Adrienne Corri in her most notable role in a trailer for A Clockwork Orange (1971)
13 November 1930
|Died||13 March 2016 (aged 85)|
(m. 1961; div. 1967)
She was born Adrienne Riccoboni in Glasgow, the daughter of Olive Smethurst and an Italian father Luigi Riccoboni (sometimes spelt Reccobini). Her distinctive auburn hair came from her mother's Lancastrian Mancunian Smethurst family. In the 1930s, her father Luigi (known as Louis) ran the Crown Hotel in Callander, Perthshire. She had one brother.
Despite having significant roles in many films, Corri is best known for one of her smaller parts, that of Mrs. Alexander, the wife of the writer Frank Alexander, in Stanley Kubrick's dystopian film A Clockwork Orange (1971). Though not originally cast in this role, she was brought in after the previous actress, reported to be Bernadette Milnes, left the film. Corri was offered the role after two actresses had already withdrawn from the film, one of them, according to Malcolm McDowell (Alex in the film), because she found it "too humiliating – because it involved having to be perched, naked, on Warren Clarke's (playing Dim the Droog) shoulders for weeks on end while Stanley decided which shot he liked the best." Corri had no such qualms about appearing naked, joking to McDowell: "Well, Malcolm, you're about to find out that I'm a real redhead." Corri earned Kubrick's respect by her willingness to undergo the grueling process of shooting endless takes. She recalled: "For four days I was bashed about by Malcolm (Alex) and he really hit me. One scene was shot 39 times until Malcolm said 'I can't hit her anymore!'"
Corri's film debut was in The Romantic Age (1949), which was followed by Jean Renoir's version of The River (1951). Her other film roles included Lara's mother in David Lean's Dr. Zhivago (1965), and Dorothy in Otto Preminger's thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing (also 1965). She also appeared in a number of horror and suspense films until the 1970s including Devil Girl from Mars (1954), The Tell-Tale Heart (1960), A Study in Terror (1965) and Vampire Circus (1972). She also appeared as Therese Duval in Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). The range and versatility of her acting is shown by appearances in such diverse productions as the science fiction movie Moon Zero Two (1969) where she played opposite the character actor Sam Kydd (Len the barman), and again in a television version of Twelfth Night (1969), directed by John Sichel, as the Countess Olivia, where she played opposite Alec Guinness as Malvolio.
Her other television credits include Angelica in Sword of Freedom (1958), Yolanda in The Invisible Man episode "Crisis in the Desert" (1958), a regular role in A Family at War (1971) and You're Only Young Twice (also 1971), a television series created by Jack Trevor Story, as Mena in the Doctor Who story "The Leisure Hive" (1980), as Veronica in Love in a Cold Climate (1980). She guest-starred as the mariticidal Liz Newton in the UFO episode "The Square Triangle" (1970) and was in two episodes of Danger Man (US: Secret Agent, both 1965). She was equally at home in the classics of British theatre, giving an outstanding performance as Lady Fidget in a BBC Play of the Month, William Wycherley's Restoration comedy The Country Wife (1977) with Helen Mirren.
Corri had a major stage career, appearing regularly both in London and in the provincial theatres. She appeared in one of the first English performances in 1968 of Come and Go, Samuel Beckett's one-act "dramaticule", in Beckett's coinage, performed at the Royal Festival Hall as part of "a gala entertainment concerning depravity and corruption" (the words coming from the nineteenth-century definition of obscenity), sponsored by the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Defence of Literature and the Arts Society, which raised funds to support publishers being prosecuted for obscenity. It was directed by Deryk Mendel, with Corri appearing alongside Marie Kean and Billie Whitelaw in the roles of Flo, Vi, and Ru. The evening included both classical and rock music, and a mixed programme compèred by George Melly. In his entry for Clifford Anthony Smythe in the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Calder records that "The profit was much less than expected for a sold-out house, as the person who had volunteered to organise the souvenir programme spent too little time finding advertisers as against providing editorial content."
Corri was known for her feisty character. Various stories are recounted of her, such as that when the audience booed on the first night of John Osborne's The World of Paul Slickey, she responded with her own abuse: she raised two fingers to the audience and shouted "Go fuck yourselves". During the making of Moon Zero Two, she poured a glass of iced water inside James Olson's rubber space suit, in which Olsen was left in an uncomfortable state: in the end, he was obliged to wear it for the remainder of the day's shooting.
Corri was acquainted with many of the leading figures in the British theatre, including Joe Orton, and he recounts in his diaries how he asked her advice on how best to end his relationship with his lover Kenneth Halliwell. She enjoyed a good relationship with Stanley Kubrick, who joked with her that in the home invasion sequence in A Clockwork Orange that she was cast in "the Debbie Reynolds part", a reference to Reynolds' role in the film Singin' in the Rain (1952). After completing A Clockwork Orange, Corri kept in touch with Kubrick, who complained to her about the problem he had of losing socks whenever he did the washing, so for Christmas she gave him a pair of bright red socks, a humorous reference to her scene in Orange, where after Alex had finished snipping off her red pyjama suit, she was naked except for a pair of red socks.
In the louche atmosphere of the 1960s, when peers, film stars and gangsters rubbed shoulders, Corri became acquainted with some of the figures in London's demi-monde, including the much-married bon viveur John Wodehouse, 4th Earl of Kimberley, as well as socialising with other actors and the Kray twins at their El Morocco club, one of the haunts of the Krays' acquaintance, the Conservative politician Robert Boothby, who used the twin brothers to supply him with rent-boys.
She was the author of The Search for Gainsborough, a book written in diary form, detailing her efforts to establish the provenance of a painting of David Garrick that she believes to be by a young Thomas Gainsborough. She also wrote a scholarly article in The Burlington Magazine about the portrait and its connection to Gainsborough's very early work, Self Portrait as a Boy c.1739, (the latter can be seen online at the Historical Portraits Image Library). The book displays her wit and erudition, as well as providing the reader with a fund of anecdotes regarding the actress herself. Corri's researches and her article are discussed in "Tom will be a genius – new landscapes by the young Thomas Gainsborough", the catalogue of an exhibition at Philip Mould Ltd, 4–28 July 2009, with text by Lindsay Stainton and Bendor Grosvenor. Corri's claim that the painting was by the young Gainsborough was based on her detailed researches in the archives of the Bank of England, which indicated that significant financial payments were made to Gainsborough while he was still a boy. Following a claim by Corri for the expense incurred restoring and authenticating the picture, the painting was given to her in May 1990, in an out of court of settlement by the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, who disputed her valuation and the attribution to Gainsborough.
Corri was married to actor Daniel Massey from 1961 until they divorced in 1967. The marriage to Massey proved to be somewhat tempestuous, with Massey describing the relationship in the following terms, "We were agonizingly incompatible but we had an extraordinary physical attraction." Massey envisaged a domestic life for Corri but she realised that she was not suited to being a full-time housewife and after a six-year hiatus she resumed her career as an actress.
|1949||The Romantic Age||Norah|
|Quo Vadis||Young Christian Girl||Uncredited|
|1953||The Kidnappers||Kirsty||(US: The Little Kidnappers)|
|1954||Devil Girl from Mars||Doris|
|Meet Mr. Callaghan||Mayola Verville|
|Lease of Life||Susan Thorne|
|Make Me an Offer||Nicky|
|1956||The Anatomist||Mary Paterson||TV Movie|
|The Feminine Touch||Maureen|
|Behind the Headlines||Pam Barnes|
|The Shield of Faith|
|Three Men in a Boat||Clara Willis|
|The Big Chance||Diana Maxwell|
|The Surgeon's Knife||Laura Shelton|
|1958||Corridors of Blood||Rachel|
|1959||The Rough and the Smooth||Jane Buller|
|1960||The Tell-Tale Heart||Betty Clare|
|The Hellfire Club||Lady Isobel|
|1961||Dynamite Jack||Pegeen O'Brien|
|1963||Lancelot and Guinevere||Lady Vivian|
|1965||Bunny Lake Is Missing||Dorothy|
|A Study in Terror||Angela|
|1967||The Viking Queen||Beatrice|
|Africa: Texas Style||Fay Carter|
|Woman Times Seven||Mme. Lisiere||(Segment: At The Opera)|
|1968||Journey into Darkness||Terry Lawrence||(Segment: The New People)|
|1969||The File of the Golden Goose||Angela Richmond|
|Moon Zero Two||Liz|
|Cry Wolf||Mrs. Quinn – woman in tobacconist's shop|
|1971||A Clockwork Orange||Mrs. Alexander|
|1972||Vampire Circus||Gypsy Woman|
|1974||Madhouse||Faye Carstairs Flay|
|The Three Musketeers||Milady||Voice|
|1978||Revenge of the Pink Panther||Therese Douvier|
|1979||The Human Factor||Sylvia|
"All Work and No Pay" is the third episode of the popular 1969 ITC British television series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. The episode was first broadcast on 5 October 1969 on ITV. Directed by Jeremy Summers.Behind the Headlines (1956 film)
Behind the Headlines is a 1956 British crime film directed by Charles Saunders and starring Paul Carpenter, Adrienne Corri, Hazel Court and Alfie Bass. The plot revolves around a male and female journalist joining forces to hunt down a murderer.
It was made at Southall Studios. The film was based on the novel Behind the Headlines by Robert Chapman.Deryk Mendel
Deryk Mendel (1920 - 28 May 2013) was a British ballet dancer, choreographer, actor and director.
He was a friend of Samuel Beckett, who wrote the one-act mime Act Without Words I for him in 1956. Music was by his cousin John S. Beckett. Mendel performed the premiere on 3 April 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre in London.On 14 June 1963, Mendel directed the premiere of Becket's Play (as Spiel) at the Ulmer Theatre in Ulm-Donau, Germany.
On 13 April 1966, Beckett’s sixtieth birthday, Mendel appeared as Joe in the premiere of Eh Joe by Süddeutscher Rundfunk, Stuttgart, the first time that Beckett himself had directed.
In 1968, Mendel directed one of the first English performances of Beckett's Come and Go at the Royal Festival Hall, with Adrienne Corri, Marie Kean and Billie Whitelaw in the roles of Flo, Vi, and Ru.He died in Saint-Ouen, France on 28 May 2013.Devil Girl from Mars
Devil Girl from Mars is a 1954 independently made UK black-and-white science fiction film, produced by Edward J. Danziger and Harry Lee Danziger, directed by David MacDonald, that stars Patricia Laffan, Hugh McDermott, Adrienne Corri, and Hazel Court. The film was released by British Lion Films.Devil Girl from Mars concerns a female alien commander sent from Mars to acquire human males to replace their dying male population, thereby saving Martian civilization from extinction. When negotiation, then intimidation falls short, she must use force (both a raygun and a large robot) to obtain cooperation from a remote Scottish village, where she has landed her crippled flying saucer.
Devil Girl from Mars has become a cult favourite due to the home video revolution.Lease of Life
Lease of Life is a 1954 British film drama made by Ealing Studios and directed by Charles Frend. The film was designed as a star-vehicle for Robert Donat, representing his return to the screen after an absence of over three years during which he had been battling the chronic asthma which plagued his life and career. It was a prestige production which was generally respectfully, if not over-enthusiastically, received and gained Donat a nomination as 'Best British Actor' at the 1955 British Academy Film Awards. In common with a number of other Ealing films of the era, Lease of Life focuses on a specific English milieu – in this case a Yorkshire village and its nearby cathedral city – and examines the nuances, quirks and foibles of its day-to-day life. The film is unique in the Ealing canon in having religion as its dominant theme.Madhouse (1974 film)
Madhouse is a 1974 British horror film directed by Jim Clark for Amicus Productions in association with American International Pictures. It stars Vincent Price, Natasha Pyne, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri and Linda Hayden.Make Me an Offer
Make Me an Offer is a 1954 Eastmancolor British comedy film directed by Cyril Frankel and starring Peter Finch as an antique dealer.. It is based on the novel of the same title by Wolf Mankowitz.Moon Zero Two
Moon Zero Two is a 1969 British science fiction film from Hammer Films, produced by Michael Carreras, directed by Roy Ward Baker, that stars James Olson, Catherine Schell, Warren Mitchell, and Adrienne Corri.
Moon Zero Two was filmed at the ABPC Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. The screenplay was by Michael Carreras from an original story by Gavin Lyall, Frank Hardman, and Martin Davison. In the U.S., the film was billed as a space Western with the phrase 'The first moon "western"...'Second Fiddle (1957 film)
Second Fiddle is a 1957 British comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, Lisa Gastoni and Richard Wattis. The film was produced by Robert Dunbar for Act Films Ltd. It was the final film of prolific director Maurice Elvey.Second Fiddle was missing from the BFI National Archive, and was listed as one of the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" lost films. BFI's update on the list reveals that the film is now found and commercially available on DVD from mid-2015.The Big Chance (1957 British film)
The Big Chance is a 1957 British drama film directed by Peter Graham Scott. It stars Adrienne Corri, William Russell, and Ian Colin. A travel agent trapped in a mundane job with a nagging wife seizes his chance to escape abroad - but is he suited for life on the run?The Feminine Touch (1956 film)
The Feminine Touch is a 1956 British drama film directed by Pat Jackson and starring George Baker, Belinda Lee and Delphi Lawrence. The film is based on the bestselling novel A Lamp Is Heavy by Canadian former nurse Sheila Mackay Russell, and consequently it was released as A Lamp Is Heavy in Canada, while it was given the title The Gentle Touch in the United States, when it was released there in December 1957.The Kidnappers
The Kidnappers (US: The Little Kidnappers) is a 1953 British film, directed by Philip Leacock and written by Neil Paterson.The Surgeon's Knife
The Surgeon's Knife (1957) is a British crime film directed by Gordon Parry and starring Donald Houston, Adrienne Corri and Lyndon Brook.The Tell-Tale Heart (1960 film)
The Tell-Tale Heart is a 1960 British horror film directed by Ernest Morris produced by the Danzigers. The screenplay by Brian Clemens and Eldon Howard is a loose adaptation of the 1843 short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe.Twelfth Night (1970 film)
Twelfth Night is a 1970 British TV adaptation of the play Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.Vampire Circus
Vampire Circus is a 1972 British horror film directed by Robert Young and starring Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters and Anthony Higgins (billed as Anthony Corlan). It was written by Judson Kinberg, and produced by Wilbur Stark and Michael Carreras (who was uncredited) for Hammer Film Productions. The story concerns a travelling circus, the vampiric artists of which prey on the children of a 19th-century Serbian village. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios.Woman Times Seven
Woman Times Seven (Sette Volte Donna in Italian) is a 1967 Italian/French/American co-production anthology film of seven episodes, all starring Shirley MacLaine, most of them based on aspects of adultery.You're Only Young Twice (1971 TV series)
You're Only Young Twice was a British television comedy aired in 1971. It was produced by Associated Television (ATV). Cast included Liam Redmond, Adrienne Corri, Peter Copley, George Woodbridge, Leslie Dwyer, Vic Wise, Carmen Munroe, Anthony Jackson, Walter Swash, and John Dolan. All six episodes are believed to have been lost. It should not be confused with the 1977-1981 series of the same name, which still exists in the archives.