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Films: S is for...

Scapegoat, The

Slight Alec Guinness mystery wherein He Who Hopes They Don’t Laugh plays a mild-mannered English teacher and his villainous aristocratic French double. Enough with the multiple roles, already! Anyway, this Features the great Geoffrey Keen. The lugubrious actor is best known as Sir Frederick ‘What *is* Bond doing?’ Gray, but he’s staked a claim in just about every part of the Cream-era films canon throughout his career. From early bit parts in classics like Odd Man Out and The Third Man, he quickly set out his stall as a player of pompous, slightly malevolent figures of authority. Policemen, priests and military types were his domain, whether concocting a corpse conspiracy in The Man Who never Was, or chasing after a begoggled Kenneth More in Genevieve. Overlooked cod-Ealing brandy smuggling romp Green Grow the Rushes, superior sci-fi The Mind Benders, Dymchurch-based Georgian adventure The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and strike-busting Dickie Attenborough drama The Angry Silence all benefitted immeasurably from his presence. His only bill-topping role was on TV, as the deputy head of Mogul Oil in BBC boardroom inrigue drama The Troubleshooters, though he came close in Hammer’s fun Taste the Blood of Dracula, buying vampiric artifacts from Roy Kinnear and generally hamming up the Victorian dignitary bit for all it’s worth, until Linda Hayden stoves his head in with a spade. Then, while he was Bonding, he cheekily moonlit with eerily similar cameo roles in some of daft ‘maverick’ indie producer Lindsay Shonteff’s lairy late ’70s Bond spoofs. A man who had a humble, self-deprecating opinion of his oeuvre (something his Dracula co-star Christopher Lee could do with a bit more of), but who made potentially ho-hum parts memorable for the best part of three decades: the toast is Geoffrey Keen.

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  1. Matt Patton

    October 26, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Screenplay by Gore Vidal, who seems to hate Daphne DuMaurier (author of the source novel) almost as much as he hates Truman Capote. And yet here he is. A man of Sterling Principles . . .

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