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naunton wayne
(1901-1970)

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british war dvd collection

basil radford

lady vanishes
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michael balcon
alfred hitchcock
carol reed

ealing

robert donat
stanley holloway
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john mills
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         naunton
         wayne

wayne


n a u n t o n   w a y n e  :   b i o g  ]


"An affable, upper-crust British actor."
- Paul Page


biography | books | dvds | videos
british war dvd collection
naunton wayne
basil radford | lady vanishes
night train to munich | whisky galore!
michael balcon | alfred hitchcock | carol reed


wayne
Michael Redgrave and Naunton Wayne
The Lady Vanishes, 1938


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biography

    Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, two affable, upper-crust British actors who so tickled the public's fancy as cricket-loving Englishmen abroad that they made several more appearances together in some very popular comedies, and provided light relief in other films. They were equally popular on radio. Although both sounded as though they came from the most afluent part of London, nothing could be further from the truth. Wayne was actually born in Wales, and Radford across the border in Chester.

    Large, bluff, hearty and moustachised, light-haired Radford looked every inch an ex-army officer. He was on stage from 1922, made his film debut in America, but stuck mostly to the English stage until the late 1930s. Small, neat, dapper Wayne, on the other hand, with his shining black hair, concerned look and pigeon cheeks, was a compere and comedian, and a concert-party entertainer for the first eight years of his career from his 1920 debut in the Pavilion at South Wales's Barry Island. He came to London in 1928 and was emcee and general jokester in several West End shows, also appearing in cabaret at some of the town's swishest nightspots, including the Ritz, the Dorchester and the Cafe de Paris. He didn't take a straight acting role until 1937, and it was only the following year that Alfred Hitchcock teamed him with Radford in The Lady Vanishes. They played Charters and Caldicott, names dreamed up by screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, later to become famous producer-directors. As Englishmen on a train going through dangerous European territory, they were more interested in cricket scores than in bodies in the corridor or missing ladies. Both Wayne and Radford proved to have a delightfully droll way of delivering inconsequential dialogue amusingly irrelevant to the events going on around them, and they swiftly developed a marvellous rapport.

    The characters cropped up again in the Gilliat/ Launder-scripted Night Train to Munich, more trains, more Nazis. Radio showed an interest and Launder and Gilliat wrote a zippy serial for them, Crooks' Tour, in 1940, filmed with almost indecent haste the same year.

    They also popped up in wartime shorts, the multi-story Millions Like Us and a second radio serial, Secret Mission 609, bumbling their way to foiling yet another Nazi plot.

    Launder and Gilliat had written them into another film, I See a Dark Stranger, but Radford and Wayne wanted the parts built up a bit. When the writers demurred the actors declined to participate, in so doing saying goodbye to the character names. For when Radford and Wayne returned to radio, Launder and Gilliat claimed copyright on their film characters. So it was as Woolcott and Spencer that Radford and Wayne appeared in their first post-war series, Double Bedlam.

    These jolly comedy-thrillers, usually in eight parts, so pleased the nation's listeners that they proceeded at the rate of one a year: Traveller's Joy, Crime Gentlemen Please, That's My Baby, Having a Wonderful Crime and May I Have the Treasure. There was another film, too, a funny number called It's Not Cricket, in which, as Bright and Early, the priceless pair are private eyes dogged by a lunatic Nazi (Maurice Denham) on cases that end, appropriately, with a cricket match - in which the ball contains a stolen diamond.

    They also made cameo appearances in two other late 1940s comedies, Helter Skelter and Stop Press Girl. These most popular wearers of the old school tie were half-way through their 1952 radio adventure, Rogues' Gallery, when Radford collapsed and died from a heart attack. He was 55. Wayne gallantly carried on to the end of the story alone. It was a gesture in keeping with two characters who always 'played up and played the game'.

    1961 saw his last film appearance in Nothing Barred, and in 1969 Wayne was seen on TV for the last time in John Browne's Body. He died on the 17th November 1970 in Surbiton, Surrey.

  • British War Dvd Collection



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biography | books | dvds | videos
naunton wayne
basil radford | lady vanishes
night train to munich | whisky galore!
michael balcon | alfred hitchcock | carol reed

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