Peter Finch

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Frederick George Peter Ingle-Finch (1916-77),
b. South Kensington, London

The son of an Australian farmer, Finch went to Sydney at the age of ten and spent his youth in Australia. Among a variety of jobs he made one film there, Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (38, Ken G. Hall), before war service...(scroll down)

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After that he was acting in the Australian theatre and cinema - Rats of Tobruk (44, Charles Chaurel) and Eureka Stockade (47, Harry Watt) - before Laurence Olivier, on tour, recommended that he go to England, and in time Finch had a melodramatic affair with Vivien Leigh. He appeared on the London stage (Iago once to Welles's Othello), but soon settled for films, at first in small parts, then with a mixture of heavies and romantic leads, with an early involvement in American films: Train of Events (49, Charles Crichton and Basil Dearden); The Miniver Story (50, H. C. Potter); The Wooden Horse (50, Jack Lee); The Story of Robin Hood (52, Ken Annakin); The Heart of the Matter (53, George More O'Ferrall); The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (54, Sidney Gilliat); Elephant Walk (54, William Dieterle); Father Brown (54, Robert Hamer); Make Me an Offer (54, Cyril Frankel); Dark Avenger (55, Henry Levin); Josephine and Men (55, Roy Boulting); Passage Home (55, Roy Boulting); and Simon and Laura (55, Muriel Box).

He was nearly 40 now, and with a breath of accent and a face weathered by sun he was more masculine than most men in the British cinema. As his parts improved, so he showed himself increasingly subtle and capable. Unlike many other British actors, he seemed to leave reserves untapped that implied a full character of which we were seeing only a part. In essence it comes from the ability to discover a part of yourself in whatever character you are playing. Because no effort seems to have been made, the effect of authority is all the more compelling: The Battle of the River Plate (56, Michael Powell); as an Australian soldier in A Town Like Alice (56, Lee); Robbery Under Arms (57, Lee); Windom's World (58, Ronald Neame); The Nun's Story (59, Fred Zinnemann); Operation Amsterdam (59, Michael McCarthy); stylish and touching in The Trials of Oscar Wilde (60, Ken Hughes); Kidnapped (60, Robert Stevenson); Rachel Cade (60, Gordon Douglas); No Love for Johnnie (61, Ralph Thomas); I Thank a Fool (62, Robert Stevens); In the Cool of the Day (63, Stevens); The Girl With Green Eyes (64, Desmond Davis); as the husband in The Pumpkin Eater (64, Jack Clayton); Judith (65, Daniel Mann); The Flight of the Phoenix (65, Robert Aldrich); 10:30 P.M. Summer (66, Jules Dassin); Far From the Madding Crowd (67, John Schlesinger); as the von Sternberg figure in The Legend of Lylah Clare (68, Aldrich); The Red Tent (71, Mikhail Kalatazov); as the only truly believable character, the homosexual doctor, in Sunday, Bloody Sunday (71, Schlesinger); Something to Hide (71, Alastair Reid); as Nelson in Bequest to the Nation (72, James Cellan Jones); England Made Me (72, Peter Duffell); bearing up manfully in the Ronald Colman part in the musical Lost Horizon (72, Charles Jarrott); and The Abdication (74, Anthony Harvey).

He played Yitzhak Rabin in Raid on Entebbe (76, Irvin Kershner). But he will be treasured for his last part, as Howard Beale in Network (76, Sidney Lumet), because it won him the best actor Oscar, posthumously, and because it seemed, with hindsight, a prediction of his own dropping dead. Beale is less a role than a balloon inflated by Chayefsky's sermon, but Finch gave the ranting warnings a bloodshot desperation, and he made one line famous:

    "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."


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Key Dates
P E T E R   F I N C H


    Born 28 December in London, UK


    Moves to Australia


    Works in Australian radio and vaudeville. Makes his screen debut in Dave and Dad Come to Town. In the 1940s comes to Brtain at the behest of Laurence Olivier for stage work which he gives up because of stage fright and concentrates on film. Has an affair with Olivier's troubled wife, Vivien Leigh


    Marries Tamara Tchinarova. 1 child


    Appears in The Story of Robin Hood


    Appears in Elephant Walk



    Divorces Tamara Tchinarova. Marries Yolande Turner. 2 children


    Appears in The Trials of Oscar Wilde


    Divorces Yolande Turner



    Oscar nominated for his work Sunday, Bloody Sunday


    Marries Eletha Finch.1 child



    Completes Network


    Dies of a stroke in Los Angeles on the 14th January during a promotional tour for Network. Wins a a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for his role. Remains the only actor to have won the award posthumously


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P E T E R   F I N C H

  1. Raid on Entebbe (1977) (TV)
  2. Network (1976)
  3. Abdication, The (1974)
  4. England Made Me (1973)
  5. Bequest to the Nation, A (1973)
  6. Lost Horizon (1973)
  7. Something to Hide (1972)
  8. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
  9. Krasnaya palatka (1971)
  10. Legend of Lylah Clare, The (1968)
  11. Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)
  12. 10:30 P.M. Summer (1966)
  13. Judith (1966)
  14. Flight of the Phoenix, The (1965)
  15. First Men in the Moon (1964) (uncredited)
  16. Girl with Green Eyes (1964)
  17. Pumpkin Eater, The (1964)
  18. In the Cool of the Day (1963)
  19. I Thank a Fool (1962)
  20. No Love for Johnnie (1961)
  21. Sins of Rachel Cade, The (1961)
  22. Trials of Oscar Wilde, The (1960)
  23. Kidnapped (1960) .... Alan Breck Stewart
    Nun's Story, The (1959)
  24. Operation Amsterdam (1959)
  25. Windom's Way (1957)
  26. Robbery Under Arms (1957)
  27. Shiralee, The (1957)
  28. Battle of the River Plate, The (1956)
  29. Town Like Alice, A (1956)
  30. Josephine and Men (1955)
  31. Make Me an Offer (1955)
  32. Simon and Laura (1955)
  33. Passage Home (1955)
  34. Dark Avenger, The (1955)
  35. Father Brown (1954)
  36. Elephant Walk (1954)
  37. Heart of the Matter, The (1953)
  38. Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The (1953)
  39. Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, The (1952)
  40. Miniver Story, The (1950)
  41. Wooden Horse, The (1950)
  42. Train of Events (1949)
  43. Eureka Stockade (1949)
  44. Son Is Born, A (1946)
  45. Red Sky at Morning (1944)
  46. Rats of Tobruk, The (1944)
  47. Power and the Glory, The (1941)
  48. Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1939)
  49. Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938)


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