Saturday, 11 January 2014

Killer Nun

The 93rd anniversary today of the birth of British actress Kathleen Byron - best remembered for her role as the erotomaniac nun-gone-bad, chasing demure Deborah Kerr around that fantastical mountain-top convent (having changed her habit for lipstick and a scarlet dress) with murder (and lust) in mind, before plummeting to her death in Black Narcissus - gives me the perfect excuse for another dose of the marvellous Tired Old Queen At The Movies!

Here is Mr Steve Hayes enthusing (as only he can) about that movie:

Miss Byron was no coenobite in real life either, allegedly, according to her obituary in The Telegraph:
[Director of Black Narcissus and several of Miss Byron's films] Michael Powell was named as co-respondent in her divorce suit in 1950. He insisted that he had always had a special respect for her "ever since she pulled a gun on me". He apparently remembered the incident well, giving it some prominence in his autobiography. "It was a revolver", he recalled, "a big one, US army issue, and it was loaded. A naked woman and a loaded gun are persuasive objects, and I have always thought that I deserved congratulations for talking myself out of that one."
She denied it, of course.

Her career was a long one after that impressive(!) start - apart from three Powell-Pressburger films she had roles opposite such stars as Margaret Lockwood, Jean Simmons, Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr (several more times) and Anthony Hopkins, and numerous "character" roles in productions for British studios such as Hammer Films and on television. She was so admired by Spielburg that he specifically cast her as the title character's mother in Saving Private Ryan.

Kathleen Elizabeth Byron (11th January 1921 - 18th January 2009)

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