Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hurd's Home

Actor Hurd Hatfield and Jean Willes; 1949

Hurd Hatfield (7 December 1917 - 26 December 1986) appeared sporadically in films, but the roles he played were quite memorable such as Pontius Pilate in King of Kings (1961) and Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed (?), and Peter Lawford behind the scenes in Picture of Dorian Gray

 I've seen The Picture of Dorian Gray, and did not understand why he was chosen for the part, and neither did he.  To quote Hatfield:  "You know, I was never a great beauty in (Dorian) Gray and I never understood why I got the part, and have spent my career regretting it."  [Source: IMDB]  I thought him cold and creepy in the film.  I didn't see how anyone would be drawn to him.  I was much more drawn to George Sanders in the film than Hurd.  I've read various reasons for why he portrayed Dorian the way he did.  Some sources say he just didn't care about the role so he didn't put his all into the portrayal while other sources say he was playing it androgynous, bisexual, with humor, and in an avant-garde manner so it was ahead of its time and misunderstood.  I'm not sure what the truth is.  

Hurd Hatfiel (far left) in King of Kings

He was good as Pontius Pilate in King of Kings.  Before I would put him on my "Favorite" or "Least Favorite" Actor list, I would love to see more performances.  I hated him as Dorian, but he was good as Pontius.  I think Pontius would be an easy person for many to play.  Typical government official who wants peace and to keep his job.

Angela Lansbury and Hurd Hatfield

On a side note, he became lifelong friends with Angela Lansbury, who appeared in The Picture of Dorian Gray.  She even found a home for him in Ireland, right near her own home at the time.  Hatfield would also appear on her classic television show, Murder She Wrote, three times.  

Hatfield's home in County Cork, Ireland, Ballinterry House

I assume the top photograph, while not labeled completely, was taken for the film Chinatown at Midnight (1950) in which they both appeared: Hatfield as Clifford Ward and Jean Willes as Alice.  Another film to add to my "To Watch" list.

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