Londonist was saddened to hear the news of the death of Sir John Mills over the weekend. It’s difficult to think about the importance of British cinema without conjuring up an image of John Mills – as Captain of a submarine in We Dive at Dawn, Pip in Great Expectations, Pat Reid in The Colditz Story, taking that drink in Ice Cold in Alex… the list goes on. Over a hundred films as well as managing to put in a series of great television performances including Londonist favourite Quatermass and two of our best remembered episodes of Tales of the Unexpected.
Stephen Fry, who had visited with Mills recently, paid tribute in The Guardian:
“It’s marvellously typical of him to leave the party on St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday and death day. He was a remarkable man. He became almost the only actor in the 20th century who was a genuine leading man; Brits can be marvellous at playing Nazis, but such was his authenticity as the English hero that people often forgot how good he was. To say the end of an era is always a cliché, but he was the last of a particular generation, not just of actors, but of Englishmen to whom modesty was more important than ego“.
We rewatched Ice Cold in Alex over the weekend and raised a cold glass to the man, although it’s the one movie he seemed to have at least one regret over:
“I was so disappointed in my love scene with Sylvia Syms. Up to then I had made love on the screen to virtually nothing but submarines and tanks, and this was my big chance – and then most of it was cut out.“
Sir John Lewis Ernest Mills: actor, producer and director. Born February 22 1908. Died April 23 2005.