Alec Guinness - A man who took refuge within his acting.

by alexanderdavies-99382 | created - 8 months ago | updated - 2 months ago | Public

One of the most versatile actors in British acting history. Alec Guinness shall forever be remembered for his gallery of characters, via film and theatre. He achieved immense success after appearing in a variety of film roles - the Ealing comedies, adaptations of Charles Dickens, Star Wars amongst others. From the early 1960s, the actor began to focus more on the theatre. He was never interested in being regarded as a film star and was determined not to feel intimidated about returning to the stage. To sum up Alec Guinness's ability in general, one of his film directors Ronald Neame stated how Guinness was perfection in terms of theatre and film. In addition, acting presented him with the chance of taking refuge from who he really was.

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1. Oliver Twist (1948)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama

An orphan named Oliver Twist meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Francis L. Sullivan

Votes: 10,441

Alec Guinness is still the definitive Fagin. A highly memorable adaptation that achieves maximum effect in every way.

2. Great Expectations (1946)

Not Rated | 118 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Director: David Lean | Stars: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Tony Wager, Jean Simmons

Votes: 20,605

Only a small role but a good one.

3. The Ladykillers (1955)

Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Crime

91 Metascore

Five oddball criminals planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick | Stars: Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom

Votes: 24,503

Guinness is marvellously ghoulish.

4. The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Approved | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

An altruistic chemist invents a fabric which resists wear and stain as a boon to humanity, but big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick | Stars: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough

Votes: 8,135 | Gross: $0.01M

A classic Ealing film.

5. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Approved | 78 min | Comedy, Crime

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

Director: Charles Crichton | Stars: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass

Votes: 11,645

Perhaps Guinness should have won the Oscar for Best Actor?

6. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Not Rated | 106 min | Comedy, Crime

A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood

Votes: 32,406

Guinness walks away with the whole film.

7. Last Holiday (1950)

Not Rated | 88 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

When a lonely, unappreciated farm equipment salesman discovers he has only a few weeks to live, he withdraws his savings for a final holiday at a "posh" resort.

Director: Henry Cass | Stars: Alec Guinness, Beatrice Campbell, Kay Walsh, Grégoire Aslan

Votes: 1,290

Slight but quite moving comedy/drama.

8. The Promoter (1952)

Approved | 85 min | Comedy

A charming and ambitious young man finds many ways to raise himself through the ranks in business and social standing, some honest, some not quite so. If he can just manage to avoid a ... See full summary »

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Alec Guinness, Glynis Johns, Valerie Hobson, Petula Clark

Votes: 1,103

Highly enjoyable, with great performances.

9. The Horse's Mouth (1958)

Not Rated | 97 min | Comedy

A somewhat vulgar but dedicated painter searches for the perfect realization of his artistic vision, much to the chagrin of others.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan

Votes: 3,080

Guinness is effectively cast against type.

10. The Detective (1954)

Approved | 91 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Works of art are disappearing, stolen by a master thief, a master of disguise. Father Brown has two goals: to catch the thief and to save his soul.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Peter Finch, Cecil Parker

Votes: 1,141

Guinness's performance greatly compensates for a slightly shaky plot.

11. Tunes of Glory (1960)

Not Rated | 106 min | Drama

After World War II, a Highland Regiment's acting Commanding Officer, who rose from the ranks, is replaced by a peace-time Oxford-educated Commanding Officer, leading to a dramatic conflict between the two.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York, Dennis Price

Votes: 3,170

A change of pace for Guinness, he rises to the challenge tremendously.

12. The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Approved | 188 min | Drama, History, War

The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason

Votes: 7,578 | Gross: $4.75M

Film is bland and poorly plotted. Guinness is the only cast member worth seeing.

13. Damn the Defiant! (1962)

Approved | 101 min | Action, Drama, History

On the H.M.S. Defiant, during the French Revolutionary War, fair Captain Crawford is locked in a battle of wills against his cruel second-in-command Lieutenant Scott-Padget, whose heavy-handed command style pushes the crew to mutiny.

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Stars: Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde, Maurice Denham, Nigel Stock

Votes: 2,155

14. Our Man in Havana (1959)

Not Rated | 111 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Jim Wormold, who is a vacuum cleaner salesman, participates as an Agent in the British Secret Service. But he soon realizes that his plans by lying are going to get him into trouble.

Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Alec Guinness, Maureen O'Hara, Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs

Votes: 4,431

Rather long and a bit ponderous but still good.

15. The Comedians (1967)

Approved | 150 min | Drama

A cynical Welsh hotel owner secretly romances a diplomat's wife in Haiti, under the violent reign of the despot "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

Director: Peter Glenville | Stars: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov

Votes: 1,694 | Gross: $5.20M

Quite effective film but the plot is hard to follow and the ending is rushed and disappointing. Guinness takes the acting honours though.

16. Situation Hopeless -- But Not Serious (1965)

Not Rated | 97 min | Comedy, War

During WW2, a lonely German air-raid warden captures two downed American airmen and keeps them prisoner in his basement way past the end of the war.

Director: Gottfried Reinhardt | Stars: Alec Guinness, Mike Connors, Robert Redford, Anita Höfer

Votes: 306

17. The Swan (1956)

Approved | 104 min | Comedy, Romance, Drama

Princess Beatrice's days of enjoying the regal life are numbered unless her only daughter, Princess Alexandra, makes a good impression on a distant cousin when he pays a surprise visit to ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Vidor | Stars: Grace Kelly, Alec Guinness, Louis Jourdan, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 2,119

18. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

90 Metascore

Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.

Director: George Lucas | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness

Votes: 1,142,601 | Gross: $322.74M

The disdain for "Star Wars" began not long after its release.

19. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

PG | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

82 Metascore

After the Rebels are brutally overpowered by the Empire on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader.

Director: Irvin Kershner | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 1,074,006 | Gross: $290.48M

20. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

PG | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

58 Metascore

After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Darth Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap.

Director: Richard Marquand | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 879,078 | Gross: $309.13M

21. Cromwell (1970)

G | 139 min | Biography, Drama, History

Oliver Cromwell can no longer tolerate King Charles' policies, and the self-interest of the ruling class, and leads a civil war to install Parliament as the ultimate ruler of England.

Director: Ken Hughes | Stars: Richard Harris, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley, Dorothy Tutin

Votes: 4,454

Very good as Cromwell in an ordinary film.

22. A Passage to India (1984)

PG | 164 min | Adventure, Drama, History

Cultural mistrust and false accusations doom a friendship in British colonial India between an Indian doctor, an Englishwoman engaged to marry a city magistrate, and an English educator.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox

Votes: 15,848 | Gross: $27.19M

23. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War

87 Metascore

After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British Colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean | Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa

Votes: 189,336 | Gross: $44.91M

Deservedly won the Oscar for Best Actor. Guinness is the one to remember.

24. Malta Story (1953)

97 min | Drama, History, War

In World War II, the island of Malta, strategically located and vital to supply lines in the Mediterranean Sea, is fiercely attacked by the Germans, but staunchly defended by the British.

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst | Stars: Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Steel, Muriel Pavlow

Votes: 1,299

Strictly routine.

25. The Prisoner (1955)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama

A Cardinal is arrested for treason against the state. As a Prince of his church, and a popular hero of this people, for his resistance against the Nazis during the war, and afterward his ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Glenville | Stars: Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Wilfrid Lawson, Kenneth Griffith

Votes: 745

The two leads make this film adaptation work from beginning to end. Quite a disturbing piece.

26. The Mudlark (1950)

Approved | 99 min | Drama

In 1875 London, young Wheeler (who lives by scavenging) finds a cameo of Queen Victoria, which he thinks so beautiful, he risks his life to save it. Possessed of a desire to see the Queen, ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Irene Dunne, Alec Guinness, Andrew Ray, Beatrice Campbell

Votes: 710

27. Hotel Paradiso (1966)

98 min | Comedy

Monsieur Feydeau has writer's block, and he needs a new play. But he takes an opportunity to observe the upper class of 1900 Paris, Monsieur Boniface with a domineering wife, and the ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Glenville | Stars: Gina Lollobrigida, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley, Peggy Mount

Votes: 630

28. All at Sea (1957)

Unrated | 87 min | Comedy

A seasick sea Captain commands an amusement pier despite local opposition.

Director: Charles Frend | Stars: Alec Guinness, Harry Locke, Frederick Piper, Fred Griffiths

Votes: 810

Disappointing for the most part. A good cast gone to waste.

29. The Captain's Paradise (1953)

Approved | 94 min | Comedy, Romance

The Captain of a ferry boat between the restricted British colony in Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco has a woman of differing appeal and temperament in each port.

Director: Anthony Kimmins | Stars: Alec Guinness, Peter Bull, Charles Goldner, Miles Malleson

Votes: 1,376

Not much substance to the story but Guinness keeps one watching.

30. The Scapegoat (1959)

Unrated | 91 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

An English schoolteacher meets his lookalike, a French count; and unwillingly swaps identities with him.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Alec Guinness, Bette Davis, Nicole Maurey, Irene Worth

Votes: 1,534

Confusingly plotted but interesting to see Guinness and Bette Davis share scenes together.

31. A Majority of One (1961)

Approved | 156 min | Comedy, Family, Drama

A gentle love story about a Japanese businessman and widower, and a Brooklyn widow. But before a happy ending can ensue, they must learn again the lessons of tolerance, kindness, and forgiveness.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Rosalind Russell, Alec Guinness, Ray Danton, Madlyn Rhue

Votes: 933

32. The Quiller Memorandum (1966)

Approved | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

In the West Berlin of the 1960s, two British agents are killed by a Nazi group, prompting British Intelligence to dispatch agent Quiller to investigate.

Director: Michael Anderson | Stars: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow, Senta Berger

Votes: 3,142

33. To Paris with Love (1955)

Not Rated | 78 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A middle-aged widower takes his son on a trip to Paris, where they try to find wives for each other.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Alec Guinness, Odile Versois, Vernon Gray, Elina Labourdette

Votes: 359

Dullsville.

34. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Approved | 228 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

100 Metascore

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins

Votes: 248,015 | Gross: $44.82M

35. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

TV-14 | 290 min | Drama, Thriller

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6's echelons.

Stars: Alec Guinness, Michael Jayston, Anthony Bate, George Sewell

Votes: 7,100

Guinness is George Smiley personified.

36. Smiley's People (1982)

360 min | Drama, Mystery

The murder of a Soviet defector forces his old handler, British spymaster George Smiley, out of retirement. His investigation leads to an old nemesis, the Soviet spymaster known only as Karla. This will be their final dance.

Stars: Alec Guinness, Eileen Atkins, Bill Paterson, Vladek Sheybal

Votes: 3,305

37. Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973)

PG | 108 min | Biography, Drama, History

A dramatization based on eye witness accounts of Hitler's final days in an underground bunker, his military henchmen, and his stormy relationship with Eva Braun.

Director: Ennio De Concini | Stars: Alec Guinness, Simon Ward, Adolfo Celi, Diane Cilento

Votes: 1,228

38. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

PG-13 | 197 min | Drama, Romance, War

69 Metascore

The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during World War I and then the October Revolution.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger

Votes: 65,378 | Gross: $111.72M

39. Screen One (1985–2002)

Comedy, Crime, Drama

Anthology of unconnected movies of different genres.

Stars: Geraldine James, Alfred Molina, Mark Chapman, Julie Walters

Votes: 75

40. Edwin (1984 TV Movie)

90 min | Drama

Touching comedy about a high court judge, now retired to his English countryside home, who resolves to end years of suspicion about his wife's fidelity and the true paternity of their son.

Director: Rodney Bennett | Stars: Alec Guinness, Renée Asherson, Paul Rogers

Votes: 65

41. Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)

PG | 121 min | Biography, Drama, History

This is a dramatization of events in the life of St. Francis of Assisi from before his conversion experience through his audience with the pope, including his friendship with St. Clare.

Director: Franco Zeffirelli | Stars: Graham Faulkner, Judi Bowker, Leigh Lawson, Kenneth Cranham

Votes: 3,863

42. Raise the Titanic (1980)

PG | 115 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

To obtain a supply of a rare mineral, a ship raising operation is conducted for the only known source, the R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, David Selby, Anne Archer

Votes: 3,640 | Gross: $14.82M

43. A Handful of Dust (1988)

PG | 118 min | Drama, Romance

The wife's affair and a death in the family hasten the demise of an upper-class English marriage.

Director: Charles Sturridge | Stars: James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Beale, Jackson Kyle

Votes: 1,651 | Gross: $1.56M

44. Little Dorrit (1987)

G | 357 min | Drama, Romance

Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit ... See full summary »

Director: Christine Edzard | Stars: Derek Jacobi, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Max Wall

Votes: 963 | Gross: $1.03M

45. Lovesick (1983)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

A psychiatrist, who falls in love with a patient, is visited by the spirit of Sigmund Freud, who gives him advice on how to handle it.

Director: Marshall Brickman | Stars: Dudley Moore, Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Guinness, Christine Baranski

Votes: 697 | Gross: $10.17M

46. Scrooge (1970)

G | 113 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

58 Metascore

A musical retelling of Charles Dickens' classic novel about an old bitter miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, Kenneth More

Votes: 8,303

47. Murder by Death (1976)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, Mystery, Thriller

62 Metascore

Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.

Director: Robert Moore | Stars: Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan

Votes: 30,824

48. Caesar and Cleopatra (1976 TV Movie)

75 min | Drama

Julius Caesar's arrival in Egypt proves to be more than interesting to the beautiful Cleopatra, ambitious sister to the boy pharaoh.

Director: James Cellan Jones | Stars: Alec Guinness, Geneviève Bujold, Margaret Courtenay, Iain Cuthbertson

Votes: 34

49. Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980 TV Movie)

103 min | Drama, Family, Romance