Born 1941                       Actress


S a r a h  M i l e s

    b. Ingaleston, England, 1941

    Called up straight from RADA to seduce Olivier in Term of Trial (62, Peter Glenville Sarah Miles was originally typecast as slut material - a husky, wide-eyed nymphet, a kind of Jean Simmons naughtier, younger sister. But The Servant (63, Joseph Losey), as Vera from Manchester, she shattered the stereotype and thrust sexual appetite into British films. She managed the sultry authority of the waif on the kitchen table who pats her stomach as she complains of the heat and the wretched misery of the outcast who tumbles in and out of the rain in a garish wig. Her performance, like that of Bogarde, was part of a sexual ballet, swooping in and out of seduction and dictatorship. It also smelled of a provincial scrubber up in the smoke - remember her excitement as she is driven away from the railway station.

    Perhaps Sarah Miles's unexpected willfulness had something to do with Vera being one of the few whole women in Losey's work. It certainly affected her subsequent career. For she moved hesitantly away from the slut, to the short The Six-Sided Triangle (63, Christopher Miles, her brother) and The Ceremony (63, Laurence Harvey). She was a poppet in boater and scarf in Those Magnificient Men in Their Flying Machines (65, Ken Annakin) and then an Irish innocent in I Was Happy Here (65, Desmond Davis). She seemed bewildered and disenchanted by her peripheral part in Blow-Up (66, Michelangelo Antonioni) and dropped out of films.

    She was brought back by Robert Bolt, whom she married: as another Irish girl, Ryan's Daughter (70, David Lean), and a jittery rag doll Lady Caroline Lamb (72, Robert Bolt). Neither was especially rewarding, whereas she might have saved The Go-Between from compacency if she had been coaxed into bringing the spite, selfisness, and sensuality to the part that Julie Christie ignored or if Alan Bridges had directed that film as sharply as he did The Hireling (73), with Miles in another L.P. Hartley story.

    She was incongrous in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (73, Richard C. Sarafian); Estella in Great Expectations (75, Joseph Hardy); at the soft center of some silly sex scenes in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (76, Lewis John Carlino); vainly trying to be a pre-Raphaelite Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (78, the dreadful Michael Winner).

    She was in Priest of Love (80, Miles) as a film star; Venom (81, Piers Haggard); Walter and June (82, Stephen Frears); Ordeal by Innocence (84, Desmond Davis); Steaming (85, Losey); Hope and Glory (87, John Boorman); White Mischief (87, Michael Radford); and A Ghost in Monte Carlo (90, John Hough).

s a r a h  m i l e s  |  g a l l e r y

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