September 14, 2010

Unforgettable: Part III

Part three of my series devoted to memorable and favorite character actors from over the years.

Greenwood in a photo from Picture Show Annual, 1952

This is an actress I first noticed on the British sitcom, “Girls on Top” (1985-1986) - a sort of all-female version of "The Young Ones" which was created by and starred Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Joan played Lady Chloe Carlton, the bizarre landlady to the four main female characters. Lady Carlton was a romance novelist who appeared to live in her own world and was kept company by her beloved and stuffed pet dog. The thing that struck me the most about her was her smoky voice and slow articulation - very reminiscent of Carrie Nye (who, in my opinion, has The Greatest Voice of All Time). I did some further research on Joan and discovered that she was in a film that I absolutely adored; Ealing Studios’ 1949 revenge comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets. I rewatched the film specifically to see her and was captivated by her feline beauty and, again, by that voice - sly and throaty with each line spoken through precise and perfect enunciation. Cult film fans may recognize her voice as The Great Tyrant, Black Queen of Sogo in Barbarella (1968). Greenwood, for whatever reason, was chosen to dub actress Anita Pallenberg. Although there is speculation as to whether or not it actually is Greenwood (since the voice over is uncredited), I can totally hear Ms. Greenwood when The Great Tyrant purrs such lines as, “Do you want to come and play with me? For someone like you I charge nothing. You’re very pretty, Pretty-Pretty.” Other film roles of note include another Ealing Studios’ comedy, The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), Mysterious Island (1961) and Tom Jones (1963). A quiet, secret beauty who always appeared to have a slightly devilish gleam in her eye has been a mainstay on my list of favorites for years. Give yourself a treat and seek out her work. You won’t be disappointed.