Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Anna Massey, 1937-2011

Just noticed this, after looking at a year-end wrap-up of celebrity deaths: Anna Massey. British actress, died in July. Fans of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom will recall her as Helen, the gawky good girl who is a little too trusting of Mark, the title psychopath. Also starred in Hitchcock's Frenzy. Daughter of Raymond Massey, a Powell regular. (See A Matter of Life and Death, a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven.)

Regarding Michael Powell and Peeping Tom:

He was the most elegant man; he looked the country gentleman. But he was a demon director; he got exactly what he wanted and he never accepted anything that was false. He was intimidating, but he was very observant. That was good, because the more observant the director the better the performance you give. That was a particularly marked learning experience. Peeping Tom was panned beyond belief when it opened, but it’s now become this cult movie. When it was released it wasn’t that long after the Ealing comedies, which were very cosy. Well, Peeping Tom wasn’t cosy; it was very ugly, although it was very well made and had great psychological depth. The film hasn’t changed; it’s people’s perception of it that has changed.

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