was considered for an American Academy Award nomination for his portrayal
of Quintus Arrius in 1959's Ben-Hur, but the Best Supporting Actor Oscar
went to another actor in that blockbuster, Hugh Griffith. Around this
same time, Hawkins was one of four rotating stars in the Rank produced
TV series The Four Just Men; the other three were Vittorio de Sica,
Dan Dailey and Richard Conte.
in 1960, it was interesting to see him submit his officer and gentleman
persona to some comic scrutiny in Basil Deardens 'The League of Gentlemen'.
This was a classic british comedy hailing the start of the 1960's. Hawkins
molded himself easily into the role of the ex army officer and it surrounded
a cleverly planned bank heist. He has some superb timing and one of
my favourite scenes is with Nigel Patrick who (having seen an oil painting
in Hawkins house), opens the sequence with,
that your wife'
she dead?' (regretfully)
I regret to say the bitch is still going strong..'
years later in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) he played General Allenby,
again reprising the classic British army figure. A departure a few years
later was as a minister in the epic film Zulu.
underwent cobalt treatment for a secondary condition of the larynx in
1959 whilst filming 'The League of Gentlemen' Afterwards he took voice
coaching and reduced the number of cigarettes he smoked each day from
about sixty to five. However, while filming Guns at Batasi (1964) five
years later his voice began to fail. It was not until Christmas 1965
that he was diagnosed with throat cancer, by which time the only possible
treatment was a total larengectomy.
1966, Hawkins underwent an operation for cancer of the larynx. Though
the operation cost him his voice, publicity releases indicated that
Hawkins was training himself to talk again with an artificial device
and also that he defiantly continued chain-smoking. Hawkins appeared
in films right up until his death, miming the dialogue that was dubbed
in postproduction by either Charles Gray or Robert Rietti.
his next-to-last film Theatre of Blood (1973), he was effectively cast
in a substantial role that required no dialogue whatsoever - something
that the viewer realizes only in retrospect. Ironically, Hawkins' biography
was titled 'Anything for a Quiet Life'. Jack Hawkins was married twice,
to actresses Jessica Tandy and Doreen Lawrence.
for a quiet life' (1973)
films to see:
League of Gentleman (1959)
Ben Hur (1959)
Bridge on the river Kwai (1957)
The Cruel Sea (1953)