Leonard Rossiter.com
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Three official web sites in one
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His Life & Career - Reginald Perrin - Rising Damp

The Life & Career of Leonard Rossiter

Film Performances

A complete guide to the films of Leonard Rossiter. All dates are UK release dates.


On This Page A - Z:

2001: A Space Odyssey
A Jolly Bad Fellow
A Kind Of Loving
Barry Lyndon

Billy Liar
Britannia Hospital (Special Page)
Deadfall
Deadlier Than The Male
Diamonds For Breakfast
Hotel Paradiso
King Rat
Le Petomane
Luther
Oliver!
Otley
Pink Panther Strikes Again, The, The
Rising Damp
This Sporting Life
Trail Of The Pink Panther
Voyage Of The Damned
Water
Waterloo Bridge Handicap, The
Whisperers, The
Witches, The
Wrong Box, The



A Kind Of Loving
1962
Written by Stan Barstow (novel)
Screenplay by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse
Directed by John Schlesinger
Produced by Joseph Janni

Starring Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird, James Bolam

A story of young love in a dreary Northern town. Draughtsman Vic (Bates) and Ingrid, a colleague from the factory floor (Ritchie) fall in love but have to marry when she becomes pregnant.

Leonard played Whymper, who worked with Vic in the draughtsman's office.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
Alan Bates Archive
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This Sporting Life
1963
Written by David Storey (novel)
Screenplay by David Storey
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Produced by Karel Reisz

Starring Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, William Hartnell

Harris played Frank Machin, who sets out to better himself by becoming a rugby ace. However, he is frustrated by the sexual advances of his landlady. Powerful acting (the film was nominated for two Academy Awards) portray love, success and disillusionment in working-class England.

Leonard played a character called Phillips, a journalist for the City Guardian newspaper, in two pub scenes.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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Billy Liar
1963
Written by Willis Hall (novel)
Screenplay by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall (from their play)
Directed by John Schlesinger
Produced by Joseph Janni

Starring Tom Courtenay, Wilfrid Pickles, Mona Washbourne, Helen Fraser, Julie Christie

Billy Fisher (Courtenay, pictured right) lives a dreary, ordinary life, and escapes from it by living in a dream world. His lack of attention causes inaccuracies in his work (the funeral directors of Shadrack and Duxbury), leading him to lie. As his errors and lies start to pile up he feels he has to get away...

Leonard played Emmanuel Shadrack, Billy's boss at the undertaker firm where he worked.
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Shadrack was 'gunned down in a hail of bullets' (see picture, right) in one of Billy's dream fantasies.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"He gave a superb, subtly comic performance as Shadrack, the unctuously arrogant, determinedly 'with-it' undertaker. Perfectly cast - perfectly played. I always hoped to work with him again. He was always very high indeed on that "What about...?" list that writers compile when discussing casting with their directors. But the reply to "What about Leonard Rossiter?" was always, alas, that he was already spoken for." - Keith Waterhouse.
"Leonard made me laugh so helplessly behind the camera during the filming of 'Billy Liar' that it was I who often ruined the takes."
"His portrayal of Shadrack the undertaker in John Schlesinger's film was then, and remains still, one of my happiest memories of him. Several years later Ian La Frenais and I were working on the 'book' for the musical 'Billy', based on the same material. As we wrote Shadrack's part it was impossible to forget Leonard's interpretation, his beady eye and stooped figure. I polished up quite a passable impersonation of him while we read the scenes through, our favourite being the one where he confronts Billy over the question of what he has done with the firm's Christmas calendars: 'Still, we don't want to spoil your weekend Fisher. Why don't we talk this over on Monday morning when we may have to consider some kind of legal action.'" - Dick Clement.
"I had the rare fortune to work with Leonard three times...there remains these three superb comic performances...I cannot imagine a time to come when they will fail to give me pleasure." - Willis Hall.

Links:
Internet Movie Database
Buy this film
Detailed Guide to Billy Liar






Jolly Bad Fellow (U.S. title They All Died Laughing)
1964
Written by C.E. Vulliamy (novel, Down Among The Dead Men)
Screenplay by Robert Hamer and Donald Taylor
Directed by Don Chaffey
Produced by Donald Taylor

Starring Leo McKern, Janet Munro, Mervyn Johns, Dennis Price

A brilliant professor invents a gas that will kill off all the useless people in the world. The concoction reduces its victims to hysterical fits of laughter before killing them, but things don't quite go to plan.

Leonard played Doctor Fisher, a member of the scientists' faculty.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database




King Rat

1965
Written by James Clavell (novel)
Screenplay by Bryan Forbes
Directed by Bryan Forbes
Produced by James Woolf

Starring George Segal, Tom Courtenay, Denholm Elliott, James Fox

Segal plays Corporal King, one of a number of Allied soldiers captured by the Japanese and being held in a POW camp. A chillingly-told tale of the horrors of war and imprisonment, but also of the fight for survival and the need for normality.

Leonard played fellow prisoner Major McCoy.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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Hotel Paradiso
1966
Written by Georges Feydeau (play, Hotel du Libre Echange)
Screenplay by Peter Glenville and Jean-Claude Carriere
Directed and Produced by by Peter Glenville

Starring Gina Lollobrigida, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley, Derek Fowlds

Side-splitting bedroom farce with the great Alec Guinness as a shy husband with a shrewish wife who carries on a heated affair with a pompous architect's sultry spouse (Lollobrigida). Their rendezvous takes place in a Paris hotel, and when husband Robert Morley arrives there on business, the lovers go to great lengths to avoid getting caught.

Leonard played a Police Inspector.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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The Witches (U.S. title The Devil's Own)
1966
Written by Peter Curtis (novel, The Devil's Own)
Screenplay by Nigel Kneale
Directed by Cyril Frankel
Produced by Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen

Classic Hammer horror. After a horrifying experience with voodoo in Africa, Gwen Mayfield (Fontaine) returns to England and takes a position as headmistress at a private school. She is soon made aware of a coven of witches, led by a local journalist who plans to sacrifice a student.

Leonard played Doctor Wallis, of whom Mayfield was a patient.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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The Wrong Box
1966
Written by Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
Screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Barry Shevelove
Directed and Produced by Bryan Forbes

Starring Ralph Richardson, Michael Caine, John Mills, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

A madcap black comedy about a scramble for an inheritance, focusing on two brothers trying to bump each other off at every turn. A star-studded cast even includes Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers.

Leonard played Vyvian Alastair Montague, the umpire of a duel. The two duellers shoot Mr. Montague instead.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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The Whisperers
1966
Written by Robert Nicolson (novel)
Screenplay by Bryan Forbes
Directed by Bryan Forbes
Produced by Michael Laughlin and Ronald Shedlo

Starring Edith Evans, Eric Portman, Harry Baird, Michael Robbins

Atmospheric British drama featuring an acclaimed performance by Edith Evans as an elderly woman living alone in a rundown apartment. While experiencing emotional problems, she is forced to deal with her estranged husband, crooked son and a shady neighbour.

Leonard played a national assistance officer.
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Leonard's Role Remembered:
"Perhaps the performance I enjoyed most was a scene he played with Eric Portman and, although Leonard was then comparatively inexperienced in the art of film acting, he possessed to a very large degree the gift of ignoring the camera and 'being' rather than impersonating...He was very much an actor's actor and widely respected for his consummate skills, since his comedy was always based on reality and that, in essence, was his true genius." - Bryan Forbes.

Links:
Internet Movie Database
Buy this film
Film synopsis


Deadlier Than The Male
1966
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, David Osborn, Liz Charles-Williams
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Produced by Betty E Box

Starring Nigel Green, Richard Johnson, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina, Milton Reid

An update of the Bulldog Drummond adventure, in which two wealthy men are murdered and an insurance company suspects two female killers as part of a master plot.

Leonard played Bridgenorth, who gets in the way of the payment of $1m to the master criminal. He is paralysed by a ring dart, and thrown over the balcony to suggest suicide.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database


Deadfall
1967
Written by Desmond Cory (novel)
Screenplay by Bryan Forbes
Directed by Bryan Forbes
Produced by Paul Monash

Starring Michael Caine, Eric Portman, John Barry, David Buck

Cat burglar Henry Clarke (Caine) and his accomplice Richard Moreau (Portman) attempt to steal a millionaire's (Buck) hoard of gems from his mansion.

Leonard played the part of the informant, Fillmore.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database




2001: A Space Odyssey
1968
Written by Sir Arthur C. Clarke (novel, The Sentinel)
Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Directed and Produced by Stanley Kubrick

Starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Margaret Tyzack, Douglas Rain

One of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. The story of an alien intelligence placing monolith-shaped markers across the solar system to monitor Man's period of evolution from ape to spaceman. Years ahead of its time, with great attention to detail, 2001 remains a classic piece of cinematography.

Leonard played Dr. Andre Smyslov, a Russian scientist who meets Heywood Floyd (Sylvester), and tries to get him to divulge on the strange goings-on up on the Moon (the location of the second monolith).
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
2001: A Space Odyssey - A Guide
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Oliver!
1968
Written by Charles Dickens (novel, Oliver Twist), Lionel Bart (play)
Screenplay by Vernon Harris
Directed by Carol Reed
Produced by John Woolf

Starring Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Sir Harry Secombe, Shani Wallis

A musical spectacular with a star-studded cast tells the story of orphan boy Oliver Twist (Lester) brought up in a workhouse but dismissed to an undertakers (Rossiter) after asking "for more". He runs away and is taken in by Fagin (Moody) and his band of pickpockets. A host of songs and a handful of Academy Awards for this adaptation of Lionel Bart's West End play.

Leonard played Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker where Oliver is sent to work after his eviction from the workhouse.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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Diamonds For Breakfast
1968
Written by N.F. Simpson, Pierre Rouve and Ronald Harwood
Screenplay by Simpson, Rouve and Harwood
Directed by Christopher Morahan
Produced by Carlo Ponti

Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Rita Tushingham, Margaret Blye, Warren Mitchell

Comedy caper about Grand Duke Nicholas (Mastroianni), the son of a Russian nobleman who tries to steal the diamonds that his father lost while gambling on the night of his birth.

Leonard played the part of Inspector Dudley.

Links:
Internet Movie Database
Mastroianni obituary


Otley
1969
Written by Martin Waddell (novel)
Screenplay by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Directed by Dick Clement
Produced by bruce Cohn-Curtis

Starring Tom Courtenay (pictured), Romy Schneider, Freddie Jones, Edward Hardwicke, Geoffrey Bayldon

A comedy spy-thriller from the writers of The Likely Lads. Gerald Arthur Otley (Courtenay), a man content to do as little as possible in the world, finds himself on the run from assassins after inadvertently witnessing a murder.

Leonard played Johnston, an ex-commando, now a farmer and owner of a coach-hire firm. He is also a part-time assassin and catches up with Otley.
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Leonard's Role Remembered:
"I asked him to play a rather off-beat assassin called Johnston, my theory being that although it was not a comic role Len would bring an extra dimension to it through his talent for comedy. Len was funny but also quite sinister and always believable." - Dick Clement, director.

Links:
Internet Movie Database
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Luther
1973
Written by John Osborne (play)
Screenplay by Edward Anhalt
Directed by Guy Green
Produced by Eli Landau

Starring Peter Cellier, Stacy Keach, Patrick Magee, Maurice Denham, Judi Dench

Detailed dramatization of Osborne's play about Martin Luther (Keach), the German religious reformer, and founder of Protestantism.

Leonard played Brother Weinard, one of Luther's followers and fellow monks.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
John Osborne biography


Barry Lyndon
1975
Written by William Makepeace Thackeray (novel)
Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick
Directed and Produced by Stanley Kubrick

Starring Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, Frank Middlemass

The epic tale of Redmond Barry, later Barry Lyndon (O'Neal) and his rise from poor Irish country boy to a pillar of high English society. The winner of four Academy Awards, this is a tale of seduction, gambling and duelling richly detailed by Kubrick.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"Leonard Rossiter, who gave an extraordinary performance as Captain Quin, was a 'way out', off-the-wall actor. Stanley [Kubrick] liked those kind of actors. He was very strict in having everything repeated exactly. Stanley wasn't too keen on people suddenly doing something slightly different, but he made allowances for actors of this kind of eccentricity." - Jonathon Cecil, co-star.

Leonard played the part of Captain Quinn, lover of Nora Brady. Irishman Redmond Barry is jealous of the Englishman and challenges him to a duel. Quinn is shot, but only with clay bullets. Barry is forced to flee, a part of the plan for Quinn to marry Brady without further interruption.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
Barry Lyndon guide
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The Pink PantherStrikes Again
1976
Written by Frank Waldman and Blake Edwards
Screenplay by Edwards and Waldman
Directed and Produced by Blake Edwards

Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Lesley-Anne Down, Colin Blakely, Burt Kwouk

Charles Dreyfus (Lom) escapes from the mental asylum and tries to kill Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Sellers). He doesn't succeed at first, so instead builds a Doomsday machine and demand that someone else kills Jacques Clouseau, or he will use the machine to wipe out whole cities and even whole countries... With about 22 assassins from all over the globe on his tail, Clouseau decides to find Dreyfus alone and put him back in the mental asylum.

Leonard played Clouseau's boss Inspector Quinlan, accidentally shot by Clouseau's clumsiness and fearful of him ever after.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
Official Pink Panther Site
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Voyage Of The Damned
1976
Written by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan (book)
Screenplay by Steve Shagan and David Butler
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Produced by Robert Fryer

Starring Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner, Max Von Sydow, Malcolm McDowell, James Mason

The harrowing true story of a ship carrying 937 Jews to Havana, Cuba during the Second World War - and apparent freedom from the Nazis -  without the knowledge that they would be turned away when they got there, a mere propagandist plot by Goebbels.

Leonard played Commander Udo von Bonin.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
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Survivors' Reunion - News Story



The Waterloo Bridge Handicap
1978
Written by Ross Cramer
Screenplay by Ross Cramer
Directed by Ross Cramer
Produced by Peter Fetterman

Starring Leonard Rossiter, Gorden Kaye, Lynda Bellingham, Patricia Hodge, John Quentin

An almost-silent movie, made for TV. Charles Barker (Rossiter) is determined to be the last commuter on the train at Surbiton and the first off at Waterloo. Horse-racing commentator Brough Scott provides the commentary of the journey, with only Barker's thoughts heard.

Leonard played the lead role of Charles Barker.
Watch the film in full

Links:
Internet Movie Database






Le Petomane
1979
Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Screenplay by Galton and Simpson
Directed by Ian MacNaughton

Starring Graham Stark, Madeleine Bellamy and Michael Cronin

The story of Monsieur Joseph Pujol, a man with an elastic anus, whose 'farting' performances at the Moulin Rouge in Paris at the turn of the century drove his audiences into uncontrollable hysterics. Nurses had to be on call during performances. Leonard's portrayal in this 30-minute film was nothing short of brilliant. Although he didn't produce the sound effects himself, his actions and intensity of concentration for each 'emission' made it hard to remember that he didn't.

Author's Note: My most-asked question about Leonard Rossiter is that concerning the availability of this film on video.

Leonard played the lead role of Joseph Pujol.
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Leonard's Role Remembered:

"Both Peter Sellers and David Niven had expressed great interest in playing Le Petomane. Both had found it hysterically funny and both were advised by their agents against doing it. Because of the nature of the subject it was thought that it would be bad for their image. That was the last thing Leonard considered. Was it funny? Was it valid? That's all. He decided yes, and played it delightfully with great dignity and delicacy. Nobody would have played it better. In the end we were pleased the other two had been warned off."
"Right at the end of the film we quoted [British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward] Gray who, at the outbreak of the first World War said: 'The lights are going out all over Europe', and we had Leonard farting onto the footlights of the stage, 'blowing them out' one by one until it was black. Great memories!"
"Peter Sellers wanted to do it, but he was advised against it. They said it would ruin his image. And then it was offered to Ron Moody, who turned it down for the same reason. Leonard saw it and he said "Ooh yes please, I'll have some of that!" - Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, screenplay authors.
"Pujol was paid far more than, say, Sandra Bernhardt. She was on something like 8,000 francs, while he was on 20,000F. He was the Rory Bremner of the 'other end' and another day." - Ray Galton.

Links:
Biography of Pujol




Rising Damp
1980
Written by Eric Chappell
Screenplay by Eric Chappell
Directed by Joe McGrath

Starring Leonard Rossiter, Frances De La Tour, Don Warrington, Christopher Strauli, Denholm Elliott

With the television series (from which this film originates) regarded as one of the greatest situation comedies of all time, LeonardRossiter.com has a separate web site devoted to Rising Damp.


Britannia Hospital
1982
Written by David Sherwin
Screenplay by David Sherwin
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Produced by Davina Belling

Starring Malcolm McDowell, Joan Plowright, Arthur Lowe, Alan Bates, Mark Hamill, Brian Glover (pictured)

Leonard played the Director of Britannia Hospital, Vincent Potter.
Watch the film

One of Leonard's great big-screen roles, Britannia Hospital has a special section on this web site.




Trail Of The Pink Panther
1982
Written by Blake Edwards and Geoffrey Edwards
Screenplay by Blake Edwards
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards and Tony Adams

Starring David Niven, Herbert Lom, Joanna Lumley, Richard Mulligan, Burt Kwouk

After the death of Peter Sellers, this was an attempt to splice together a new story from linking new material and previously-cut footage from earlier Pink Panther movies.

Leonard again played Inspector Quinlan.
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Links:
Internet Movie Database
Official Pink Panther Site
Buy this film


Water
1985
Written by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais and Bill Persky
Screenplay by Clement, La Frenais and Persky
Directed by Dick Clement

Starring Michael Caine, Valerie Perrine, Billy Connolly, Brenda Vaccaro, Fulton Mackay

A tiny, forgotten British island in the Caribbean - Cascara - is suddenly invaded by Americans, French, Cubans and local revolutionaries after a huge source of subterranean mineral water is accidentally tapped while drilling for oil. The British government send a man from the F.O. to calm the situation.

Leonard played Sir Malcolm Leveridge, a Foreign Office minister sent to Cascara to assess the situation.
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Leonard's Role Remembered:
"I think if I had to choose one adjective to describe Len it would be 'meticulous'. He was always prepared when he walked on set, having considered every aspect of the role. But he also had a formidable technique, particularly in his ability to absorb great wodges of dialogue. Len knew he was good...[He was] happy to offer suggestions, but always wanting to be reassured in case he did not fit in with the director's vision. Len was always a character actor, whose strength as a breed is that although they take longer to become established they have great staying power. I feel that Len had hardly begun to show us his range and I feel cheated."
- Dick Clement.

Links:
Internet Movie Database
Location work article
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Text (c) Paul Fisher
Pictures (c) their respective owners.