Bernard Miles


Actor
Bernard Miles

About

Birth Place
Uxbridge, England, GB
Born
September 27, 1907
Died
June 15, 1991

Biography

Prolific actor of the London stage who entered film in 1933 in small supporting roles. Specializing in portraying country rustics, Miles appeared in Michael Powell's "The Love Test" (1935) and "One of Our Aircraft Is Missing" (1942), Anthony Asquith's "Quiet Wedding" (1940) and the Boulting Brothers' "Pastor Hall" (1940) before his first starring role opposite Noel Coward in the Noel Cow...

Family & Companions

Josephine Wilson
Wife
Actor. Died in November 1990.

Bibliography

"Curtain Calls"
Bernard Miles and J C Trewin (1981)
"God's Brainwave"
Bernard Miles (1972)
"Favorite Tales from Shakespeare"
Bernard Miles (1972)
"The British Theatre"
Bernard Miles (1947)

Notes

Miles was the only British actor, apart from Laurence Olivier, to be honored with a life peerage.

He formed the Mermaid Theatre Trust to build the first playhouse for 300 years in London's financial district; theater opened in May 1959

Biography

Prolific actor of the London stage who entered film in 1933 in small supporting roles. Specializing in portraying country rustics, Miles appeared in Michael Powell's "The Love Test" (1935) and "One of Our Aircraft Is Missing" (1942), Anthony Asquith's "Quiet Wedding" (1940) and the Boulting Brothers' "Pastor Hall" (1940) before his first starring role opposite Noel Coward in the Noel Coward-David Lean directed "In Which We Serve" (1942). He contributed to the script of Will Hay's wartime comedy hit "The Goose Steps Out" (1942) and made his directorial debut with "Tawny Pipit" (1944), a comedy about rare birds that he co-wrote, produced and co-directed.

Although Miles continued writing "The Guinea Pig" (1948) and directing films "Chance of a Lifetime" (1950), he is best remembered for a gallery of superb character performances. Some of the most memorable included the "poor-but-honest" Joe Gargery in David Lean's "Great Expectations" (1946), the sinister phony minister/kidnapper in Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much," and the bourgeois father threatened by the prospect of his son's interracial marriage in "Sapphire" (1959).

In 1959 Miles founded the Mermaid Theater with his wife, actress Josephine Wilson. His most famous mermaid role was as Long John Silver in the annual Christmas production of "Treasure Island" which he co-wrote and starred in for a 1982 TV version. Miles was knighted in 1969 for his efforts to sustain the Mermaid Theater and was given a life peerage in 1979.

Life Events

1930

Professional stage debut as 2nd messenger in "Richard III"

1933

Film acting debut, "Channel Crossing"

1937

Joined Herbert Farjeon's revue company

1942

Contributed to the script of Will Hay's wartime comedy, "The Goose Steps Out"

1942

Appeared in first starring role, opposite Noel Coward in "In Which We Serve"

1944

Co-wroted, produced and co-directed (with Charles Saunders) first feature film, "Tawny Pipit"

1969

His stage musical, "Lock Up Your Daughters", adapted from an 18th-century play by Henry Fielding, was subsequently made into a film by Columbia Pictures

1982

Co-wrote a TV adaptation of his famed annual Christmas Mermaid stage production of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island"; played Long John Silver

1991

Friends in show business staged a benefit for Miles after learning he was nearly blind, confined to a wheelchair and living on a state pension (date approximate)

Videos

Movie Clip

In Which We Serve (1942) - What A Bitter Blow Kinross (the writer, producer and co-director Noel Coward) addressing his crew, including John Mills, Michael Wilding and Bernard Miles, then hearing Prime Minister Chamberlain's announcement, from the government-backed propaganda hit In Which We Serve, 1942.
Great Expectations (1946) - Your Liberal Benefactor The now-mature "Pip," (John Mills) while at work with blacksmith Joe Gargery (Bernard Miles) gets a propitious visit from the lawyer Jaggers (Frances L. Sullivan) in David Lean's Great Expectations, 1946.
In Which We Serve (1942) - Look At The Huns! Crete, 1941, battle scene from which flashbacks will ensue, Captain Kinross (Noel Coward, writer, producer and co-director with David Lean) commanding charges including Michael Wilding, Philip Friend and Bernard Miles, from In Which We Serve, 1942.
Spy In Black, The (a.k.a. U-Boat 29) -- (1939) - Do You Know Him By Sight? German fleet headquarters at Kiel, 1917, Conrad Veidt as Captain Hardt, arriving from 16 days on the sub with aide Schuster (Marius Goring), taking disappointments relayed by the concierge (Bernard Miles) in stride, from the first scene in Michael Powell’s The Spy In Black (a.k.a U-Boat 29), 1939.
Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1956) - Assassinated, In London! Visiting American doctor Ben (James Stewart) gains the crucial guilty knowledge from what appears to be an expiring Arab (Daniel Gelin), who is really their mysterious French friend, at the bazaar in Marakesh, Doris Day his wife, in Alfred Hitchcock's second version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956.
tom thumb (1958) - Sent By The Beautiful Lady? The rustling is the first appearance of the title character (Russ Tamblyn), whose arrival has been foretold to John the woodcutter (Bernard Miles) and whose wife (Jessie Matthews) shares his delight, in producer-director George Pal’s musical take on the sort-of Brothers Grimm tale, tom thumb, 1958.
tom thumb (1958) - He Can Wiggle Through The Keyhole! The tiny title character (Russ Tamblyn) joins his new adoptive woodcutter dad (Bernard Miles) for a first day at work when two new characters appear in the forest, Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers as Ivan and Antony, with a plot in mind, in producer-director George Pal’s tom thumb, 1958.
Crown V. Stevens (1936) - Char Woman Found Him Innocent Chris (Patric Knowles) is about to seek mercy from a Notting Hill money lender whom he is surprised to find dead, as-yet nameless Doris (Beatrix Thomson) hefting the smoking gun, police (Bernard Miles supporting Allan Jeayes) investigating afterward, in director Michael Powell's Crown V. Stevens, 1936.
One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing - B For Bertie Unorthodox and engrossing opening from writing, directing and producing team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, introducing the six British fliers by name and role, opening One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing, 1941.
One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing - Swimming Dutchman Crash landed in Holland, British Bombers (Hugh Burden, Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Bernard Miles, Hugh Williams) worry about their lost companion, as George, an actor in civilian life, leads conversation, in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing, 1941.
Thunder Rock - All Hands Were Lost Streeter (James Mason) and administrator Flanning (Brian Herbert) drop in at an isolated Lake Michigan lighthouse, looking for the reclusive English keeper (Michael Redgrave), in Thunder Rock, 1942.

Trailer

Family

John Miles
Son
Bridget Miles
Daughter

Companions

Josephine Wilson
Wife
Actor. Died in November 1990.

Bibliography

"Curtain Calls"
Bernard Miles and J C Trewin (1981)
"God's Brainwave"
Bernard Miles (1972)
"Favorite Tales from Shakespeare"
Bernard Miles (1972)
"The British Theatre"
Bernard Miles (1947)

Notes

Miles was the only British actor, apart from Laurence Olivier, to be honored with a life peerage.

He formed the Mermaid Theatre Trust to build the first playhouse for 300 years in London's financial district; theater opened in May 1959

He was knighted in 1969.

He made life peer by British government in 1979.