Peggy Ashcroft


Strong as Jackson and Finch are in this film, after many viewings I still can't get over how consummately Peggy Ashcroft steals her one scene as Alex's aristocratic yet sardonic mother. Every nuance of this brief cameo is perfectly placed, down to the way she lights her cigarette.

Am I making too much of this?




There, daddy, do I get a gold star?

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No! You are not making too much of this! Yes you get a gold star!

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Peggy Ashcroft was a really wonderful actress; it's a shame she didn't do more films. I particularly love her performance in A Passage to India. A bit underused here but as you say very effective in her brief screen time.

"Haven't they replaced you with a coin-operated machine yet?"

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Agree your comments.
Remember Dame Peggy in 55 Days at Peking, with Robert Helpman? One of her best roles I feel.

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^

No, no. No! That was Flora Robson!

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Agreed, she was super. A little more time and she would have been a cinch for an Oscar nomination at least. Edith Evans and Thora Hird would have been all kinds of wrong for this role, and the latter would have been especially badly miscast. Ashcroft combined wisdom, compassion, weariness, and a formidable sense of intelligence in just a few minutes.

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I always wished she had more scenes, as well. Not only as a fan, but I would have liked to see a litle more of a story-line between Alex and her mother. She seemed like a person who has been through a lot and would have a lot to say. Definitely help her daughter with a much-needed advice.

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From Penelope Gilliatt's essay on the making of the film:

We rehearsed the scene, an end-of-dinner scene, in Dame Peggy’s house. She knew her lines from the beginning, and concentrated on experimenting with her moves around the seated Alex, alone with her: when to stand behind her, when to lift the weight off her by some family normality with an after-dinner chocolate. With the precision of this great actress, she found the exactness that was needed.
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2524-making-sunday-bloody-sunday

"All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people."

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