Patrick Barr

The article on Patrick Barr was published in the January 30th 1954 edition of TV Mirror and was very kindly sent in to me by Geoff Waite. It sketches in his career up until that time and includes this excellent photo of him as King Richard.

Strong man of TV

"He appears on screen as a quiet purposeful hero. The stolid policeman type. Or the ‘stiff-upper -lip’ Army officer. Or as Philip Chance, upholder of the right in ‘The Teckman Biography.’

Off screen- and at home, Patrick Barr is much the same. He is one of those people who give the impression that they were born to success. This is probably due to his self confidence, which would have carried him a long way in any walk of life.

Surprising that this self confidence has survived undamaged, considering the knocks he has taken.

Patrick Barr was born in Akola, India, forty-five years ago. His father was a judge. At the age of five he was sent to London to begin his education. By the time he had left Radley School for Oxford he had developed the looks and vigour which have largely survived to this day. His physique was largely responsible for gaining him a place in both the university and rowing teams.

As a boxer, he fought a draw against the Army middleweight champion of the day-not so bad for an amateur. But he was undecided about a career-the urge to act was yet to come.

Became a film “Extra”

Leaving Oxford he surprised his fellow graduates by going to work as a labourer. He joined a big engineering works, intending to start at the bottom and work his way up. This lasted for a year, by which time promotion seemed as remote as ever. The problem was solved for him when a slump forced his firm out of business.

So Patrick Barr decided to become an actor. It was about 1930, when the film industry was still enjoying a boom stimulated by talking pictures. Young and confident, he presented himself at the studios. He was hired as an extra-much to his surprise.

Crowd work in films has sapped the ambition of many an aspiring actor or actress. There is the hope, the chance in a thousand, that the director will notice your face and give you the speaking part that can be a passport to stardom. But what a hope!

New York Success

For two years Patrick Barr persisted. He was one face in a crowd, hoping. But nobody-star, director, or audience-picked him out. By then he was getting very old, twenty-four! And he had three wasted years behind him.

It seemed that his theories about working his way to the top had gone wrong. So he set off along another road, towards the stage. Now he had more success, for in 1932 he made his debut at the Royal Theatre. His first stage part did little more than qualify him for several others. He appeared in a succession of seven plays in London, improving with each one. Suddenly he decided it was time to cross the Atlantic. His idea was to conquer the American stage.

On Broadway, New York, producers turned him down flat! And for the first time young Barr was hungry. Looking back, he recalls: “I managed to get more broke than I thought possible.”

But the crisis passed. Fortune smiled on Patrick Barr and he won a co-starring role with Constance Cummings already a big name in America –in a Broadway play. Inspired by this success, he returned to the London stage and steadily built a reputation in the West End. He became something of a name. And the film industry who rejected him as an unknown, sought his services.

Star Quality

The films Patrick Barr made at this period were far from masterpieces. They were for the most part ‘quickies;’ films made to cash in on the regulations that required cinemas to show a proportion of British pictures in their programmes. Some were turned out by American companies operating in this country. It was in one of these, ‘Cavalier of the Streets,’ that Patrick Barr earned some measure of success as a film star. His talent dominated an otherwise mediocre picture and turned it into a box office success.

Then the war brought that phase of his career to a close. After the war, like so many others, he found he had to re-establish himself in his profession.

Famous Films
But in the last two or three years his career has justified its promise. He has an impressive list of film roles, including parts in ‘The Lavender Hill Mob,‘The Story of Robin Hood’ (where his good looks and fine build earned him the part of Richard the Lion Heart), ‘Single-Handed,’ and ‘The Intruder.’
Lately [1954] he has concentrated more and more on TV. Last year he was in ‘Two Dozen Red Roses,’ and ‘The Three Hostages.’ This year apart from the present serial, the future is an unknown quantity.
But it looks as if we shall be seeing a good deal more of him [1954]. We hope so."
By David Leader


Clement of the Glen said...

Patrick Barr by David Leader

The January 30th 1954 edition of TV Mirror

Many thanks to Geoff Waite

Neil said...

As a child in the fifties I remember Patrick Barr being in a number of the BBC 6 part serials on TV - one being the Teckman Biography - which was a Francis Durbridge thriller. He must have made many TV appearances during this period always in drama I think. Another actor of that time who seemed to be in similar TV drama was Tony Britton. Patrick Barr fitted the part of King Richard perfectly in this film - I thought he had played the role again but I was wrong though he was in the Richard Greene TV Robin Hood later. He apparently was also an outstanding stage actor. He won the Croix de Guerre for his wartime exploits with the French army. Also he was in another of my favourite films ' The Blue Lagoon' made in 1949 (Jean Simmons) although I hadnt realised until I looked it up. Very good character actor.

Avalon said...

One really has to have drive to become an actor. I could never, but would never want to.

Interesting post as always. Perfect Lionheart.

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