Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE (born Alec Guinness de Cuffe; 2 April 1914 – 5 August 2000) was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, Guinness was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played nine different characters. He is also known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), General Yevgraf Zhivago in Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Professor Godbole in A Passage to India (1984). He is also known for his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy; for the original film, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 50th Academy Awards.
Guinness was one of three British actors, along with Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, who made the transition from Shakespearean theatre to blockbuster films immediately after World War II. Guinness served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the war and commanded a landing craft during the invasion of Sicily and Elba. During the war he was granted leave to appear in the stage play Flare Path about RAF Bomber Command.
Guinness won an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a Tony Award. In 1959, he was knighted by Elizabeth II for services to the arts. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement in 1980 and the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award in 1989. Guinness appeared in nine films that featured in the BFI's 100 greatest British films of the 20th century, which included five of Lean's films.
Sir Alec Guinness in 1973 by Allan Warren
Alec Guinness de Cuffe
2 April 1914
|Died||5 August 2000 (aged 86)|
|Resting place||Petersfield Cemetery|
Merula Salaman (m. 1938)
|Years of service||1941–1943|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Guinness was born at 155 Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Road, Maida Vale, as Alec Guinness de Cuffe. His mother's maiden name was Agnes Cuff. She was born 8 December 1890 to Edward Cuff and Mary Ann Benfield. On Guinness's birth certificate, the space for the mother's name shows Agnes de Cuffe. The space for the infant's name (where first names only are given) says Alec Guinness. The column for name and surname of father is blank.
The identity of Guinness's father has never been officially confirmed. From 1875, under English law, when the birth of an illegitimate child was registered, the father's name could be entered on the certificate only if he were present and gave his consent. Guinness himself believed that his father was a Scottish banker, Andrew Geddes (1861–1928), who paid for Guinness's public school education at Fettes College. Geddes occasionally visited Guinness and his mother, posing as an uncle. Guinness's mother later had a three-year marriage to a Scottish army captain named Stiven; his behaviour was often erratic or even violent.
Guinness first worked writing advertising copy. His first job in the theatre was on his 20th birthday, while he was still a drama student, in the play Libel, which opened at the old King's Theatre, Hammersmith, and then transferred to the Playhouse, where his status was raised from a walk-on to understudying two lines, and his salary increased to £1 a week. He appeared at the Albery Theatre in 1936 at the age of 22, playing the role of Osric in John Gielgud's successful production of Hamlet. Also in 1936, Guinness signed on with the Old Vic, where he was cast in a series of classic roles. In 1939, he took over for Michael Redgrave as Charleston in a road-show production of Robert Ardrey's Thunder Rock. At the Old Vic, Guinness worked with many actors and actresses who would become his friends and frequent co-stars in the future, including Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, Anthony Quayle, and Jack Hawkins. An early influence was film star Stan Laurel, whom Guinness admired.
Guinness continued playing Shakespearean roles throughout his career. In 1937, he played Aumerle in Richard II and Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice under the direction of John Gielgud. He starred in a 1938 production of Hamlet which won him acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. He also appeared as Romeo in a production of Romeo and Juliet (1939), Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, and as Exeter in Henry V in 1937, both opposite Laurence Olivier, and Ferdinand in The Tempest, opposite Gielgud as Prospero. In 1939, he adapted Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations for the stage, playing Herbert Pocket. The play was a success. One of its viewers was a young British film editor, David Lean, who would later have Guinness reprise his role in Lean's 1946 film adaptation of the play.
Guinness served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in the Second World War, initially as a seaman in 1941, before receiving a commission as a Temporary Sub-lieutenant on 30 April 1942 and a promotion to Temporary Lieutenant the following year. Guinness then commanded a landing craft at the Allied invasion of Sicily, and later ferried supplies and agents to the Yugoslav partisans in the eastern Mediterranean theatre.
During the war, he was granted leave to appear in the Broadway production of Terence Rattigan's play, Flare Path, about RAF Bomber Command, with Guinness playing the role of Flight Lieutenant Teddy Graham.
Guinness returned to the Old Vic in 1946 and stayed until 1948, playing Abel Drugger in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, the Fool in King Lear opposite Laurence Olivier in the title role, DeGuiche in Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Ralph Richardson in the title role, and finally starring in an Old Vic production as Shakespeare's Richard II. After leaving the Old Vic, he played Eric Birling in J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls at the New Theatre in October 1946. He played the Uninvited Guest in the Broadway production of T. S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party (1950, revived at the Edinburgh Festival in 1968). He played Hamlet under his own direction at the New Theatre in the West End in 1951.
Invited by his friend Tyrone Guthrie to join the premiere season of the Stratford Festival of Canada, Guinness lived for a brief time in Stratford, Ontario. On 13 July 1953, Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival, Shakespeare's Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York."
Guinness won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in Dylan. He next played the title role in Macbeth opposite Simone Signoret at the Royal Court Theatre in 1966. Guinness made his final stage performance at the Comedy Theatre in the West End on 30 May 1989, in the play A Walk in the Woods. In all, between 2 April 1934 and 30 May 1989, he played 77 parts in the theatre.
In films, Guinness was initially associated mainly with the Ealing Comedies, and particularly for playing nine characters in Kind Hearts and Coronets. Other films from this period included The Lavender Hill Mob, black comedy The Ladykillers, and The Man in the White Suit, with all three ranked among the Best British films. In 1952, director Ronald Neame cast Guinness in his first romantic lead role, opposite Petula Clark in The Card. In 1951, exhibitors voted him the most popular British star.
Other notable film roles of this period included The Swan (1956) with Grace Kelly, in her second-to-last film role; The Horse's Mouth (1958) in which Guinness played the part of drunken painter Gulley Jimson, as well as writing the screenplay, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; the lead in Carol Reed's Our Man in Havana (1959); Marcus Aurelius in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964); The Quiller Memorandum (1966); Marley's Ghost in Scrooge (1970); Charles I in Cromwell (1970); Pope Innocent III in Franco Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972) and the title role in Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), which he considered his best film performance, though critics disagreed. Another role which is sometimes referred to as one which he considered his best and is so considered by many critics, is that of Colonel Jock Sinclair in Tunes of Glory (1960). Guinness also played the role of Jamessir Bensonmum, the blind butler, in the 1976 Neil Simon film Murder by Death.
Guinness won particular acclaim for his work with director David Lean, which today is his most critically acclaimed work. After appearing in Lean's Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, he was given a starring role opposite William Holden in The Bridge on the River Kwai. For his performance as Colonel Nicholson, the unyielding British POW commanding officer, Guinness won an Academy Award for Best Actor and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor. Despite a difficult and often hostile relationship, Lean, referring to Guinness as "my good luck charm", continued to cast Guinness in character roles in his later films: Arab leader Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia; the title character's half-brother, Bolshevik leader Yevgraf, in Doctor Zhivago and Indian mystic Professor Godbole in A Passage to India. He was also offered a role in Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970) but declined. At that time, Guinness "mistrusted" Lean and considered the formerly close relationship to be strained—although, at his funeral, he recalled that the famed director had been "charming and affable". Guinness appeared in five Lean films that were ranked in the British Film Institute's top 50 greatest British films of the 20th century: 3rd (Lawrence of Arabia), 5th (Great Expectations), 11th (The Bridge on the River Kwai), 27th (Doctor Zhivago) and 46th (Oliver Twist).
Guinness's role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy, beginning in 1977, brought him worldwide recognition to a new generation, as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. In letters to his friends, Guinness described the film as "fairy tale rubbish" but the film's sense of moral good – and the studio's doubling of his initial salary offer – appealed to him and he agreed to take the part of Kenobi on the condition that he would not have to do any publicity to promote the film. He negotiated a deal for 2.25% of the gross royalties paid to the director, George Lucas, who received one-fifth of the box office takings. This made him very wealthy in his later life. Upon his first viewing of the film, Guinness wrote in his diary, "It's a pretty staggering film as spectacle and technically brilliant. Exciting, very noisy and warm-hearted. The battle scenes at the end go on for five minutes too long, I feel, and some of the dialogue is excruciating and much of it is lost in noise, but it remains a vivid experience."
Guinness soon became unhappy with being identified with the part and expressed dismay at the fan following that the Star Wars trilogy attracted. In the DVD commentary of the original Star Wars, Lucas says that Guinness was not happy with the script rewrite in which Obi-Wan is killed. Guinness said in a 1999 interview that it was actually his idea to kill off Obi-Wan, persuading Lucas that it would make him a stronger character and that Lucas agreed to the idea. Guinness stated in the interview, "What I didn't tell Lucas was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo." He went on to say that he "shrivelled up" every time Star Wars was mentioned to him.
Although Guinness disliked the fame that followed work he did not hold in high esteem, Lucas and fellow cast members Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels and Carrie Fisher have spoken highly of his courtesy and professionalism, on and off the set. Lucas credited him with inspiring cast and crew to work harder, saying that Guinness contributed significantly to achieving completion of the filming. Guinness was quoted as saying that the royalties he obtained from working on the films gave him "no complaints; let me leave it by saying I can live for the rest of my life in the reasonably modest way I am now used to, that I have no debts and I can afford to refuse work that doesn't appeal to me." In his autobiography, Blessings In Disguise, Guinness tells an imaginary interviewer "Blessed be Star Wars", regarding the income it provided.
In the final volume of the book A Positively Final Appearance (1997), Guinness recounts grudgingly giving an autograph to a young fan who claimed to have watched Star Wars over a hundred times, on the condition that the boy promise to stop watching the film because "this is going to be an ill effect on your life". The fan was stunned at first but later thanked him (though some sources say it went differently). Guinness is quoted as saying: "'Well', I said, 'do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?' He burst into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. 'What a dreadful thing to say to a child!' she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of second hand, childish banalities." Guinness grew so tired of modern audiences apparently knowing him only for his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi that he would throw away the mail he received from Star Wars fans without reading it.
Guinness was reluctant to appear on television, but accepted the part of George Smiley in the serialisation of John le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) after meeting the author. Guinness reprised the role in Smiley's People (1982), and twice won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the character. Le Carré was so impressed by Guinness's performance that he based his characterisation of Smiley in subsequent novels on him. One of Guinness's last appearances was in the BBC drama Eskimo Day (1996).
Guinness won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in 1957 for his role in The Bridge on the River Kwai after having been unsuccessfully nominated for an Oscar in 1952 for his performance in The Lavender Hill Mob. He was nominated in 1958 for the Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, for his screenplay adapted from Joyce Cary's novel The Horse's Mouth. He was nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars in 1977. He received an Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement in 1980. In 1988, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Little Dorrit. He received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award for lifetime achievement in 1989.
For his theatre work, he received an Evening Standard Award for his performance as T. E. Lawrence in Ross and a Tony Award for his Broadway turn as Dylan Thomas in Dylan. Guinness received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1559 Vine Street on 8 February 1960. Guinness was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1955 Birthday Honours, and was knighted by Elizabeth II in the 1959 New Year Honours. In 1991, he received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University. Guinness was appointed a Companion of Honour in the 1994 Birthday Honours for services to Drama.
Guinness married the artist, playwright, and actress Merula Sylvia Salaman (1914–2000) in 1938; in 1940, they had a son, Matthew Guinness, who later became an actor. From the 1950s the family lived at their home Kettlebrook Meadows, near Steep Marsh in Hampshire. The House itself was designed by Merula's brother Eusty Salaman.
In his biography, Alec Guinness: The Unknown, Garry O'Connor reports that Guinness was arrested and fined 10 guineas (£10.50) for a homosexual act in a public lavatory in Liverpool in 1946. Guinness is said to have avoided publicity by giving his name to police and court as "Herbert Pocket", the name of the character he played in Great Expectations. No record of any arrest has ever been found, however. Piers Paul Read, in his 2003 biography, suggests "The rumour is possibly a conflation of stories about Alec's 'cottaging' and the arrest of John Gielgud, in October 1953, in a public lavatory in Chelsea after dining with the Guinnesses at St. Peter's Square."  This suggestion was not made until April 2001, eight months after his death, when a BBC Showbiz article related that new books claimed that Guinness was bisexual and that he had kept his sexuality private from the public eye and that the biographies further said only his closest friends and family members knew he had sexual relationships with men.
While serving in the Royal Navy, Guinness had planned to become an Anglican priest. In 1954, while he was filming Father Brown in Burgundy, Guinness, who was in costume as a Catholic priest, was mistaken for a real priest by a local child. Guinness was far from fluent in French, and the child apparently did not notice that Guinness did not understand him but took his hand and chattered while the two strolled; the child then waved and trotted off. The confidence and affection the clerical attire appeared to inspire in the boy left a deep impression on the actor. When their son was ill with polio at the age of 11, Guinness began visiting a church to pray. A few years later in 1956, Guinness converted to the Roman Catholic Church. His wife, who was of paternal Sephardi Jewish descent, followed suit in 1957 while he was in Sri Lanka filming The Bridge on the River Kwai, and she informed him only after the event. Every morning, Guinness recited a verse from Psalm 143, "Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning".
Guinness died on the night of 5 August 2000, from liver cancer, at Midhurst in West Sussex. He had been receiving hospital treatment for glaucoma, and had recently also been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was interred at Petersfield, Hampshire.
Guinness wrote three volumes of a best-selling autobiography, beginning with Blessings in Disguise in 1985, followed by My Name Escapes Me in 1996, and A Positively Final Appearance in 1999. He recorded each of them as an audiobook. Shortly after his death, Lady Guinness asked the couple's close friend and fellow Catholic, novelist Piers Paul Read, to write Guinness's official biography. It was published in 2002.
|1946||Great Expectations||Herbert Pocket as an adult|
|1949||Kind Hearts and Coronets||
|1949||A Run for Your Money||Whimple|
|1950||Last Holiday||George Bird|
|1950||The Mudlark||Benjamin Disraeli|
|1951||The Lavender Hill Mob||Henry Holland|
|1951||The Man in the White Suit||Sidney Stratton|
|1952||The Card||Edward Henry 'Denry' Machin|
|1953||The Square Mile||Narrator||Short subject|
|1953||The Captain's Paradise||Capt. Henry St. James|
|1953||Malta Story||Flight Lieutenant Peter Ross RAF|
|1954||Father Brown||Father Brown|
|1954||The Stratford Adventure||Himself||Short subject|
|1955||Rowlandson's England||Narrator||Short subject|
|1955||To Paris with Love||Col. Sir Edgar Fraser|
|1955||The Prisoner||The Cardinal|
|1955||Baker's Dozen||The Major||Television film|
|1955||The Ladykillers||Professor Marcus|
|1956||The Swan||Prince Albert|
|1957||The Bridge on the River Kwai||Col. Nicholson|
|1957||Barnacle Bill||Captain William Horatio Ambrose|
|1958||The Horse's Mouth||Gulley Jimson|
|1959||The Scapegoat||John Barratt/Jacques De Gue|
|1959||The Wicked Scheme of Jebal Deeks||Jebal Deeks||Television film|
|1959||Our Man in Havana||Jim Wormold|
|1960||Tunes of Glory||Maj. Jock Sinclair, D.S.O., M.M.||Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role|
|1961||A Majority of One||Koichi Asano|
|1962||H.M.S. Defiant||Captain Crawford|
|1962||Lawrence of Arabia||Prince Faisal|
|1964||The Fall of the Roman Empire||Marcus Aurelius|
|1965||Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious||Wilhelm Frick|
|1965||Doctor Zhivago||Lieutenant General Yevgraf Andreyevich Zhivago|
|1966||Hotel Paradiso||Benedict Boniface|
|1966||The Quiller Memorandum||Pol|
|1967||The Comedians in Africa||Himself||Short subject|
|1967||The Comedians||Major H.O. Jones||Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1969||Conversation at Night||The Executioner||Television film|
|1970||Twelfth Night||Malvolio||Television film|
|1970||Cromwell||King Charles I|
|1970||Scrooge||Jacob Marley's ghost|
|1972||Brother Sun, Sister Moon||Pope Innocent III|
|1973||Hitler: The Last Ten Days||Adolf Hitler|
|1974||The Gift of Friendship||Jocelyn Broome||Television film|
|1976||Caesar and Cleopatra||Julius Caesar||Television film|
|1976||Murder by Death||Jamesir Bensonmum|
|1977||Star Wars||Obi-Wan Kenobi|
|1979||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||George Smiley||7 episodes|
|1980||The Empire Strikes Back||Obi-Wan Kenobi|
|1980||Raise the Titanic||John Bigalow|
|1980||Little Lord Fauntleroy||Earl of Dorincourt||Television film|
|1982||Smiley's People||George Smiley||6 episodes|
|1983||Return of the Jedi||Obi-Wan Kenobi|
|1984||A Passage to India||Professor Godbole|
|1984||Edwin||Sir Fennimore Truscott||Television film|
|1987||Monsignor Quixote||Monsignor Quixote||Television film|
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
|1987||Little Dorrit||William Dorrit|
|1988||A Handful of Dust||Mr. Todd|
|1991||Kafka||The Chief Clerk|
|1992||Tales from Hollywood||Heinrich Mann||Television film|
|1993||A Foreign Field||Amos||Television film|
|1994||Mute Witness||The Reaper|
|1996||Eskimo Day||James||Television film|
(London, unless otherwise noted)
|1934||Libel!||Junior Counsel||Playhouse Theatre||Non-Speaking Role|
|1934||Queer Cargo||Chinese coolie, French Pirate and English Sailor||Piccadilly Theatre|
|1934||Hamlet||Osric and Third Player||New Theatre|
|1935||Romeo and Juliet||Sampson and Apothecary||New Theatre|
|1936||The Seagull||Workman then Yakov||New Theatre|
|1936||Love's Labour's Lost||Boyet||The Old Vic||Start of a season with the Old Vic Company; September 1936-April 1937.|
|1936||As You Like It||Le Beau and William||The Old Vic|
|1936||The Witch of Edmonton||Old Thorney||The Old Vic|
|1937||Hamlet||Osric and Reynaldo||The Old Vic|
|1937||Twelfth Night||Sir Andrew Aguecheek||The Old Vic|
|1937||Henry V||Exeter||The Old Vic|
|1937||Hamlet||Osric, Player Queen and Reynaldo||Elsinore Castle,Helsingør, Denmark||Put on by the Old Vic Company at Elsinore Castle|
|1937||Richard II||Aumerle and The Groom||Queen's Theatre||Start of a Season with John Gielgud's Company at the Queen's Theatre, September 1937-May 1938.|
|1937||The School for Scandal||Snake||Queen's Theatre|
|1938||The Three Sisters||Fedotik||Queen's Theatre|
|1938||The Merchant of Venice||Lorenzo||Queen's Theatre|
|1938||The Doctor's Dilemma||Louis Dubedat||Richmond Theatre|
|1938||Trelawny of the Wells||Arthur Gower||The Old Vic||Start of a Season with the Old Vic Company. September to December 1938.|
|1938||Hamlet||Hamlet||The Old Vic|
|1938||The Rivals||Bob Acres||The Old Vic|
|1939||Hamlet||Hamlet||The Old Vic||Start of Tour of Europe and Egypt with the Old Vic Company. January to April 1939.|
|1939||Henry V||Chorus||The Old Vic||Tour|
|1939||The Rivals||Bob Acres||The Old Vic||Tour|
|1939||Libel!||Emile Flordan||The Old Vic||Tour|
|1939||Macbeth||Macbeth||Sheffield Playhouse, Sheffield|
|1939||The Ascent of F6||Michael Ransom||The Old Vic|
|1939||Romeo and Juliet||Romeo||Perth Theatre, Perth, Scotland||Part of the first Perth Scottish Theatre Festival|
|1939||Great Expectations||Herbert Pocket||Rudolf Steiner Hall||Version adapted by Guinness from Charles Dickens novel; Performed by The Actor's Company, a group Guinness had formed with George Devine and Marius Goring.|
|1940||Cousin Muriel||Richard Meilhac||Globe Theatre|
|1940||Saint Joan||The Dauphin||Palace Theatre|
|1940||The Tempest||Ferdinand||The Old Vic|
|1940||Thunder Rock||Charleston||Tour of England|
|1940||Flare Path||Fl. Lt. Graham||Henry Miller's Theatre, New York City, United States||Was temporarily released from his war service to perform in this production.|
|1946||The Brothers Karamazov||Mitya||Lyric Theatre||Adapted by Guinness from Fyodor Dostoevsky.|
|1946||The Vicious Circle ||Garcin||Arts Theatre|
|1946||King Lear||The Fool||New Theatre||Start of a Season with the Old Vic Company at the New Theatre. September 1946 – May 1947.|
|1946||An Inspector Calls||Eric Birling||New Theatre|
|1946||Cyrano De Bergerac||De Guiche||New Theatre|
|1947||The Alchemist||Abel Drugger||New Theatre|
|1947||Richard II||Richard II||New Theatre||Start of a Season with the Old Vic Company at the New Theatre. September 1947-May 1948.|
|1947||Saint Joan||The Dauphin||New Theatre|
|1948||The Government Inspector||Khlestakov||New Theatre|
|1948||Coriolanus||Menenius Agrippa||New Theatre|
|1948||Twelfth Night||-||New Theatre||Director only for the Old Vic Company at the New Theatre. September 1948.|
|1949||The Human Touch||Dr. James Simpson||Savoy Theatre|
|1949||The Cocktail Party||Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly||Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland.|
|1950||The Cocktail Party||Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly||Henry Miller's Theatre, New York City, USA|
|1951||Hamlet||Hamlet||New Theatre||This production was also directed by Guinness.|
|1952||Under the Sycamore Tree||The Ant Scientist||Aldwych Theatre|
|1953||Richard III||Richard III||Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada||Start of a Season at the Stratford Festival. July to September 1953.|
|1953||All's Well That Ends Well||King of France||Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada|
|1954||The Prisoner||The Cardinal||Globe Theatre|
|1954||Hotel Paradiso||Boniface||Winter Garden Theatre|
|1960||Ross||Aircraftman Ross / T.E. Lawrence||Theatre Royal Haymarket||Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Best Actor|
|1963||Exit the King||Berenger the First||Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and Royal Court Theatre|
|1964||Dylan||Dylan Thomas||Plymouth Theatre, New York City, USA||Drama League Awards-Distinguished Performance Award; Tony Awards- Best Actor|
|1966||Incident at Vichy||Von Berg||Phoenix Theatre|
|1966||Macbeth||Macbeth||Royal Court Theatre|
|1967||Wise Child||Jock Masters/Mrs. Artminster||Wyndham's Theatre|
|1968||The Cocktail Party||Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly||Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester, Sussex, Wyndham's Theatre, Theatre Royal Haymarket||Production was also directed by Guinness.|
|1970||Time out of Mind||John||Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey.|
|1971||A Voyage Round My Father||Father||Theatre Royal Haymarket|
|1973||Habeas Corpus||Dr. Wickstead||Lyric Theatre|
|1975||A Family and a Fortune||Dudley||Apollo Theatre|
|1976||Yahoo||Dean Swift||Queen's Theatre||Adapted by Guinness from the works of Jonathan Swift.|
|1977||The Old Country||Hilary||Queen's Theatre|
|1984||Merchant of Venice||Shylock||Chichester Festival Theatre|
|1988||A Walk in the Woods||Andrey Botvinnik||Comedy Theatre|
For a number of years, British film exhibitors voted Guinness among the most popular stars in Britain at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald.
A Majority of One is a 1961 American comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, starring Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness. It was adapted from the play of the same name by Leonard Spigelgass, which was a Broadway hit in the 1959-60 season, starring Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke.A Run for Your Money
A Run for Your Money is a 1949 Ealing Studios comedy film starring Donald Houston and Meredith Edwards as two Welshmen visiting London for the first time. The supporting cast includes Alec Guinness, Moira Lister and Hugh Griffith.Barnacle Bill (1957 film)
Barnacle Bill (released in the US as All at Sea) is a 1957 Ealing Studios comedy film, starring Alec Guinness. He plays an unsuccessful Royal Navy officer, and six of his maritime ancestors. This was the penultimate Ealing comedy as well as the last film Guinness made for Ealing Studios. By coincidence, his first Ealing success was Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), in which he also played multiple roles. The film was written by the screenwriter of Passport to Pimlico.Father Brown, Detective
Father Brown, Detective is a 1934 American mystery film directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Walter Connolly, Paul Lukas and Gertrude Michael. It is based on the Father Brown story "The Blue Cross" by G.K. Chesterton, a story which also informed the 1954 film Father Brown with Alec Guinness and Peter Finch.Great Expectations (1946 film)
Great Expectations is a 1946 British film directed by David Lean, based on the novel by Charles Dickens and starring John Mills, Bernard Miles, Finlay Currie, Jean Simmons, Martita Hunt, Alec Guinness and Valerie Hobson. It won two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography) and was nominated for three others (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay).
The script, a slimmed-down version of Dickens' novel – inspired after David Lean witnessed an abridged 1939 stage version of the novel, in which Guinness (responsible for the adaptation) had played Herbert Pocket, and Martita Hunt was Miss Havisham – was written by David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Cecil McGivern, Ronald Neame and Kay Walsh. Guinness and Hunt reprised their roles in the film, but the film was not a strict adaptation of the stage version. The film was produced by Ronald Neame and photographed by Guy Green. It was the first of two films Lean directed based on Dickens' novels, the other being his 1948 adaptation of Oliver Twist.
The film is now regarded as one of Lean's best; in 1999, on the British Film Institute's Top 100 British films list, Great Expectations was named the 5th greatest British film of all time.Kafka (film)
Kafka is a 1991 French-American mystery thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh. Ostensibly a biopic, based on the life of Franz Kafka, the film blurs the lines between fact and Kafka's fiction (most notably The Castle and The Trial), creating a Kafkaesque atmosphere. It was written by Lem Dobbs, and stars Jeremy Irons in the title role, with Theresa Russell, Ian Holm, Jeroen Krabbé, Joel Grey, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Alec Guinness.
Released after Soderbergh's critically acclaimed debut Sex, Lies, and Videotape it was the first of what would be a series of low-budget box-office disappointments. It has since become a cult film, being compared to Terry Gilliam's Brazil and David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch.Last Holiday (1950 film)
Last Holiday is a 1950 British film featuring Alec Guinness in his sixth starring role. The low-key, dark comedy was written and co-produced by J. B. Priestley and directed by Henry Cass, featuring irony and wit often associated with Priestley. Shooting locations included Bedfordshire and Devon.Little Dorrit (1987 film)
Little Dorrit is a 1987 film adaptation of the novel Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. It was written and directed by Christine Edzard, and produced by John Brabourne and Richard B. Goodwin. The music, by Giuseppe Verdi, was arranged by Michael Sanvoisin.The film stars Derek Jacobi as Arthur Clennam and Sarah Pickering in the title role. A huge cast of seasoned British and Irish stage and film actors was assembled to play the dozens of roles, among them are Alec Guinness, Simon Dormandy, Joan Greenwood, Roshan Seth, Miriam Margolyes, Cyril Cusack and Max Wall. Pickering, in contrast, had never previously acted on screen; she was cast after writing to the production team claiming to 'be' Little Dorrit. It remains her only screen acting role.Our Man in Havana (film)
Our Man in Havana is a 1959 British spy comedy film shot in CinemaScope, directed and produced by Carol Reed and starring Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara, Ralph Richardson, Noël Coward and Ernie Kovacs. The film is adapted from the 1958 novel Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene. The film takes the action of the novel and gives it a more comedic touch. The movie marks Reed's third collaboration with Greene.Smiley's People (miniseries)
Smiley’s People is a 1982 drama miniseries in six parts, made for the BBC. Directed by Simon Langton, produced by Jonathan Powell, it is the television adaptation of the 1979 spy novel Smiley's People by John le Carré, and the sequel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Starring Alec Guinness, Michael Byrne, Anthony Bate and Bernard Hepton, it was first shown in the United Kingdom from 20 September to 22 October 1982, and in the United States beginning on 25 October 1982.The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American epic war film directed by David Lean and based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwaï (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The film uses the historical setting of the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943. The cast included William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, and Sessue Hayakawa.
It was initially scripted by screenwriter Carl Foreman, who was later replaced by Michael Wilson. Both writers had to work in secret, as they were on the Hollywood blacklist and had fled to England in order to continue working. As a result, Boulle, who did not speak English, was credited and received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; many years later, Foreman and Wilson posthumously received the Academy Award.The film was widely praised, winning seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 30th Academy Awards. It used lush colour to bring out the British stiff upper lip of the colonel, played by Alec Guinness in an Oscar-winning performance. In 1997, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. It has been included on the American Film Institute's list of best American films ever made. In 1999, the British Film Institute voted The Bridge on the River Kwai the 11th greatest British film of the 20th Century.The Captain's Paradise
The Captain's Paradise is a 1953 British comedy film produced and directed by Anthony Kimmins, and starring Alec Guinness, Yvonne De Carlo, and Celia Johnson. Guinness plays the captain of a passenger ship that travels regularly between Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco. De Carlo plays his Moroccan wife and Johnson plays his British wife. The film begins at just before the end of the story, which is then told in a series of flashbacks.
In 1958, the story was made into a Broadway musical comedy, retitled Oh, Captain!.The Card (1952 film)
The Card is a black-and-white film version of the novel by Arnold Bennett. Entitled The Promoter for its American audience, it was adapted by Eric Ambler and directed by Ronald Neame. It was released in 1952. It starred Alec Guinness as Denry Machin, Petula Clark as Nellie Cotterill, Valerie Hobson as the Countess, and Glynis Johns as Ruth Earp. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound.It is mainly faithful to the novel, omitting some minor incidents.The Horse's Mouth (film)
The Horse's Mouth is a 1958 film directed by Ronald Neame and filmed in Technicolor. Alec Guinness wrote the screenplay from the 1944 novel The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary, and also played the lead role of Gulley Jimson, a London artist.The Prisoner (1955 film)
The Prisoner is a 1955 drama film directed by Peter Glenville and based on the play by Bridget Boland. The film stars Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins.The Scapegoat (1959 film)
The Scapegoat is a 1959 crime film based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, and starring Alec Guinness, Nicole Maurey and Bette Davis.Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (miniseries)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 1979 seven-part drama spy miniseries made by BBC TV. John Irvin directed and Jonathan Powell produced this adaptation of John le Carré's novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974). The mini-series, which stars Alec Guinness, Alexander Knox, Ian Richardson, Michael Jayston, Anthony Bate, Ian Bannen, George Sewell and Michael Aldridge, was shown in the United Kingdom from 10 September to 22 October 1979 and in the United States beginning on 29 September 1980.
In the United States, syndicated broadcasts and DVD releases compressed the seven UK episodes into six, by shortening scenes and altering the narrative sequence. In the UK original, George Smiley visits Connie Sachs before Peter Guillam's burglary of the Circus; the US version reverses the sequence of these events, in line with the time sequence of the novel.Tunes of Glory
Tunes of Glory is a 1960 British drama film directed by Ronald Neame, based on the novel and screenplay by James Kennaway. The film is a "dark psychological drama" focusing on events in a wintry Scottish Highland regimental barracks in the period following the Second World War. It stars Alec Guinness and John Mills, and features Dennis Price, Kay Walsh, John Fraser, Susannah York, Duncan MacRae and Gordon Jackson.
Writer Kennaway served with the Gordon Highlanders, and the title refers to the bagpiping that accompanies every important action of the regiment. The original pipe music was composed by Malcolm Arnold, who also wrote the music for The Bridge on the River Kwai. The film was generally well received by critics, the acting in particular garnering praise. Kennaway's screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award.
Awards for Alec Guinness