Tuesday, 1 September 2015
10 Ingrid Brett / Boulting
Ingrid is here because she caught my eye in an old horror film ( number 2 below ) I was watching recently and I thought it would be interesting to try and follow someone who wasn't a household name.
Ingrid is the daughter of one of the film-making Boulting brothers but sources conflict as to whether it's Roy or John. Even her own website doesn't settle the matter but points more towards John. She was born in the Transvaal in 1947 and brought up by her grandparents for the first 7 years before joining her mother and step-siblings in the UK. From reading her own biographical notes she seems to have grown up feeling abandoned and neglected and doesn't seem to be in close contact with her extended family. She studied ballet for 10 years and did some modelling before trying her hand at acting.
1. The Great St Trinians Robbery ( 1966 )
Ingrid was only an 18-year old uncredited extra in this one so I'm not going to write too much about it.
It was the fourth film in the series coming six years after the third and is the first one filmed in colour. Most of the stars of the earlier films were missing such as Alastair Sim and Joyce Grenfell. The plot has the girls relocated to a new building due to the threat of the comprehensive system ( somehow ) which just happens to be where a gang of train robbers led by Frankie Howerd have stashed their loot. This concern to be topical overrides any attempt at individual characterisation of the girls and they're really just one undifferentiated secondary character in a sixties crime caper. Carole Ann Ford . fresh from her stint as Dr Who's first girl companion, is the most notable of the young actresses involved.
It's not as frightful as 1980's The Wildcats of St Trinians ( covered in the Suzanna Hamilton post ) - little is - but unless you're a big fan of Howerd there's not much reason to try and see it,.
2. The Witches (1966)
This was the one where Ingrid ( for some reason using the surname Brett at this point ) first caught my eye, one of the better Hammer films of the sixties.
Joan Fontane in her last film ( though she died in December 2013 aged 96 ) plays Miss Mayfield , a mentally fragile headteacher taking a role in a village school after being chased out of her mission school in Africa by the local witch doctors. Once installed, a series of strange events convince her that witchery is alive and well in Buckinghamshire too.
Though it owes something to the 1964 non-Hammer film Witchcraft, The Witches precedes both Rosemary's Baby and The Wicker Man in its story of an outsider stumbling into a sinister community. In this case it's greatly enhanced by the sumptuously gorgeous village of Hambledon, Bucks, presenting a wonderful glimpse of rural Britain in the mid-sixties.
The film isn't quite a classic though. It loses focus when Miss Mayfield has a spell in a nursing home , not helped by the offputting presence of Leonard Rossiter in a straight role as the doctor. And it does have a bad case of Talking Killer Syndrome in a scene which telegraphs the eventual resolution. This is actually a bit tame given the engrossing ten minutes of bacchanalia which precede it.
Fontane's expertise is evident throughout and she has good support from Kay Walsh and Alec McGowan as her hosts although the latter's character doesn't make a scrap of sense. There's also small roles for familiar faces like Michelle Dotrice and Bryan Marshall among the villagers.
Although she's crucial to the plot, Ingrid, playing a very tall and mature 14 year old, doesn't have much to do for most of the film. She does come alive in the climax performing a dance in a very tight dress which is certainly worth seeing.
3. The Jokers ( 1967 )
Ingrid's next film means we enter the world of Michael Winner for the first time.
The Jokers is a crime caper cum social satire set in Swinging London and was developed from Winner's own idea. A well to do military officer Michael Tremayne ( Michael Crawford ) is ejected from Sandhurst after deliberately messing up a training exercise and enlists his frustrated brother David ( Oliver Reed ) an ex-army man who's now an interior decorator in a plot to steal the Crown Jewels and then give them back.
If the above hasn't already given the game away the film is a load of tripe. None of the characters have believable motives- who would court a lengthy prison term just to be in the papers for a couple of days ? Crawford and Reed are a highly unlikely pair of siblings. Any attempts at humour fall flat on their face and the whole thing is horribly dated.
The charisma of the two leads keeps it just about watchable and there's good support from stalwarts like Harry Andrews and James Donald . Ingrid plays Crawford's girlfriend Sarah , a brainless Sloane who's just window dressing. Ingrid plays her well enough; she's certainly better than the European girls who play Reed's paramors.
4. Inadmissible Evidence ( 1968 )
5. Kampf Um Rom I & II ( The Last Roman ) ( 1968 / 1969 )
This is really one film but it was released in two instalments in successive years. It was the biggest movie of Ingrid's career and gave her her biggest part but unfortunately turned out to be a turkey.
"Kampf Um Rom" is a German-Italian co-production and is an historical epic set in the sixth century when the Byzantine Emperor Justinian set out to recover the Western half of the empire including the ancient capital itself from the hands of the Ostrogoths. The film departs so widely from the facts it makes Braveheart seem like a work of historical scholarship.
I'm handicapped in discussing it by the fact that I've only seen a version in German ( I'm presuming the Hollywood names spoke English in the original ) . It starts with a power struggle on the death of King Theodoric, between his daughters Amalaswintha ( Honor Blackman ) and Mathaswintha ( Harriet Andersson ) temporarily won by the former. The film's main character, a fictional Roman politician Cephegus ( Laurence Harvey ) seeks to exploit both this situation and his friendship with the notorious Empress Theodora ( Sylvia Koscina ) for his own ends. Orson Welles plays Justinian. Cephegus's plans are complicated when his daughter Julia ( Ingrid ) falls for an heroic Ostrogoth Totila ( Robert Hoffman ) . Beyond that I don't really know what's going on and the critical mauling it received suggests it's not worth fretting about. It also lost a shedload of money at the box office where the public had lost interest in these sword and sandals blockbusters anyway.
It's also hard to rate performances when the voices of the main actors have been dubbed into a strange language though it's still possible to spot that Welles looks completely uninterested in proceedings. The rival princesses convey their enmity well and this is the go to picture to see Honor Blackman topless, when she's murdered in her bath ( in the first film ). Ingrid seems to do OK in a meatier role than her previous films but ultimately it didn't do much for her career.
In fact Ingrid turned her back on film for the next few years as her modelling career took off with an iconic poster for the quintessential sixties boutique Biba and frequent appearances in Vogue ( including cover shots ).
6. The Last Tycoon ( 1976 )
Ingrid returned to film with this one. The credits dishonestly read "introducing Ingrid Boulting " which is only true in the sense it's the first film in which she used her real name.
"The Last Tycoon" is a lavish adptation by Harold Pinter of F Scott Fitzgerald's not quite finished final novel and the film reflects a sense of unfulfilment and lack of closure. Monroe Starr ( Robert de Niro ) is a young film producer in 1930s Hollywood whose track record and reputation as a genius insulate him from having to pay much attention to the concerns of chief mogul Brady ( Robert Mitchum ) . Brady's daughter Cecelia ( Theresa Russell ) is pursuing him but he is too busy chasing a young woman Kathleen ( Ingrid ) who reminds him of his deceased lover. That pursuit and Starr's burgeoning disputes with his writers which lead up to a memorable confrontation with their representative Brimmer ( Jack Nicholson ) form the main narrative spine but the film is generally an impressionistic series of vignettes punctuated by scenes from the current film production starring Tony Curtis and Jeanne Moreau.
It's well made and superbly acted but it's somewhat lacking in emotional heft. It's hard to empathise with any of these privileged characters. It's not one of De Niro's more celebrated roles and he seems too young for it; Starr couldn't have attained such status without a substantial track record. Otherwise he's OK and the support couldn't be better from Mitchum, Nicholson , Donald Pleasence and especially Ray Milland as the lawyer Fleishacker whose baleful presence signifies the end of Starr's invulnerability. Even the normally awful Russell does well here.
Ingrid's cool English reserve suits the part well and she does appear nude ( though not full frontal ) but otherwise it's something of a one-note performance and it's not surprising that she wasn't able to use it as a springboard for a renewed film career.
7. Deadly Passion ( 1985 )
8. Conversations With God ( 2006 )
Ingrid now lives in California where she paints and runs yoga courses. If the photos on her website are recent she's in astonishingly good shape for a 68 year old.