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Top British film star visits Sydney

Hawkins charms at

fast-moving session

By our film critic, M. J. McMAHOlS

Would vou recognise a film star if you saw one emerging from an overseas I airliner in the early morning? It isn't

easy.

But my guess is that Australian film fans would manage to spot Jack Hawkins, British filmdom's top male star, without much

trouhle.

OFF-SCREEN the 44

year-old actor looks

|j exactly as millions of

moviegoers know him ?

I] a sturdy figure, dark

I haired, and attractive in a

I battered sort of way.

However, five minutes' con

I versation with him suggests

r that there are differences be

I tween his on-screen and off I screen personalities.

Hawkins, with fellow actor I Noel Purcell, dancer Lava

Raki. and a party of 15 movie people, recently passed through Sydney by air to New Zealand, where outdoor sequences for the new British film, "The Seekers," are being shot.

Jack Hawkins made the grade by playing strong, taci turn characters on the screen, but in reality he is easy to talk to and very charming.

He combines the ruggedness of ├Ą stern man with sympathy and human understanding.

A habit of making star pieces out of the true-to-life types of people he usually plays is the main ingredient in

Hawkins' immense box-office appeal.

British commanding officer

'olcs like the R.A.F. chief in

'Angels One Five" and the corvette skipper of his hit film "The Cruel Sea," which is now screening in Australia, are his

forte.

Off-screen Hawkins is ur bane, an amusing conversation alist, and has quick laughter.

Women will approve his

smooth manners and unobtru

sive English charm.

During his first appearance before the Press in Australia, Jack Hawkins put on a show of affability that was never expected of him. He even managed to convey the im pression of enjoying himself.

Good-humored and wry, and broadly gagging by turns, he dealt for nearly two hours with questions like these:

"When will 'The Seekers' be released?

"Is it to be a Royal Com

mand film?

"Do you intend to come

back to Australia?

"What do you consider your

best film role?"

On the sidelines, beetle browed Noel Purcell, an Irish

BRITISH film star Jack Hawkins photographed with dancer Lay a Raki and character actor Noel Purcell at Rose Bay, Sydney. They were about to leave on the last leg of

the 13.000-mile London-Auckland flight.

man with a personality to match his rich brogue, stole some of the limelight.

Mr. Purcell is very talkative. 1 le rarely stops. And he's most amusing.

Dressed in a summerweight, light gabardine suit with a spotted necktie, from the col

lar down he looked like a

prosperous Californian.

Above it a luxuriant grey

beard and Burt Lancaster hair

cut gave him a rakish appear

ance.

I asked Purcell, 6ft. 3in. tall

and a veteran, "Why the crew

cut?"

He screwed up his face. " 'Tis no crew cut at all," he scolded. " 'Tis me own hair

growin' back after being

shaved as bald as the back of your hand."

In England his head had been shaved and he wore a wig for his part as an early seaman in scenes of "The Seekers" that were filmed there.

Hero Jack Hawkins cherishes a curly, byronic mane for his part in the film.

Picking up one of numerous cups of coffee which he never managed to empty, Hawkins told me in that mellow voice that you know so well on the screen, "Oh, yes, I'm very keen to come back to Australia.

I'm looking forward to seeing some'hing of the country on the way home."

His idea is to spend some time with relatives who live

in the Sydney suburb of Bal gowlah and to try his hand at surf fishing.

In answer to a question about playing the hero of an early adventure yarn, Hawkins put joking aside before reply ing.

"Since the war I've made

some interesting pictures and I've enjoyed making them,"

he said.

"Some more than others, naturally. I got most kick out of playing Ericson (of 'The Cruel Sea').

"An actor needs change.

"There's ample scope in 'The Seekers,' " he pointed out. "You know, pioneer stuff

with tons of character. The story is more history than Hollywood, and there is also strong romantic interest."

In his new picture Hawkins portrays an English seaman who blazes the trail towards amicable relationships between Maori chieftains and white settlers.

Clvnis Johns, of the husky voice and tip-tilted nose, plays his wife. Glynis, with other commitments to meet in Eng land, is not a member of the location unit.

Sultry-looking Laya Raki is a M^ori maiden who catches the hero's eve.

A cabaret dancer from

Cologne, she was originally a "discovery" of phony actors' agent Major Michael How ard, who promised to make her a film star.

Stranded in London when so-called Major Howard went marching off to prison for seven years for a long list of swindles, Raki was taken up by British film-m kcrs.

Spectators did a double-take when Raki appeared on the scene, sleek as a seal in a tight white suit with a nipped-i' jacket, her straight, black hair swinging half-way down her

back.

An exponent of exotic dances of the sinuous, hip swaying type, Raki has ap peared in several German pic tures, but hasn't done much acting before.

She speaks English halt ingly with a strong, broken

accent

And here's where the Eng lish insistence on authentiritv breaks down. How will the Maoris take to the idea of a half-German, half-Javanese girl playing the lead role as one of their own people?

Pinewood'B publicists ex plain it in this way. "Laya ha^ a strong Polynesian cast ot feature. We had tested several Maori girls?some of them beautiful?but somehow the cameras didn't take to them

You know how people pho tograph differently from tlv way they really look . . .

"Well, when we ┬╗tumbled across Laya Raki and testi

her, she photographed ideally for the part. She looks mon

like a Maori than a Maori.

Jack Hawkins may or ma\

not return to Australia. If he

does, filmgoers will probabb have the chance to see him make a personal appearance on a Sydney stage.

In any case, I have an auto graphed tin of Frankfurter Wurstchen I sausage to the un enlightened) to show that Jack Hawkins and Noel Pur cell stopped here.

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