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Thursday, 15 July 2010

J Arthur (drag your minds out of the gutter people, this is a film blog)

Well thank you Mr Coniam, I checked out Dolph Lundgren and he doesn't fit the bill, though he did have some kind of flirtation with the American Olympic Decathlon team.
The Rank gong man however is a more interesting case.
Gongman was a role taken on by several men over the years, including former boxer 'Bombadier' Billy Wells, however our (and by that I mean my) interest should be piqued by Ken Richmond. Not a name to conjure dreams of the silver screen I grant you but Ken, who was apparently the last of the gongmen, did have one vaguely significant role and it turns out to have been in one of my favourite films, Night and the City.
Night and the City, starring Richard Widmark and an almost completely wasted Gene Tierney was Jules Dassin's first movie away from hollywood once his blacklisting during the communist witchhunts started kicking in. It was based on the Gerald Kersh novel and is about a cheap nightclub tout in London who tries to muscle in on the big boys by taking over the apparently big money wrestling racket.
The film is full of great performances from the likes of Googie Withers (surely the finest name in cinema history?), Herbert Lom, James Hayter and a particular standout from the corpulent Francis L Sullivan as Phil Nosseross. Ken plays a wrestler which should come as no surprise as in 1952 he'd picked up a bronze medal at the Olympics as a super heavyweight, freestyle wrestler.
Hurrah and huzzah, another Olympic medalist actor/film icon (well he was the gongman and it doesn't get much more iconic than that).
As a little extra info of the non Olympic kind, in one scene in Night and the City Richard Widmark is chased through the war ravaged ruins of London by a couple of thugs, one of whom is my favourite member of the Carry on team. Yes Peter Butterworth was a scary gangster tough enough to put the wind up old Dickie Widmark. Who'd have thought it?



  1. Fascinating info on the gong man. Who'd have thought it?
    Incidentally, however, Googie actually possesses only the second greatest name in movie history. The top prize goes to the American silent actor Lom Poff.

  2. Sorry, that should of course have been Lon Poff. Imagine anyone called Lom Poff. Ridiculous.

  3. I've managed to stop doing it out loud now (and to be honest it doesn't come up in conversation as much as you'd think) but I still say "does it" in my mind when anybody mentions Googie Withers.
    I'll have to look up this Lon Poff, I'm not familiar with his oeuvre.