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Alec Guinness Before Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Doomed D'Ascoynes

Alec Guinness Kind Hearts and Coronets Dennis PriceAlec Guinness: Before Obi-Wan Kenobi, there were the eight D'Ascoyne family members (image: Alec Guiness, Dennis Price in 'Kind Hearts and Coronets')

(See previous post: “Alec Guinness Movies: Pre-Star Wars Career.”) TCM won't be showing The Bridge on the River Kwai on Alec Guinness day, though obviously not because the cable network programmers believe that one four-hour David Lean epic per day should be enough. After all, prior to Lawrence of Arabia TCM will be presenting the three-and-a-half-hour-long Doctor Zhivago (1965), a great-looking but never-ending romantic drama in which Guinness – quite poorly – plays a KGB official. He's slightly less miscast as a mere Englishman – one much too young for the then 32-year-old actor – in Lean's Great Expectations (1946), a movie that fully belongs to boy-loving (in a chaste, fatherly manner) fugitive Finlay Currie.

And finally, make sure to watch Robert Hamer's dark comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), in which Alec Guinness – at his very best – beautifully plays eight characters of various ages, genders, and inclinations. Dennis Price is the film's conniving lead; the leading ladies are Great Expectations' Valerie Hobson (the actual Bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 movie) and the delightful, husky-voiced Joan Greenwood. And make sure to look for Audrey Hepburn in a bit part in Charles Crichton's The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).

Alec Guinness Academy Award nominations

Besides winning the Best Actor Oscar for The Bridge on the River Kwai, Alec Guinness was nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Actor for The Lavender Hill Mob (released in 1952 in the Los Angeles area), and, as Best Supporting Actor, for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) and for Christine Edzard's two-part 1988 release Little Dorritt. Additionally, Guinness received an Honorary Oscar at the 1980 ceremony. It's a crime he wasn't at least nominated for Robert Moore's 1976 spoof Murder by Death.

A curiosity: After being invited to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, Alec Guinness wrote to a friend about it, referring to George Lucas' space opera as “fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps.”

Alec Guinness movies: TCM schedule (PT) on August 3, 2013

3:00 AM GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946). Dir.: David Lean. Cast: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Alec Guinness, Bernard Miles, Jean Simmons, Anthony Wager a.k.a. Tony Wager, Martita Hunt, Finlay Currie, Francis L. Sullivan, Ivor Barnard, Freda Jackson, Eileen Erskine, George Hayes, Torin Thatcher, O.B. Clarence, BW-118 min.

5:15 AM OLIVER TWIST (1948). Dir.: David Lean. Cast: Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, John Howard Davies, Francis L. Sullivan, Henry Stephenson, Mary Clare, Anthony Newley, Josephine Stuart, Ralph Truman, Gibb McLaughlin, Kathleen Harrison, Amy Veness, Frederick Lloyd, Henry Edwards, Ivor Barnard, Maurice Denham, Michael Ripper, Peter Bull, Diana Dors, Fay Middleton, Hattie Jacques, Betty Paul. Black and white. 116 min.

7:15 AM THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (1951). Dir.: Charles Crichton. Cast: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Audrey Hepburn. Black and white. 81 min.

9:00 AM THE LADYKILLERS (1955). Dir.: Alexander Mackendrick. Cast: Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, Katie Johnson, Philip Stainton, Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Connor, Michael Corcoran, Harold Goodwin, Robert Moore. Color. 91 mins. Letterbox Format.

10:45 AM A MAJORITY OF ONE (1961). Dir.: Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Rosalind Russell, Alec Guinness, Ray Danton, Madlyn Rhue, Mae Questel, Marc Marno, Gary Vinson, Sharon Hugueny, Frank Wilcox, Alan Mowbray, Sam Harris, George Takei. Color. 149 mins. Letterbox Format.

1:30 PM DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965). Dir.: David Lean. Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness, Rita Tushingham, Rod Steiger, Siobhan McKenna, Ralph Richardson, Jeffrey Rockland, Tarek Sharif, Bernard Kay, Klaus Kinski, Geoffrey Keen, Adrienne Corri, Jack MacGowran, Roger Maxwell, Peter Madden, Mark Eden, Ingrid Pitt. Color. 200 mins. Letterbox Format.

5:00 PM LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962). Dir.: David Lean. Cast: Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains, Anthony Quayle, Jack Hawkins, José Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Wolfit, John Dimech, Zia Mohyeddin, I.S. Johar, Gamil Ratib, Howard Marion-Crawford, John Barry, Robert Bolt, Barbara Cole, Harry Fowler, Ian MacNaughton, Clive Morton, Daniel Moynihan, George Plimpton. Color. 227 mins. Letterbox Format.

9:00 PM KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949). Dir.: Robert Hamer. Cast: Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Valerie Hobson, Alec Guinness, Miles Malleson, Audrey Fildes, Clive Morton, John Penrose, Cecil Ramage, Hugh Griffith, Eric Messiter, John Salew, Lyn Evans, Barbara Leake, Peggy Ann Clifford, Arthur Lowe, Laurence Naismith, Jeremy Spenser, Richard Wattis, Carol White, Harold Young. Black and white. 106 min.

11:00 PM THE SCAPEGOAT (1959). Dir.: Robert Hamer. Cast: Alec Guinness, Bette Davis, Nicole Maurey. Black and white. 92 mins. Letterbox Format.

1:00 AM HOTEL PARADISO (1966). Dir.: Peter Glenville. Cast: Gina Lollobrigida, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley. Color. 95 mins. Letterbox Format.

Alec Guinness movie schedule via the TCM website. Dennis Price, Alec Guiness Kind Hearts and Coronets image via Doctor Macro

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