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Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

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BiggieB
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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 4:34 pm

Wendy - Isn't that an amazing episode! "Alan imbues the mysterious passenger with a weariness and resignation that is perversely compelling", if I may quote myself from the book.

Alan was not a group joiner. He had friends in the ex-pat community, like Brian Aherne, but it wasn't a sine qua non for him. Gladys Cooper was a dear friend, but becasue they had worked together in London, not because of being in a group that always hung out together. But he WAS English, after all (at least until 1952) so a lot of people he knew were part of the group. And he DID enjoy cricket, so that sorta forced him to hang out with C. Aubrey Smith. :)

He and Gip (who had been an actress herself in England, although she was a dental technician here) would have people over for play readings at their home. Some English, some not, but people was had artistic interests beyond the movies.

Boris Karloff was a friend. Val Lewton - not a Brit - a very good friend. Alan gave the eulogy at his funeral.

Alan just liked people in general, but it was Gip who encouraged him to get out more and mingle.

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 4:44 pm

Moira - When Alan left England, he knew he was going for the money. He had poured years into his career on the English stage without becoming rich. His marriage had fallen apart, and he decided to make a new start. He knew that he was leaving the theatre behind. He enjoyed being comfortable and he knew that regular employment in Hollywood would allow him to live very nicely. But it never became stressless. Gip kept working for a long time, and there were thin patches. He had a small inherited income in England, but currency restrictions kept it from being brought to the States, so it would accumulate interest until he and Gip could manage a trip to England, where they could spend it. Alan never had lots of money socked away. Until "Batman"... And then he needed it, because "Batman" was the death knell for his career.

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 4:53 pm

Moira - Alan was at one point hired to be a dialogue director on "This Above All" (this was not unique for him; he was dialogue director for Otoo Preminger on "Forever Amber" too). He got a nasty taste of the "us versus them" attitude that some producers have for actors (unlike his friend Val Lewton) "In the pre-production period, during which I was to advise on all sorts of things (the picture was an English war-time story), the second assistant director, now a big producer [Aaron Rosenberg, Oscar-nominated in 1962 for Mutiny On The Bounty], said to me, 'Look, you're one of us now, not one of them.' meaning the actors, who were to be regarded as cattle - pampered if necessary to bring them to market in good shape but only in proportion to their contribution to the film. The same man later said of Gladys Cooper, who played a not very large part in the film, 'Aw, she used to be someone in London, but nobody gives a s*** for her out here.' because she complained of unnecessarily early calls in the morning. I gritted my teeth and knew on whose side my true loyalty would always lie."

I think he had had enough of the "us versus them" of the English class system to last him a lifetime.

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 5:06 pm

Mongo, or Joe, if I may - Alan was great fun in "House of Horrors", unfortunately murdered too soon. He was quite capable of a Clifton Webb style performance, and he did it more than once.

Alan's favorite movie role was as Dr. Scott in "The Uninvited". His granddaughter loved him in that one too: "The warmth and humor in that part, playing an attractive man his own age, was my Alan." And he got to romance Ruth Hussey, something that rarely happened to him on the screen (really the only other time is in "Three Strangers" where he played love scenes with Marjorie Riordan, but then even Peter Lorre got a girlfriend in that one!).

I have spoken to a number of Alan's co-workers and without exception, they talked about how much fun he was and what a pleasure to work with.

Finally, I should mention apropos of your screen name, Alan was called Mungo as a child by his father and it stuck. Descendants of his childhood friends, who met him in the 1960s, recall that everybody, adults and children, called him Mungo.

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby JackFavell » December 6th, 2015, 5:55 pm

Thank you so much for your visit here, Mr. Bigwood.

This has been one of my favorite discussions here at the SSO! I am eagerly looking forward to reading your book and checking out more Alan Napier roles. I've always been aware of him as a classic film actor, but had no idea how big a career he actually had. I swear he turns up in everything! From now on, when I see him, I will remember how gracious he was.

(He's always been my favorite Batman character. When I was a kid, I pretended Alfred was my dad, and that he had a secret life of crime fighting on his own, outside of the Batman show. I think he'd be pleased.)

Again, thanks!

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby moira finnie » December 6th, 2015, 5:59 pm

I thought it might be fun for people to see a few of the Alan Napier films that are currently available online. This only begins to touch on the actor's diverse 100+ film appearances. As most of us know, we have posted some of the interview clips with the actor created by our guest author earlier in this thread. Below are a few feature films and early television appearances that have been mentioned. If others know of more I hope you will add them.

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
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Four Star Playhouse "The Man on the Train":
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House of Horrors (1946)
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A Scandal in Paris (1946)
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Forever Amber (1946):
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A clip from Macbeth (1948)
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Double Crossbones (1951)
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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby Professional Tourist » December 6th, 2015, 6:02 pm

Yeah, what Jack said, Mr. B. :) I've learned so much this weekend about Alan Napier -- I had no idea. I'd like to read your annotated autobiography. Thank you for being so generous with your time and information. Three cheers! :D

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BiggieB
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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 6:57 pm

Thanks everybody! It's really been a pleasure chatting with all of you. For those of you who decide to buy the book, please post a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever you usually post your reviews. Good, bad or indifferent!

Now that I'm a member here I hope to be chatting with you all again down the road.

Jim

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BiggieB
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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 6:58 pm

Moira - How do I post other video links of Alan?

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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby moira finnie » December 6th, 2015, 7:11 pm

It's been great having you as a guest, Jim. Please come back any time to discuss anything. It would be our pleasure to have you here as a member.

BiggieB wrote:Moira - How do I post other video links of Alan?

If you copy and paste the link into your "Post a Reply" box, look just above the message box.

If the video link is found on youtube, vimeo, or dailymotion, then highlight the link and click on the bar tab above showing the appropriate video sharing site. Then hit preview at the bottom of the box (between save draft and submit). If your video shows up in your preview, all is well and you can then click on submit. If you have any problems, please message or email me and I will be happy to help.
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Re: Q & A with James Bigwood about Alan Napier's Autobiography

Postby BiggieB » December 6th, 2015, 10:08 pm

Here's a few more Alan Napier links. Three television appearances, including his first: as Sherlock Holmes in "The Speckled Band" ("I expect it was terrible - we did the whole show in one day.") "Adventure Island" in which he plays a mad self-proclaimed island despot. This is a black and white print of a movie originally shot in "Cinecolor". Finally, something quite unusual: Alan on stage in 1929 in Noel Coward's "Bitter Sweet". This was shot silent from a single camera position in His Majesty's Theatre in the West End. The sound in this clip is from a 1980s production of the play. Alan is easily visible, due to his height.

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