It’s rare for me to appear in the Rust two days running but the editor asked me to pen a few words after the passing of Albert Finney. He was undoubtedly one of our leading actors of stage and screen but – though nominated five times for an Oscar – he never received one.
This summed up a career which did not really fulfill its considerable talents though he was always worth watching.
The son of a Salford bookmaker, he made his film debut in The Entertainer alongside Laurence Olivier but established himself the same year (1960) in Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, a gritty Northern-set film of the Alan Sillitoe novel in which he played the irrepressible Arthur Seaton. He was in the same class at RADA as Peter O’Toole and also in the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Throughout his career he married high quality stage and screen work. Tom Jones made his fame and fortune as he had a profit participation but perhaps it came to him too young.
He certainly did memorable work on stage with Tom Courtenay in Art and pairing up with him in the film The Dresser .
He continued to get leading roles late into life as the lawyer in Erin Brockavich and a very good Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm (2002).
It’s a study of marriage in crisis and the chemistry between the two is so well calibrated one wonders what was happening off set.
A titan of acting, yes, but one who did not leave a legacy of a film or role with which he was indelibly linked.