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:
Undercover ( Underground ) (Nolbandov) (as Peter)
Obsession ( The Hidden Room ) (Dmytryk)
All over the Town (Twist) (as Barnes)
Your Witness ( Eye Witness ) (Montgomery) (as Sgt. Bannoch); Lilli Marlene (Crabtree) (as Evans)
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)
Whispering Smith Hits London ( Whispering Smith vs. Scotland Yard ) (Searle) (as reporter)
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)
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)
Helen of Troy (Wise) (as Achilles); Richard III (Olivier) (as Henry Tudor)
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)
Hell Drivers (Endfield) (as Tom Yatley); Campbell's Kingdom (Thomas) (as Owen Morgan); Violent Playground (Dearden) (as Sgt. Truman)
Sea Fury (Endfield) (as Abel Hewson)
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)
Hell Is a City (Guest) (as Inspector Martineau); The Criminal ( The Concrete Jungle ) (Losey) (as Johnny Bannion)
The Guns of Navarone (Thompson) (as C.P.O. Brown)
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)
Zulu (Endfield) (as Lt. John Chard) (+ co-pr)
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)
Accident (Losey) (as Charley); Robbery (Yates) (as Paul Clifton) (+ co-pr); Code Name Heraclitus (for TV)
La ragazza con la pistola ( The Girl with the Pistol ) (Monicelli) (as Dr Osborne)
Where's Jack (Clavell) (as Jonathan Wild) (+ co-pr); The Games (Winner) (as Bill Oliver)
Perfect Friday (Hall) (as Mr. Graham); The Last Grenade (Flemyng) (as Major Harry Grigsby); Popsy Pop ( The 21 Carat Snatch ) (Herman) (as Inspector Silva)
Una lucertola con la pelle di donna ( A Lizard with a Woman's Skin ; Schizoid ) (Fulci) (as Inspector Corvin)
Innocent Bystanders (Collinson) (as John Craig)
Zorro (Tessari) (as Huerta); Orzowei (Yves Allégret)
Petita Jimenez ( Bride to Be ) (Alba) (as Pedro de Vargas)
Films as co-producer:
The Italian Job
Colosseum and Juicy Lucy
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.