Friday, May 10, 2013


Director Bryan Forbes with actress Katherine Ross on location in Connecticut filming The Stepford Wives
While America waited with bated breath to read on IMDB the latest update of Iron Man 3's global boxoffice performance, or learn the details of Lindsay Lohan's most recent rehab plans; on Wednesday, May 8th, with little mention by the American entertainment press, director Bryan Forbes passed away at age 86.

The British-born director who made a splash with his first film, Whistle Down the Wind (1961) passed away at his home in Surrey, England after a long illness. Although never as well-known to American audiences as fellow countryman Alfred Hitchcock, Forbes nevertheless achieved a kind of anonymous Hitchcock-ian immortality with the original film adaptation of Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives (1975). A film not well-received upon release, but now a genuine full-tilt, cult hit. It's also a movie that ranks among my all-time favorite motion picture thrillers.

Forbes is also responsible for the terrifically chilling Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), an atmospheric minor classic of suspense that I discovered only recently, but has joined the ranks of beloved favorites.

If you're unfamiliar with the director's work, I encourage you to check out the titles: The Whisperers (1967); The L-Shaped Room (1962); the charming Cinderella musical, The Slipper and the Rose (1976); King Rat (1965), or The Madwoman of  Chaillot (1969). Although I only recommend the latter to die-hard fans of Katherine Hepburn or the dashing (even in a turtleneck) Richard Chamberlain.

In honor of Bryan Forbes' passing, click on the titles below to read my more extensive, previously-posted blog essays on the films The Stepford Wives and Séance on a Wet Afternoon:

My tribute to the late Bryan Forbes on Moviepilot:
Bryan Forbes, director of the classic 70s suspense thriller, The Stepford Wives dies at age 86

To read Mark's Random Ramblings on the career of Bryan Forbes from a genuine British bloke's perspective, click Here.

Copyright © Ken Anderson


  1. Very sad news indeed, and a shame that the passing of a man with such talent across the board in film (writing, acting, directing and producing) has gone with so little note. Thanks for the link too Ken, though I must say your perspective is much deeper

  2. Yes, sometimes pop culture has such a short memory. Perhaps he wasn't the most distinctive of directors, but I hate that the "squeaky wheel" theory operates so much in the arts. Directors shouting, "Look at me!" every two seconds are remembered while a solid director who didn't always call attention to himself is overlooked.
    And you're welcome for the link. I may be wrong, but I believe it is you who first recommended "Seance on a Wet Afternoon" to me. I owe you!

    1. I did indeed, glad to have passed it on to you, especially because you enjoyed it so much.

    2. I very much enjoy your writings here. You love many of the films I love. And I found new gems on your recommendation. But I have a correction. "The Madwoman of Chaillot" was filmed in France, not at 20th Century Fox in California. In fact the main outdoor set of the sidewalk cafe turned up in François Truffaut's "Day for Night." IMDB says film was being shot at Studio la Victorine in Nice, where the Place de Chaillot set still stands.

    3. Hi Rick
      Thank you very much for the correction. Of course you are right abut "The Madwoman of Chaillot" being filmed in France and the set being used in Truffaut's "Day for Night." A fact I even reference in my own post about "Day for Night" back in 2011.
      What can I say? Perhaps it was due to my being overcome with grief over Forbes' passing, or I was just being lazy in thinking I could cull what turned out to be an incorrectly-remembered factoid from the cobwebby attic of my mind. (Alas...I plead the latter.)
      Although I loathe being wrong, I loathe more the Internet's vulnerability to the perpetuation of false facts, so I owe you a big thanks for catching that and bringing it to my attention. I like to think I'm part of the antidote to all that, not part of the problem.
      I'm going to remove the reference, but I'm keeping this comment here to remind me to stick to what I usually tell myself when I write and failed to do so in this instance: Even if you're positive you remember a fact, check it out and try to find it substantiated in at least two other sources.
      Thanks very much, Rick! I hope this information is something you know from book research rather than seeing the film. I'd hate to think of your suffering so for your knowledge. :-) Please come back. We need more of you out there!

  3. Ironically, I was/am smack dab in the middle of a book by Bryan Forbes on Dame Edith Evans when he passed away. (Even more ironic is the fact that I keep finding myself identifying with Evans on point after point after point whether it be regarding acting or life in general, though we are from different times and seem to share no other tangible similarities other than being human! It's been a strange thing to discover!) Anyway, he was a talented man and you are so right about the lack of attention regarding it. It happens all the time at awards ceremonies, too. Someone who died at 30 or 40 of drugs or something, but who everyone knew, gets whoops and applause galore and then someone who was a major talent, a pioneer or perhaps even a genius, but who was recently out of public consciousness, is lucky to get a few claps...

    1. Hi Poseidon
      What an odd coincidence! I have never read one of Bryan Forbes' books, but he was certainly a prolific writer. You peak my interest with what you say about his book on Dame Edith Evans. One of the things I like most about biographies is the phenomenon you indicate: the ability to sometimes share a kinship and identify with someone whom, on the surface, it appears you have absolutely nothing in common.
      Yes, Forbes was not the most high-profile of directors and he didn't make mega-millions for the studios that employed him, but he contributed some truly stellar films and it's too bad that his passing was nary a blip on the US film site, IMDB. As you indicate, had he appeared in a leaked sex video tape...

  4. Stepford Wives is one of the most treasured films in my collection. Hr remained married to Nannette Newman, who played Carol Van Sant, for more than 50 years. I have a vivid memory of seeing her play the Liz Taylor role of Velvet Brown in International Velvet, starring Tatum O'Neal and directed by Bryan Forbes. Have not seen her do much since...I wonder if she is still working.

    1. Nanette's been retired for some time. Indeed, her biggest role for many years her in the UK from the early 80s through to the 90s was advertising Fairy washing up liquid on TV.

      Their daughter Emma is a successful broadcaster on BBC TV and radio.

      Hope that info helps

    2. Thanks for filling in the blanks there, Mark. The last hing we've seen her in over here was in the terrific documentary about the making of "The Stepford Wives" that was one of the special features on the latest DVD release. She looked terrific.
      I saw some of her Fairy liquid commercials on YouTube. I looked them up after seeing a Benny Hill spoof of them I thought was hilarious, but didn't know the product.

    3. By the way, "The Stepford Wives" is really one of those films that really seems to get better and better the older I get. Forbes suffered a lot of bad criticism at time of it's release, but he made a film that endures. Thanks for commenting, 66 (I've never seen International Velvet, but I remember the big publicity push it was given here in LA, only to have it sink before the summer was over).