Rex Harrison: A Centenary Tribute
March 5–24, 2008
Whether playing a soldier in the Salvation Army, a sometimes gentlemanly phonics teacher, a ghost, an orchestra conductor, an escaped criminal, a Roman emperor, a Muslim potentate, or a pope, Harrison brought rakish charm and quicksilver elegance to his roles. His gracefully animated speeches, his verbal musicality, and the naughty glimmer in his eye conveyed a multiplicity of meanings. He could be "Sexy Rexy" when appropriate; he could play off the regal connotations of being called Rex; he could "ooze charm from every pore"; and still, there was more. As Rex's son, Professor Carey Harrison, has pointed out, behind the "comedic" performances was a hooded threat of danger. It manifests itself in his insouciance in The Rake's Progress and his physical violence in Escape; it matures into a recurrent sense of menace behind the drollery of Julius Caesar and Henry Higgins—it is the subtly subversive alchemy of a great actor making his craft look all too easy. The Department of Film is delighted to present this sampling of Sir Rex's work in the cinema.