(Simon Heffer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 10/1/5.)

From the Thirties to the Nineties, we saw so much of John Mills that we took him for granted. There seemed to be a law in the Fifties that no British war film could be made without him. Unlike his contemporaries Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson, he was not known best for his theatrical work, which perhaps also counted against his being esteemed properly.

But his range was enormous. He could play the officer class (Above Us the Waves) or could be below decks (In Which We Serve). He could do comedy (The Black Sheep of Whitehall) or tragedy (Scott of the Antarctic). When you look down his list of works, you realise he was in a significant proportion of the greatest films ever made in this country.


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