John Justin is yet another example of an actor who used the occasional film role to subsidise his theatre work. Indeed, he considered his film career a mistake. Yet there was one film role for which he will always be remembered long after his theatre work has faded from the memory.
He was born John Justinian de Ledesma. His father was an Argentinean who farmed in England. Justin wanted to go on stage from an early age, despite the opposition of his father. He started his career at Plymouth Rep and had a short stint at RADA though he seems to have left because he preferred more practical learning.
His big break in cinema came with The Thief of Bagdad, Alexander Korda's troubled epic. Despite the production problems the film turned out to be a classic and Justin's performance as the handsome hero contributed hugely to its success.
Korda signed him to a seven-year contract but the war and his lack of interest in cinema (he joined the RAF), meant he only made occasional guest appearances. He re-established his film career with Lean's The Sound Barrier and made a series of largely indifferent films. He even got himself a film star wife, Barbara Murrey (the second of three marriages).
But it was the stage he returned to time and again. He did seasons at Stratford and The Old Vic, and was particularly associated with the Regent's Park open air theatre.
|1940||The Thief of Bagdad|
|1943||The Gentle Sex|
|1948||Call of the Blood|
|1950||The Angel With the Trumpet|
|1952||The Sound Barrier|
|1953||King of the Khyber Rifles|
|1954||Seagulls over Sorento|
|1954||The Teckman Mystery|
|1955||The Man Who Loved Redheads|
|1956||Island in the Sun|
|1962||The Golden Salamander|
|1965||Les Hommes Veluent|
|1978||The Big Sleep|
John Justin at Amazon UK
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