As part of a new series at KennethMore.com, Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter pays tribute to Kenny…
‘It is forty years this month since I met Kenneth More. That Edinburgh day was a stinker; cold and miserable with rain thumping down. There were less people than you might have expected for his signing session at a central bookshop. More was every bit as affable and approachable as you would have hoped. He was the one asking questions about how far I had come and what my interests were. His personal charm merely reinforced the impression you would have gained from watching his countless screen appearances. I have still have my signed copy of More Or Less.
There was hardly a bigger star in British cinema during the 1950s than Kenneth More. There was something utterly dependable about him. If there was a crisis you could trust that his common sense, decency and calm confidence would be enough to save the day. Perhaps that explains why he was so good at portraying real life life heroes and born leaders. Movie stars can seem largely than life but More felt like a member of the family or someone you could share a pint with at the local pub. His acting was understated and unfussy. There was no bluster or grandstanding, just a humble striving to present a performance marked by honesty and humanity.
More received four BAFTA (Best British Actor nominations) for Genevieve (1953), Doctor In The House (1954), The Deep Blue Sea (1955) and Reach For The Sky (1956). The latter contains his performance as irrepressible flying ace Douglas Bader and probably remains his best known film.
Those nominations reflect the range of his talent. He may have been a stalwart of British war movies but he was also an extremely polished and pleasing light comedian, spot-on as the unflappable gentleman’s gentleman in The Admirable Crichton (1957) and providing lots of fun way out west in The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw (1958). Personal favourites among More’s films would have to include the very fine Titanic story A Night To Remember (1958), the rousing adventure North West Frontier (1959) and coming of age drama The Greengage Summer (1961).
Reputations come and go. What once seemed groundbreaking now feels old hat. More seemed to fall out of favour in the 1960s, eclipsed by a new generation of British stars, the rise of kitchen sink dramas and the arrival of angry young men. It is clear now that his best work has stood the test of time and deserves to be remembered, revisited and savoured.’
Allan Hunter is co-director of the Glasgow Film Festival. Follow him here on Twitter