill Oliver)

1970

Perfect Friday (Hall) (as Mr. Graham); The Last Grenade (Flemyng) (as Major Harry Grigsby); Popsy Pop ( The 21 Carat Snatch ) (Herman) (as Inspector Silva)

1971

Una lucertola con la pelle di donna ( A Lizard with a Woman's Skin ; Schizoid ) (Fulci) (as Inspector Corvin)

1972

Innocent Bystanders (Collinson) (as John Craig)

1975

Zorro (Tessari) (as Huerta); Orzowei (Yves Allégret)

1976

Petita Jimenez ( Bride to Be ) (Alba) (as Pedro de Vargas)




Films as co-producer:


1969 The Italian Job (Collinson) 1970 Colosseum and Juicy Lucy (Palmer)


Publications


By BAKER: article—

"Playing the Game," in Films and Filming (London), August 1970.

On BAKER: book—

Storey, Anthony, Stanley Baker: Portrait of an Actor , London, 1977.

On BAKER: article—

"Stanley Baker," in Ecran (Paris), September 1978.

* * *


Almost alone in the British postwar cinema, Stanley Baker embodied the essence of working-class ability to command. A Welsh-miner chunkiness put aristocratic roles beyond him, a deficiency on which he capitalized by playing the self-motivated man in charge—minor military officer, professional criminal, cop—who gets a dirty job done.

Years of servitude as an unsympathetic support performer in British programme films (notably as a gluttonous officer in The Cruel Sea ) ended with Robert Wise's Helen of Troy : his strutting Achilles radiated power and arrogance. Thereafter, a shrewd association with exiled left-wing Hollywood directors Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield led to his gaining highly effective roles in three Endfield thrillers and as a sadistic professional thug or equally ruthless cop in Losey's The Criminal and Blind Date , Val Guest's Hell Is a City , and Cliff Owen's A Prize of Arms .

In association with the South African-born Endfield, Baker co-produced and starred in Zulu and Sands of the Kalahari . In Zulu , as a pragmatic Lieutenant of Engineers, struggling to fortify Rorke's Drift against Cetewayo's imminent hordes and the more pressing pomposity of an aristocratic Michael Caine, Baker showed a maturing talent for finely shaded performance. He sustained it in Robbery as the criminal mastermind of the so-called Great Train Robbery. But Baker's most improbable acting success was in the Losey/Pinter Accident : he offered a brilliantly offhand portrait of an academic-turned-media-hero, narcissistic, petulant, languid, effortlessly agile in argument but helpless in anything requiring a trace of humanity.

Baker's five years in a variety of Italian and French thrillers before his premature death in 1976 did little justice to a powerful and distinguished performer.

—John Baxter

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