erik lundegaard

Thursday March 17, 2011

Michael Gough (1916-2011)

Michael Gough, as Alfred Pennysworth, is one of only two actors (Pat Hingle is the other) who appeared in all four Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher “Batman” movies, and the only actor to acquit himself in the fourth and eternally wretched “Batman & Robin.” “His conversations with George Clooney’s Bruce Wayne,” I wrote a few years back, “are just this side of touching.”

Let's not forget he also appeared in “The Man in the White Suit,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “The Dresser,” and “Out of Africa.” Tim Burton kept using him, too. He appeared in “Sleepy Hollow” and his voice was heard in both “Corpse Bride” and “Alice in Wonderland.” He played Sir Anthony Eden, Bertrand Russell, and Leo Tolstoy. He won a lead-actor Tony in 1979 for “Bedroom Farce.” IMDb lists 241 credits. He was married four times. Not sure which is more impressive.

Here's Bowsley Crowther on Gough in “The Man in the White Suit”:

In the roles of conventional mill owners, Cecil Parker and Michael Gough give vastly amusing representations of stuffy confusion and bleak despair...

Here's Frank Rich on Gough in the 1987 play, “Breaking the Code,” about Alan Turing:

Even more impressive is Michael Gough as Dillwyn Knox, Turing's silver-haired, bespectacled, by-the-book wartime superior. Mr. Gough, like Michael Bryant and Michael Gambon, is one of those remarkable English character actors who should be much better known to American audiences. There is fine, supple Chekhovian detail to his every small gesture, from his slow-dawning owlish smiles to the buttoning of his ill-fitting tweed jacket to the revealing tentativeness with which he fingers through a personnel file.

I keep thinking about that birthdate. Born into a world at war, he was 23 when the world went to war again. I assume he went, too.

Movies began to talk when he was 10. The bomb fell when he was 29. In his 30s, television appeared and the British Empire disappeared. He was 53 when we landed on the moon. He was 73 when he played Alfred Pennysworth and I saw him for the first time.

Rest in peace.

Michael Gough and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989)

Posted at 01:31 PM on Thursday March 17, 2011 in category Batman  
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