Margaret Lockwood, 1945
Margaret Mary Day Lockwood
15 September 1916
|Died||15 July 1990 (aged 73)|
(m. 1937; div. 1949)
Margaret Lockwood, CBE (15 September 1916 - 15 July 1990), was an English actress. One of Britain's most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, her film appearances included The Lady Vanishes (1938), Night Train to Munich (1940), The Man in Grey (1943), and The Wicked Lady (1945). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress for the 1955 film Cast a Dark Shadow. She also starred in the television series Justice (1971-74).
Margaret Mary Day Lockwood was born on 15 September 1916 in Karachi, British India, to Henry Francis Lockwood, an English administrator of a railway company, and his Scottish third wife Margaret Eveline Waugh. She returned to England in 1920 with her mother, brother 'Lyn' and half-brother Frank, and a further half-sister 'Fay' joined them the following year, but her father remained in Karachi, visiting them infrequently. She also had another half-brother, John, from her father's first marriage, brought up by his mother in Britain. Lockwood attended Sydenham High School for girls, and a ladies' school in Kensington, London.
She began studying for the stage at an early age at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, and made her debut in 1928, at the age of 12, at the Holborn Empire where she played a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In December of the following year, she appeared at the Scala Theatre in the pantomime The Babes in the Wood. In 1932 she appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Cavalcade.
In 1933, Lockwood enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she was seen by a talent scout and signed to a contract. In June 1934 she played Myrtle in House on Fire at the Queen's Theatre, and on 22 August 1934 appeared as Margaret Hamilton in Gertrude Jenning's play Family Affairs when it premiered at the Ambassadors Theatre; Helene Ferber in Repayment at the Arts Theatre in January 1936; Trixie Drew in Henry Bernard's play Miss Smith at the Duke of York's Theatre in July 1936; and back at the Queen's in July 1937 as Ann Harlow in Ann's Lapse.
Lockwood entered films in 1934, and in 1935 she appeared in the film version of Lorna Doone. For this, British Lion put her under contract for £500 a year for the first year, going up to £750 a year for the second year.
For British Lion she was in The Case of Gabriel Perry (1935), then was in Honours Easy (1935) with Greta Nissen and Man of the Moment (1935) with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. These were standard ingénue roles. She was the female love interest in Midshipman Easy (1935), directed by Carol Reed, who would become crucial to Lockwood's career. She had the lead in Someday (1935), a quota quickie directed by Michael Powell and in Jury's Evidence (1936), directed by Ralph Ince.
Gaumont British were making a film version of the novel Doctor Syn, starring George Arliss and Anna Lee with director Roy William Neill and producer Edward Black. Lee dropped out and was replaced by Lockwood. Lockwood so impressed the studio with her performance - particularly Black, who became a champion of hers - she signed a three-year contract with Gainsborough Pictures in June 1937. This was at £4,000 a year.
Lockwood then had her best chance to-date, being given the lead in Bank Holiday, directed by Carol Reed and produced by Black. This movie was a hit and launched Lockwood as a star. She called it "my first really big picture... with a beautifully written script and a wonderful part for me." Gaumont increased her contract from three years to six.
Even more popular was her next movie, The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, produced by Black and co-starring Michael Redgrave. Lockwood called it "one of the films I have enjoyed most in all my career." Hitchcock was greatly impressed by Lockwood, telling the press:
She has an undoubted gift in expressing her beauty in terms of emotion, which is exceptionally well suited to the camera. Allied to this is the fact that she photographs more than normally easily, and has an extraordinary insight in getting the feel of her lines, to live within them, so to speak, as long as the duration of the picture lasts. It is not too much to expect that, in Margaret Lockwood, the British picture industry has a possibility of developing a star of hitherto un-anticipated possibilities.
She followed this with A Girl Must Live, a musical comedy about chorus girls for Black and Reed. It was one of a series of films made by Gaumont aimed at the US market. According to Filmink Lockwood's "speciality [now] was playing a bright young thing who got up to mischief, usually by accident rather than design, and she often got to drive the action."
Gaumont British had distribution agreements with 20th Century Fox in the US and they expressed an interest in borrowing Lockwood for some films. She travelled to Los Angeles and was put to work supporting Shirley Temple in Susannah of the Mounties (1939), set in Canada, opposite Randolph Scott. She was borrowed by Paramount for Rulers of the Sea (1939), with Will Fyffe and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Paramount indicated a desire to use Lockwood in more films but she decided to go home.
Lockwood returned to Britain in June 1939. She was meant to make film versions of Rob Roy and The Blue Lagoon but both projects were cancelled with the advent of war. Instead, she played the role of Jenny Sunley, the self-centred, frivolous wife of Michael Redgrave's character in The Stars Look Down for Carol Reed. Lockwood later admitted "I was far from being reconciled to my role of the unpleasant girl and everyone treated me warily. But as the film progressed I found myself working with Carol Reed and Michael Redgrave again and gradually I was fascinated to see what I could put into the part."
She did another with Reed, Night Train to Munich (1940), an attempt to repeat the success of The Lady Vanishes with the same screenwriters (Launder and Gilliat) and characters of Charters and Caldicott. Rex Harrison was the male star. This started filming in November 1939.
She was meant to be reunited with Reed and Redgrave in Girl in the News (1940) but Redgrave dropped out and was replaced by Barry K. Barnes: Black produced and Sidney Gilliat wrote the script. Quiet Wedding (1941) was a comedy directed by Anthony Asquith. She was meant to appear in Hatter's Castle but fell pregnant and had to drop out. Her return to acting was Alibi (1942), a thriller which she called "anything but a success... a bad film."
In September 1943 Variety estimated her salary at being US $24,000 per picture.
Lockwood was well established as a middle-tier name. What made her a front rank star was The Man in Grey (1943), the first of what would be known as the Gainsborough melodramas. Lockwood wanted to play the part of Clarissa but producer Edward Black cast her as the villainous Hesther. She was featured alongside Phyllis Calvert, James Mason and Stewart Granger for director Leslie Arliss. The film was a massive hit, one of the biggest in 1943 Britain, and made all four lead actors into top stars - at the end of the year, exhibitors voted Lockwood the seventh most popular British star at the box office.
She appeared in two comedies for Black: Dear Octopus (1943) with Michael Wilding from a play by Dodie Smith, which Lockwood felt was a backward step and Give Us the Moon (1944), with Vic Oliver directed by Val Guest. Much more popular than either of these was another melodrama with Arliss and Granger, Love Story (1944), where she played a terminally ill pianist.
Lockwood was reunited with James Mason in A Place of One's Own (1945), playing a housekeeper possessed by the spirit of a dead girl, but the film was not a success. I'll Be Your Sweetheart (1945) was a musical with Guest and Vic Oliver.
Lockwood had the biggest success of her career to-date with the title role in The Wicked Lady (1945), opposite Mason and Michael Rennie for director Arliss. The film was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1946. In 1946, Lockwood gained the Daily Mail National Film Awards First Prize for most popular British film actress. However she was soon to suffer what has been called "a cold streak of poor films which few other stars have endured."
She was offered the role of Bianca in The Magic Bow but disliked the part and turned it down. Instead she was a murderess in Bedelia (1946), which did not perform as well, although it was popular in Britain.
In July 1946, Lockwood signed a six-year contract with Rank to make two movies a year. The first of these was Hungry Hill (1947), an expensive adaptation of the novel by Daphne du Maurier which was not the expected success at the box office.
More popular was Jassy (1947), the seventh biggest hit at the British box office in 1947. It was the last of "official" Gainsborough melodramas - the studio had come under the control of J. Arthur Rank who disliked the genre.
She was a warden in The White Unicorn (1947), a melodrama from the team of Harold Huth and John Corfield. Rank wanted to star her in a film about Mary Magdalene but Lockwood was unhappy with the script. She refused to appear in Roses for Her Pillow (which became Once Upon a Dream) and was put on suspension. "I was sick of getting mediocre parts and poor scripts," she later wrote. "Since 1945 I had been sick of it... there had been little or no improvement to me in the films I was being offered." She later said "I was having fun being a rebel."
During her suspension she went on a publicity tour for Rank.</ref>Lockwood p 138-139</ref> She also appeared in an acclaimed TV production of Pygmalion (1948). then went off suspension when she made a comedy for Corfield and Huth, Look Before You Love (1948).
Lockwood had a change of pace with the comedy Cardboard Cavalier (1949), with Lockwood playing Nell Gwyn opposite Sid Field. The film was a critical and box office disappointment. "I was terribly distressed when I read the press notices of the film", wrote Lockwood.
Lockwood was in another melodrama, Madness of the Heart (1949), but the film was not a particular success. When a proposed film about Elisabeth of Austria was cancelled she returned to the stage in a record-breaking national tour of Noël Coward's Private Lives (1949) and then played the title role in productions of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in 1949 and 1950. She also performed in a pantomime of Cinderella for the Royal Film performance with Jean Simmons; Lockwood called this "the joliest show in which I have ever taken part."
She returned to film-making after an 18-month absence to star in Highly Dangerous (1950), a comic thriller in the vein of Lady Vanishes written expressly for her by Eric Ambler and directed by Roy Ward Baker. It was not popular. Rank was to put her in an adaptation of Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells but the film was postponed. She turned down the female lead in The Browning Version, and a proposed sequel to The Wicked Lady, The Wicked Lady's Daughter, was never made.
In 1952, Lockwood signed a two picture a year contract with Herbert Wilcox at $112,000 a year, making her the best paid actress in British films. Lockwood said Wilcox and his wife Anna Neagle promised from signing the contract "I was never allowed to forget that I was a really bright and dazzling star on their horizon. They were going to look after me as no one else had done before. They did. And I loved it."
The association began well with Trent's Last Case (1952) with Michael Wilding and Orson Welles which was popular. She appeared on TV in Ann Veronica and another TV adaptation of a Shaw play, Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1953).
Her next two films for Wilcox were commercial disappointments: Laughing Anne (1953) and Trouble in the Glen (1954). She made no more films with Wilcox who called her "a director's joy who can shade a performance or a character with computer accuracy" but admitted their collaboration "did not come off."
She then appeared in a thriller, Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) with Dirk Bogarde for director Lewis Gilbert. Gilbert later said "It was reasonably successful, but, by then, Margaret had been in several really bad films and her name on a picture was rather counter-productive." It would be her last major film role.
As her popularity waned in the 1950s, she returned to occasional performances on the West End stage and appeared on television.
She had the lead in a TV series The Royalty (1957-58) and appeared regularly on TV anthology series. She played an ageing West End star attempting a comeback in The Human Jungle with Herbert Lom (1965). She starred in another series The Flying Swan (1965).
Her subsequent long-running West End hits include an all-star production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965-66, in which she played the villainous Mrs Cheveley), W. Somerset Maugham's Lady Frederick (1970), Relative Values (Noël Coward revival, 1973) and the thrillers Signpost to Murder (1962) and Double Edge (1975).
In 1969 she starred as barrister Julia Stanford in the TV play Justice is a Woman. This inspired the Yorkshire Television series Justice, which ran for three seasons (39 episodes) from 1971 to 1974, and featured her real-life partner, John Stone, as fictional boyfriend Dr Ian Moody. Lockwood's role as the feisty Harriet Peterson won her Best Actress Awards from the TV Times (1971) and The Sun (1973). In 1975, film director Bryan Forbes persuaded her out of an apparent retirement from feature films, to play the role of the Stepmother in what would be her last feature film, The Slipper and the Rose. This film also included the final feature film appearance of Edith Evans and one of the last film appearances of Kenneth More.
Margaret Lockwood was apparently the inspiration for Sean Pertwee's now infamous death scene in Dog Soldiers. When asked about this he referred to the foul grimace her character Julia Stanford readily expressed in the TV play 'Justice is a Woman'.
Lockwood married Rupert Leon in 1937 (divorced in 1950). She lived her final years in seclusion in Kingston upon Thames, dying at the Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London, from cirrhosis of the liver, aged 73. Her body was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium. She was survived by her daughter, the actress Julia Lockwood (née Margaret Julia Leon, 1941-2019).
|1934||Lorna Doone||Annie Ridd||Basil Dean|||
|1935||The Case of Gabriel Perry||Mildred Perry||Albert de Courville|||
|Honours Easy||Ann||Herbert Brenon|||
|Man of the Moment||Vera||Monty Banks|||
|Midshipman Easy||Donna Agnes||Carol Reed|||
|1936||Jury's Evidence||Betty Stanton||Ralph Ince|||
|The Amateur Gentleman||Georgina Huntstanton||Thornton Freeland|||
|The Beloved Vagabond||Blanquette||Curtis Bernhardt|||
|Irish for Luck||Ellen O'Hare||Arthur B. Woods|||
|1937||The Street Singer||Jenny Green||Jean de Marguenat|||
|Who's Your Lady Friend?||Mimi||Carol Reed|||
|Doctor Syn||Imogene Clegg||Roy William Neill|||
|Melody and Romance||Margaret Williams||Maurice Elvey|||
|1938||Owd Bob||Jeannie McAdam||Robert Stevenson||To the Victor|||
|Bank Holiday||Catherine Lawrence||Carol Reed||Three on a Weekend|||
|The Lady Vanishes||Iris Henderson||Alfred Hitchcock|||
|1939||Susannah of the Mounties||Vicky Standing||Walter Lang, William A. Seiter|||
|A Girl Must Live||Leslie James||Carol Reed|||
|Rulers of the Sea||Mary Shaw||Frank Lloyd|||
|1940||The Stars Look Down||Jenny Sunley||Carol Reed|||
|Girl in the News||Anne Graham||Carol Reed|||
|Night Train to Munich||Anna Bomasch||Carol Reed|||
|1941||Quiet Wedding||Janet Royd||Anthony Asquith|||
|1942||Alibi||Helene Ardouin||Brian Desmond Hurst|||
|1943||The Man in Grey||Hesther Shaw||Leslie Arliss|||
|Dear Octopus||Penny Randolph||Harold French|||
|1944||Give Us the Moon||Nina||Val Guest|||
|Love Story||Lissa Campbell||Leslie Arliss||A Lady Surrenders|||
|1945||A Place of One's Own||Annette||Bernard Knowles|||
|I'll Be Your Sweetheart||Edie Story||Val Guest|||
|The Wicked Lady||Barbara Worth||Leslie Arliss|||
|1946||Bedelia||Bedelia Carrington||Lance Comfort|||
|1947||Hungry Hill||Fanny Rosa||Brian Desmond Hurst|||
|Jassy||Jassy Woodroofe||Bernard Knowles|||
|The White Unicorn||Lucy||Bernard Knowles||Bad Sister|||
|1948||Pygmalion||Eliza Doolittle||Television film|
|Look Before You Love||Ann Markham||Harold Huth|||
|1949||Cardboard Cavalier||Nell Gwynne||Walter Forde|||
|Madness of the Heart||Lydia Garth||Charles Bennett|||
|1950||Highly Dangerous||Frances Gray||Roy Ward Baker|||
|1952||Trent's Last Case||Margaret Manderson||Herbert Wilcox|||
|1953||Captain Brassbound's Conversion||Lady Cicely Wayneflete||Dennis Vance||Television film|||
|Laughing Anne||Laughing Anne||Herbert Wilcox|||
|1954||Trouble in the Glen||Marissa Mengues||Herbert Wilcox|||
|1955||Spider's Web||Clarissa Hailsham-Brown||Wallace Douglas||Television film|
|Cast a Dark Shadow||Freda Jeffries||Lewis Gilbert|||
|1956||Murder Mistaken||Freda Jeffries||Campbell Logan||Television film|||
|Call It a Day||Dorothy Hilton||Hal Burton||Television film|
|1976||The Slipper and the Rose||Stepmother||Bryan Forbes|||
|1983||The Man in Gray||Hesther Shaw||Leslie Arliss|||
Various polls of exhibitors consistently listed Lockwood among the most popular stars of her era: