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 Post subject: Richard Johnson (1927 - 2015)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:26 am 
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Prince Judah
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Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:18 am
Posts: 1360
I just found out - thanks to James Byrne, who posted on this elsewhere
in the Forums - that Richard Johnson died about a week ago, on June 6th,
the day before Christopher Lee. For some reason, I didn't read about this elsewhere
and would have missed it if not for the note by Byrne here in the Forums...

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 Post subject: Re: Richard Johnson (1927 - 2015)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:02 am 
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Prince Judah
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I've always been a fan of Richard Johnson - he projected this British integrity, an assured demeanor and, when he got older, a deft approach to all his characters. He was like a combination of Sean Connery and Nigel Davenport - at once a leading man but also a fine character actor. I read that he declined the role of James Bond (along with a select group of other actors) in Dr. No, and I think he would have been very similar to Connery in the role, perhaps a little less amused.

He was mostly on stage in the fifties and did a little bit of TV and bit parts on film. His first big role in film was in Never So Few (1959), the Frank Sinatra war film which also featured Steve McQueen in an early big part. Johnson had his big film successes in the mid-sixties: The Haunting (1963), the horror film about a haunted house, in which he was the scientific investigator; the drama The Pumpkin Eater (64); planning Britain's defense in WWII in the big Operation:Crossbow (65); and supporting Charlton Heston as a colonel in the Sudan in Khartoum (1966). Though Johnson was not the A-list star, often part of an ensemble of actors, I always got the sense that he could be. He was always solid and projected a fair amount of charisma.
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As it happened, his best roles - in my view - were as the secret agents that he had avoided in the early sixties: he played essentially a version of James Bond in Deadlier Than the Male (1967) as Drummond, an insurance investigator who ends up confronting a group of Bond-like villains; this was unusual and colorful, spawning a Bond-type sequel, Some Girls Do (69), involving female robots (a very popular concept in those days). He played another secret agent in Danger Route (67). Like Christopher Lee, he was part of the large ensemble in Heston's Julius Caesar (1970), and it was there that he may have impressed me even more - he was obviously very adept at Shakespearean roles.

Johnson's career went into decline in the seventies and, by the end of that decade, he was appearing in cheap Italian horror & monster films - Island of the Fishmen, The Great Alligator, and the infamous Zombie or Zombi 2 from Lucio Fulci. But, he continued in various roles - he was eventually reunited with Heston in A Man For All Seasons (TV-1988), Treasure Island (TV-1990) and Crucifer of Blood (TV-91 as Watson to Heston's Sherlock Holmes). Like Christopher Lee, Johnson co-starred with Heston in more films than the average actor. In fact, he ties with James Coburn in appearing in the most films - 5 - with Heston. I may be guessing here, but I think Heston admired Johnson's acting ability - and why wouldn't he? R.I.P.


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