Laurence Harvey
The talented Mr Skikne
in Idols of the Odeons
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Harvey was an actor who apparently delighted in generating his own publicity. This chapter discusses how an overseas-born star created his own image – including his screen name – which attracted much critical opprobrium. Early miscasting as a conventional juvenile lead is contrasted with Harvey’s skill at depicting villains and outsiders. A contract with the producer James Woolf eventually resulted in the actor being cast in Room at the Top, which, together with Expresso Bongo, consolidated his appeal as a leading character. Harvey’s career in the 1960s was marked by attempts at Hollywood stardom, alternated with incisive performances in British films, especially Life at the Top. The chapter concludes with an assessment of his last major British film, A Dandy in Aspic and Harvey’s importance to cinema.

Idols of the Odeons

Post-war British film stardom

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