Monday, March 28, 2011

Remembering Dirk Bogarde

Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde was born on March 28 1921 in West Hampstead, London, England. His father was art editor Ulric van den Bogaerde and his mother was Margaret Niven a former actress. Dirk attended University College School and later Chelsea College of Art and Design. Bogarde debuted on stage in 1939 as Derek Bogaerde During World War II Dirk served in the Queens Royal Regiment and reached the rank of major. When the war was over his agent renamed him Dirk Bogarde and his good looks was the door that opened for him to start a film career. His first film was with Stewart Granger in “Sin of Esther Waters” (1939) and when Granger dropped out Bogarde took over the lead. He then appeared in “The Blue Lamp” (1950) and it became the most successful British film of the 1950s. In 1954 he became a star with his appearance in “Doctor in the House” (1954). Dirk continued to act on stage and in films. When his Rank contract ended in the ‘60s he decided to leave commercial films and made a number of art house films. Joseph Losey's 'The Servant' (1963), based on the script by Harold Pinter, represented a turning point in Bogarde's artistic career. The actor played a vengeful, malevolent servant to James Fox's bewildered young aristocrat. No one who has seen the film can forget the disturbing pleasure Bogarde takes in cruelly destroying his master. Bogarde went on to make several more films with American expatriate and blacklist victim Losey, "King and Country" (1964), "Modesty Blaise" (1966) and "Accident" (1967). He also starred with Julie Christie in "Darling" (1965) for John Schlesinger. By this time Bogarde was perhaps Britain's most serious international film performer. He had the opportunity to work with the great Italian director, Luchino Visconti, on two films. "The Damned" (1969) is a remarkable study of a family of German industrialists, its psychic disintegration and embrace of Nazism. Bogarde was brilliant as Gustav von Aschenbach, the aging, dying composer in love with a young boy and with beauty itself, in Visconti's extraordinary adaptation of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. Bogarde appeared in only one Euro-western “The Singer Not the Song” (1961). Dirk continued to appear in films until 1990. Bogarde suffered a stroke in 1966 and he died from a heart attack on May 8, 1999 in Chelsea, London, England. Today we remember Dirk Bogarde on what would have been his 90th birthday.

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