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George Baker

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  • George Baker

    I recently obtained seven original British 8 x 10 press stills of George Baker in one of my favourite childhood films “The Moonraker” (filmed in 1957 and released in 1958). Here is one of them, with George as he appeared in the film in his purple Cavalier costume as Anthony, Earl of Dawlish, also known as The Moonraker, thorn in the side of Cromwell and his Roundheads. It’s incredible to think that this photo was taken over sixty years ago now and what a fine, handsome fellow George was in those days.

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    I'm intrigued at this long dialogue scene and half-naked costume test here.

    It goes against Wyler's wish that Americans play Jews and Brits play Romans.


    • #3
      A very interesting screen test, probably shot around 1957. Incredible how they played the scene in one long take without forgetting their lines. It just goes to show what experienced and talented actors they were. Still, it was quite a leap from George Baker and William Russell to Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd. I wonder how many other actors screen tested for the roles at MGM British studios and how many of those tests still exist.


      • #4
        Anthony Quayle's memoir says he was tested for Messala— and that at least fits in Wyler's conceit of the actors' racial segregation.

        Felix Aylmer (who had already played in three big MGM epics) was tested in costume to play the Jewish slave Simonides. But the role was taken from him and given to an American named Sam Jaffe.


        • #5
          Here is another of those vintage press stills. Some members may recognise it as the still that was used in the top left hand corner of the two page spread review of the film in the July, 1958, issue of ABC Film Review.

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          • #6
            And hard to believe he was born on the Black Sea in Bulgaria! (I wonder if our security services ever took an interest in him?)

            Famous for being the first New Number 2 in The Prisoner! I also loved his Wexford!


            • #7
              Yes, he was excellent in all his roles. It’s just a pity that “Nick of the River”, his first television series from 1959, in which he played an officer in the River Police on the Thames, hasn’t survived. I used to watch it every week on ITV, but it’s just a memory now. There would have been stills from it in the TV Times in those days, but I can’t find any stills from it now.


              • #8
                Fine actor... and I recall an interview with Tom Baker (no relation?) who mentioned that George was also a consummate cook, capable of concocting some truly exquisite meals. Clearly a man of many talents.

                For me he will always be the shady villain "Bowler" who got his own spin off series from The Fenn Street Gang.


                • #9
                  I thought George Baker's finest hour was as "Tiberius" in "I Claudius". He was terrific amongst such an esteemed cast!