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Finch, In Films, Plays A Zestful Strangler



PETER FINCH, 32-year-old

Sydney actor, has had a resounding success in London in James Bridie's new comedy

"Daphne Laureola."

His performance as a young Polish poet, in this production by Sir Laurence Olivier, has been described as "the most tender acting on the stage for years."

But when I found him in the clutter of an Ealing Films set re- hearsing "Train of Events" he was in the midst of a far from tender performance.

He was playing a murderer.

ÏT was in the Wintergarden

Theatre. Drury Lane, taken over in the afternoons by the film company for theatrical sequences of the picture.

The theatre was empty except for a row of carpenters and scene shifters in the front stalls, but the stage was full. Camera-men, technicians, make-up and ward- robe personnel were massed there u in some kind of order.

The camera was concentrating on a majestic Richard II, standing there robed in red velvet, bearded and gold-crowned.

"Steady!" from director Basil Dearden. "Action!" A voice came ringing out from behind the camera-men. From the stalls you could not see this man, only the

flash of a gold ring as his hands gesticulated. But the voice was enough to identify him to anyone \vho knows Australian radio.

"From your own mouth, my lord-" (he was giving the cue; he was not before the cameras, but he was tense with protest and his hands were moving as the murderer Exton's hands move in the play)- "did 1 this deed!"

Wearily Bolingbroke answered "They love not poison who . . ." and the camera rolled in for a

close-up revealing, as it moved, Peter Finch in black tights and russet-coloured jerkin, looking lithe and electric and enjoying himscll hugely ",

The film has four sequences, and Peter plays the lead in this particular episode He s an actor who plays Exton in Richard II" and, in private life, murders his wife and puts her bod\ in a basket A good meaty part'" he say» ' I stra-a-a-angle her'" The wife who calls this down upon herself is Mary Morris

AFTER seeing iurmelf on film,

Peter inevitably goes into a despairing coma, occasionally emerging to mutter such phrases

as "I shouldn't have gone up the stairs THAT way!" or "Look, was it all right? Tell me if it was


He is that rare kind of actor who has such a fanatic devotion to his profession that nothing he does will ever be good enough in his own eyes. In everybody else's eyes he's terrific. They try to calm him: "Stop worrying, Peter, you couldn't have been fetter!" and succeed in convincing everyone but Finch.

Finch is an actor's actor, too, and that, perhaps, is the most difficult thing to be, for theatricals are a j'ealous crew and somewhat grudging when it comes to giving


But even before Peter's brilliant performances with the Mercury Theatre he was established as a star, and the reliable, stimulating core of any show.

Sir Laurence Olivier recognised Peter's ability when he was touring Australia, and it was partly on Olivier's recommenda- tion that he decided to try his luck in England. Olivier saw Peter when he was running his own company, touring factories and giving lunch-hour perfor-

mances. ' PETER FINCH has found

working in 'Train of Events" a stimulating business-not only


from the acting point of view, but because it has given him the opportunity to watch director Basil Dearden, for whom he has considerable respect, in action.

Peter has always been keen on direction; he assisted Harry Watt in the making of "Eureka Stock- ade" as well as playing a part in

the film.

Peter doesn't intend to stay away from Australia forever, be- cause no matter how successful he is in England he wants to play his part in the development of Australian films and Australian theatre.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by