Family & Companions
Gifted, endearing character player, in films since the mid-1930s. A master scene-stealer, Rutherford personified the eccentric English spinster in a number of famous comedies, including David Lean's classic "Blithe Spirit" (1945), as the enthusiastic, bicycle-riding psychic, Madame Arcati. In "The Happiest Days of Your Life" (1950), she teamed beautifully with Alistair Sim for a rollicking secondary school farce.
With her plump figure, small and piercing eyes, and bulldog expression, Rutherford could embody a spirit of prim, stiff-upper-lip efficiency or could play a classic, fidgety bungler with equal ease. She made a memorably nervous Miss Prism in a sterling film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's farce, "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952). Rutherford is perhaps best known as the indomitable title character in four "Miss Marple" mystery films of the 60s. Most of Rutherford's credits are British, but she won an Academy Award for her hilarious rendition of a daffy duchess down on her luck in the old-fashioned, all-star Hollywood anthology drama, "The V.I.P.s" (1963). This much-loved trouper was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the late 60s shortly before her death.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made her West End stage debut in the play "Wild Justice" by James Dale
Made her film debut as Miss Butterby in "Dusty Ermine"
Career took notable upturn with her performance as the eccentric septuagenarian Bijou Furze in the stage comedy, "Spring Meeting"
First played Miss Prism in "The Importance of Being Earnest" onstage, in a production by John Gielgud
Played the atypically unsympathetic role of Mrs. Danvers in a stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel, "Rebecca"
Portrayed Madame Arcati on the London stage in the original production of Noel Coward's comedy, "Blithe Spirit"
Recreated her stage role in David Lean's film version of "Blithe Spirit"
Toured North America with John Gielgud in "The Importance of Being Earnest", this time playing Lady Bracknell
Played Miss Whitchurch in the stage farce, "The Happiest Days of Your Life"
Recreated her role in "The Happiest Days of Your Life" in Frank Launder's film adaptation
Committed her performance as Miss Prism to film in Anthony Asquith's adaptation of "The Importance of Being Earnest"
Toured Australia in "The Happiest Days of Your Life" with husband Stringer Davis
Won Best Supporting Actress Oscar playing a dotty dowager in "The VIPs"
Suffered a fall while filming in Italy; broke her hip and never fully recovered