1960s film star British actress Sarah Miles
It’s safe to say that Sarah Miles was lucky. Debut in the movie at the age of twenty-one and appearance in the same film with Laurence Olivier and Simone Signoret – this happens infrequently. It does not matter that the film itself (“Term of trial” by P. Glenville) is not a masterpiece, and the role is not great. However, everyone who appears next to a figure of the same scale as Olivier, involuntarily draws attention. Indeed, people noticed Sarah Miles, and the newspapers announced the birth of a new “star.”
However, Sarah Miles did not study anywhere. At fifteen she left school and went to London, where she tried many far from art professions. She tried to do ballet, but then she chose to become a dramatic actress. According to her, this was the only area where her chances were not equal to zero. In fact, she attended classes at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but no one knows if she has completed the two-year course.
Shortly before the debut in the movie, Sarah Miles performed on stage in the play “A Dazzling Perspective” in the West End (a district in the center of London, where most of the famous theaters are concentrated). According to the actress, it was one of the last cases in the history of the West End, when the public didn’t throw rotten fruit onto the stage. Fortunately, in 1962, after the release of the “Term of trial”, critics excelled Sarah Miles, drawing brilliant prospects, waiting for a “new star.”
Experience teaches to take the cries of reviewers cautiously, but the debutante was young and enjoyed critical flattery. However, later Miles evaluated her film debut more modestly: “It nearly killed me. I was not a “star” and just started to learn my craft.”
Nevertheless, the excitement around the name of Miles had its reasons. The reason was not in the “brilliant” game of the actress, but in the appearance of a new version of the familiar to the spectator type of “fatal” woman. The youth of the heroine, sincerity, peculiar relaxedness, freedom of manner gave the image a sensational flavor.
The strongest facets of the image were its naturalness and conviction of the heroine in her right. A small, petty little actress groping for her role in the game of life and diligently spreads solitaire from other people’s destinies, disregarding anything. The director and performers of the main roles do everything to make the viewer understand the imminent danger of permissiveness. But why did the critics decide that the screen was lit by Sarah Miles, and not by the magnificent artists Lawrence Olivier and Simone Signoret?
She had the same face that the audience wanted to see, and in all her appearance there was an inexplicable charm. Finally, the female vamp not only suited the tastes of the layman, but also fit perfectly into the canons of drama of the absurd, laying the responsibility for all the adversity on the person herself.
In 1963, Miles starred in three films at once: in “The Ceremony” by L. Harvey, in the Triangle with Six Sides of his brother K. Miles and in The Servant by D. Losey. In the latter, her film debut turned into one of the most important and characteristic roles of the actress. A woman without a biography, Vera is a secondary person in a cruel and strange parable about a young, naive aristocrat and his hypocritical servant. A quiet man, who gradually takes the weak-willed master to his hands, and then imposes his will on him, brings him to moral devastation and falling.
Success in the “Servant” opened for the actress the doors of the National Theater, but after an inadvertent remark on the venerable playwright Noel Coward, Miles had to leave. Her performances in several Westend productions left no trace, and in 1965 Miles agreed to play one of the roles in K. Annakin’s comedy film “These gorgeous guys on their flying machines.”
The actress played here a young aristocrat, in love with an English aviator and full of the desire to uphold the equality of women. The slightly arrogant image of the English aristocrat was a success. Sarah Miles successfully blended into the ensemble, which included such famous artists as Alberto Sordi and Terry-Thomas.
Following the comedy by K. Annakin, the actress returned to the stage, and then starred in Davis’s film “I was happy here.” Despite the award for best female role at the film festival in San Sebastian, Sarah Miles did not attach special importance to this role.
In 1966, she accepted M. Antonioni’s invitation to appear in his English film “Blowup,” but the role was not only small (the artist’s wife), but also uninteresting. Quite unexpectedly, Miles decided to leave her profession: “I was disappointed in myself and at work.” The reasons for the decision of the actress remain unknown until now. In any case, she received roles in accordance with her talents, and the case with “Blowup” was an obvious exception.
Meanwhile, Miles spent about three years on the farm of her husband, the famous playwright Robert Bolt. For about three years she was engaged in horse riding. Finally, at the insistence of her husband, decided to return to the cinema, but a suitable role forced itself to wait. Only in 1971 on the screens there was a film of the well-known director David Leen “Ryan’s Daughter”, on Bolt’s script.
The role of Rosie Ryan is highly significant for Sarah Miles. Each actor, sooner or later, consciously or not, opens his own theme, which determines the decision or even the intonation of most roles. The image of Rosie Ryan confirmed this pattern.
A mixture of romanticism and adventurism, sincerity and falsity, infantilism and hysteria, far-fetched idealism and the omnipotence of instincts – that’s what Rosie Ryan is. The most difficult task arose in the finale, for the heroines of Miles repentance, regret, thoughts about morality, duty and responsibility – things unfamiliar. Naturally, Miles is vain, arrogant … terribly and completely spoiled. However, she is completely true to herself …
An explicit attempt to escape from her role was the participation of the actress in the American film “The Hireling” (1973). The success of the film at the Cannes Film Festival also implied actor’s luck. However, already during the film festival in Moscow, the film by A. Bridges caused opposite judgments. The main claim of critics: the artificiality of the plot.
A certain noble lady comes home from a psychiatric hospital, where she spent months of agony after the death of her husband. Returning home, the heroine can not enter her usual way of life. So there is a figure of a “hired worker” – a chauffeur who helps a sick woman overcome non-contactness with the outside world. As soon as Lady Francis comes “back to normal”, she repels the “hired worker” and his feelings.
Coldly and technically impeccable is the role of Estella in the new version of Charles Dickens’s novel “Great Expectations.” Of course, Sarah Miles can be praised for her courage: Miles plays both the mysterious teenage girl and the adult Estella. Infantile type helped the actress easily overcome the age limits (35 years for such a role in the movie – a lot!). And the adult Estella looks much older than her years. However, it is most logical to imagine that this is not the fault of the actress Sarah Miles, but the miscalculation of the director.
1960s film star British actress Sarah Miles
Noteworthy, thirty-five year-old British actress Sarah Miles became one of the best characteristic actresses of English cinema. Few people managed to convey so authentically and defiantly colorful egocentrism, devastation, conscious amoralism inherent in the part of English youth of the 60s. In her own way, Miles caught the spirit of the times.
Actors of foreign cinema #11, 1976 page 120-126