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Tonight's FNatM is by chingchongchinaman.

This past Saturday, Susannah Yolande Fletcher died at age 72, 6 days after her birthday.  If her name doesn't immediately ring a bell, that's because she's better known as Susannah York, the British actress who got her start during the swinging 1960's, went through her share of ups and downs, and pretty much finished her career focused on theatre work in the UK.  Her work outside of acting involved campaigning for various liberal causes, including nuclear disarmament.  In fact, in one particular instance noted in all the tributes, her acting and her activism dovetailed.  More below the flip....

You can read various tributes to Susannah York from:
(a) Ben Quinn, The Guardian
(b) Michael Billington, The Guardian
(c) David Thomson, The Guardian's film blog
(d) Tom Vallance, The Independent
(e) Telegraph
(f) Margalit Fox, NYT

Ben Walters has some selected video clips of Susannah York's work here, from Tom Jones, The Killing of Sister George, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Images, and The Maids.  To avoid redundancy, I searched for some other selections, such as these clips from:

(1) We'll Meet Again (London Weekend Television series, set in WWII):

(ii) Jane Eyre (the audio is out of sync with the video, FYI):

(iii) The Loves of Shakespeare's Women, her one-woman show:

I mentioned that at one particular point, work and politics combined.  It was as follows, as remembered by Billington:

"If she used her star-power, it was purely to promote causes in which she believed. One was that of Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli dissident who was imprisoned in 1986 for revealing his country's nuclear weapons programme. In 1984 she also produced, at the Apollo, Victoria, The Big One: A Variety Show for Peace, which featured U2 and the premiere of a Harold Pinter sketch, Precisely, and which was driven by her anti-nuclear beliefs."

Going back to that clip from her one-woman Shakespeare show, this is the dovetail moment, as noted by Thomson:

"York showed the rebellious streak that was a feature of her life when, performing The Loves of Shakespeare's Women in Tel Aviv in 2007, she dedicated the performance to Vanunu."

Vallance noted that at that performance, York received "cheers and jeers."

Over the course of his prison terms, Vanunu kept a correspondence with York, as reported here in The Guardian in 2004.  York gave her impressions of him and his situation at the end of that article:

"I became involved in the Mordechai Vanunu campaign about 12 years ago when I read his poem 'I Am Your Spy' at a benefit for him in London which came about because of my involvement in the peace movement. The poem explained how he was just a cog in a vast machine.

We started corresponding - I am one of very many people around the world who has been writing to and receiving letters from Mordechai over the years.

People ask me what I feel about him. I like him, I like this man. You feel that here is a hero for our times. Inside this interesting grown-up man there is also a child that believes in faith and hope and charity.

I gradually became part of the campaign and then eventually a trustee and this is my third visit to Israel on Mordechai Vanunu business. This is obviously the most important and the most joyful of the visits.

I am going to be back in Bristol on Friday doing a concert for Mordechai and for Shakespeare's birth and it is good to welcome him back to the world."

I will confess that I haven't seen very many of her films, only 7 or so, from scanning IMDB, mainly the 60's British selections (naturally).  The one that I did see on a big screen was the re-release in the early 1990s of Tom Jones (where Tony Richardson had trimmed some footage for the re-release).  This was her big breakout film, but as it turned out, it took some doing for her to wind up in the film, again per Billington:

"In fact, York later revealed that she had turned the part down three times and only guiltily accepted it after cooking a disastrously inept lunch for the determined director."

On some occasions, then, bad cuisine has good results.  She summed herself up in 1991, quoted to close the NYT obit:

"Hard-working character actress who longs to play drunks and nasties. Can also do comedy, she's been told."

So a small salute to Susannah York here on DK.  With that, the film forum below is yours, for films you've seen lately, or comments on the Golden Globes, etc....

Originally posted to Friday Night at the Movies on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 08:57 PM PST.

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