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Steven Berkoff early film


 

 
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From clockwork orange to rambo: "Films have transported me to many lands, but then I have usually been a passenger on someone else's carpet"

Berkoff acts in films, television and advertisements to subsidise his theatre work. He is usually typecast as the villain. His performances in the roles are professional and enjoyable (Rambo) and where he is allowed to play other characters (Revolution) he excels.  After Beverly Hills Cop Berkoff could have cultivated a lucrative career in films.  But he had little interest in such films other than subsidising his theatre work.    The cinema's loss is our gain.

Berkoff´s character Harry in his short story Agent (from Graft) says "most films had little space for such quixotic creatures as actors. Characters were now divided into two archetypes in the Hollywood lexicon; ´good guys´ or ´bad guys´...everything is reduced to primary colours...as Shakespeare's weapon was verse, the film's weapon was the gun. It would severely strain their imagination to make a film without one".

Berkoff started films uncredited in bit parts, often non-speaking in the background.

The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw

A cowboy comedy with Kenneth More as a Brit who ends up as sheriff in the town Fractured Jaw, as lame as it sounds. Berkoff has a bit part.  Says Berkoff "There I was watching Jayne Mansfield go through her paces with Kenneth More; she was fascinating to watch as she was choreographed by her dance coach and singing her song. I was amazed as I heard the rich sound rumble through the set and saw her miming to the soundtrack" (from Free Association).  In Tales from an Actor's Life Berkoff suggests he was paid for £5 as an extra.  Connie Francis was the singer who dubbed Jane Mansfield's songs.  Directed by Raoul Walsh in 1958.

 

I was montys double I Was Monty's Double

A second world war drama about an actor playing the role of a decoy for British army leader Montgomery. An enjoyable lightweight piece, typical of British post-war films, with John Mills starring and Clifton James as Monty and the double.  One of Berkoff´s earliest appearances in film, a tiny shot as one of the soldiers when Monty inspects the troops.  Directed in 1958 by John Guillermin.

 

The Captains Table The Captain's Table

A comedy about a captain of a tug boat who takes over a luxury liner. He soon discovers the passengers are the real problem.  A predictable British comedy, lots of women who want to hook the captain, and a range of stereotype vicars and majors.  Berkoff and Oliver Reed are extras hidden somewhere in the depths of the ship.  Directed by Jack Lee in 1959.

 

The Devils Disciple The Devil's Disciple

A George Bernard Shaw play filmed with Olivier, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.  The setting is New England as the Americans fight for freedom against the British. Olivier is of course the British officer "Since we can't hang you, perhaps you will care to have tea with me". Lancaster is a preacher and Douglas, the Devil's Disciple, rebels against everything. Eventually Douglas takes the place on the gallows of Lancaster- there are a lot of hangings- "hanging is one way to achieve fame without ability". Not a bad film.  Says Berkoff "I was vaguely in some crowd, but watched the astounding Burt Lancaster cycle home after work" (from Free Association). The Berkoff scene features Lancaster but not Olivier.  Directed by Bond man Guy Hamilton in 1959.

 

The Flesh and the Fiends with Peter Cushing The Flesh and the Fiends

A Peter Cushing horror film based on the Edinburgh grave robbers Burke and Hare.   Peter Cushing´s benign character comes over even when playing a (sort of) villain.  Donald Pleasance is good in a leading role as the killer Hare.  It was his 22nd film, he would make another 166 films.  Samuel Beckett actress Billie Whitelaw brings subtlety to a cliché role, the tart with a heart of gold.  She of course becomes a victim to Burke and Hare.  More than 30 years later she would appear again with Berkoff in The Krays.  Berkoff, front right, has a bit role as a student listening to Cushing lecture.  He is on screen for a few seconds only.  Directed by John Gilling in 1959.

Steven Berkoff in The Flesh and the Fiends

 

 

Konga Konga

A cheap King Kong copy- in Delinquent Berkoff says as a child he recalled being deeply impressed by King Kong.  A bit part for Berkoff playing a student- though for once he is upper-class.  Actor Jess Conrad would later appear with Berkoff in Absolute Beginners.  Directed by Jack Lemont in 1960.  The film does get very silly.

Steven Berkoff in Konga

Steven Berkoff in Konga

Konga

 

 

Prehistoric Women Prehistoric Women
also known as Slave Girls

An early bit part for Berkoff in a Hammer Amazon women film. A hunter stumbles on a prehistoric civilisation where the black haired women ruled the blonde girls (Slave Girls) and the men are kept imprisoned in a cave.  The white rhino is their god, and there are actually good images of the rhino as carvings, a statue, masks and live. But of course the film is mainly about girls in fur lined bikinis.

Steven Berkoff in Prehistoric Women

A young Berkoff on the right

Berkoff misses the girls. At the very end, back in the twentieth century, he has a negligible bit part introducing the hero to a visitor, who turns out to be a reincarnated cave girl the hero had fallen in love with.  Directed by Michael Carreras in 1967. The film was a cheapie, using the same sets as 1,000,000 years BC.

 

Vendetta for the Saint Vendetta for the Saint

Roger Moore as the Saint in a full length cinema story, but there is no more depth than in the shorter television episodes.  The Saint tangles with the Mafia, as a Don dies and they seek a successor. Moore discovers one successor has a secret he wants the Mafia never to find out.

Berkoff in Vendetta for the Saint Berkoff in Vendetta for the Saint

Berkoff (left in both photos) is an Italian henchman, with dark glasses and fake Italian waiter accent.  He plants a bomb in the Saint's car, but the Saint spots it and jumps seconds before it explodes.  Directed by John O´Connolly in 1969.

 

 

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