Friday, 4 December 2009

Richard Todd RIP

Richard Todd, who has just died at the age of 90, was one of my favourite actors. In a way I grew up with him, although he is 30 years my senior. When I was very young I was taken to see "The Dam Busters", and so he has become one of the faces I remember from my earliest years. I used to think he was not really an actor but had drifted into it after the war, but this is unfair. I realised just how good an actor he was when I saw the film, "A Man Called Peter" which is one of the best "religious" films I have ever seen. If you can, get the DVD.
The film is based on a true story - that of Rev. Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian minister who started in a humble, small-town congregation (I forget the name of the location in the U.S.) and then went on to become a well-known pastor in New York, eventually becoming Chaplain to the United States Senate. The film was based on a book written by the late Peter Marshall's wife, which became a best seller. I was so impressed with Todd's acting in this that I had the idea he must be a religious man. I found out that, if he was, he hardly ever said anything about it, and there was no proof that he was a practising Christian (although I would love to be proved wrong). He was born in Dublin, but I always thought he was a Scot since he often played Scottish characters and had a convincing accent.
Since seeing that film, I have looked out for others. Some have not been so good, but others have been excellent, and I am thinking of a British "Film noir" called, "Never Give In" which also has Peter Sellers in a cracking dramatic role. Todd was much better than many people knew - and perhaps better than he knew himself. I know he was a courageous man (a war hero) and suffered a lot in his life (two of his children committed suicide!). Much of his work was not only good, but uplifting, and I'm sure his portrayal of Peter Marshall has had a profound effect on some people.

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