02 August 2012

Sandra Dorne

British actress Sandra Dorne (1924 - 1992) was a sexy and glamorous bombshell. She was a popular pin-up early in her career, played leads in the 1950’s and later appeared in supporting roles.

Sandra Dorne
Dutch postcard. Photo: Eagle Lion.

Trollops and Good Time Girls
Sandra Dorne (sometimes Sandra Holt) was born as Joanna Smith in 1924 in Keighley, England. Early in her career she was a popular pin-up. Her film debut was in the crime film Eyes That Kill (1947, Richard M. Grey). The story is about the secretary for the Nazi Party (Robert Berkeley) who escapes from Hitler's bunker just before it is destroyed in the Battle of Berlin. He goes to England, where he sets up 'The Eyes That Kill,' an organization devoted to building up a Fourth Reich. Dorne trained at the Rank Organisation's 'charm school'. The platinum blonde starlet went on to play supporting parts in some major films and female leads in several minor films of the late 1940's and early 1950's and became known as the ‘poor man’s Diana Dors’. Interesting is the working class drama Holiday Week (1952, Arthur Crabtree). Michael P. Rogers reviews at AllMovie: "It is gritty and rather sad, but presents a frank and compassionate female perspective on the traps' of sex and marriage. Lisa Daniely is affecting as the thoughtful heroine, and Sandra Dorne delightful as her racy, carefree, girlfriend." The following year her breakthrough came with Peter Brooks' authentic rendering of John Gay's 18th century musical The Beggar's Opera (1953), starring Laurence Olivier. In this Technicolor production she played the slatternly Suky Tawdry. That year she also appeared as Marilyn, the sexy young wife in Marilyn/Roadhouse Girl (1953, Wolf Rilla), which seems heavily indebted to James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Diana Dors
Diana Dors. Austrian postcard by Bild- und Ton-Postkartenverlag P. Weizmann, Wien, no. 570. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Husky Voice
During the late 1950’s and 1960’s Sandra Dorne appeared in supporting roles, but with her husky voice she always had special 'presence'. Hal Erickson at AllMovie observes: "Though never as famous as such sex symbol contemporaries as Diana Dors and Marilyn Monroe, Dorne worked steadily in films well into the late '80s, nearly always cast as trollops, good-time girls, and 'other women'." She was seen in the excellent war drama Orders to Kill (1958, Anthony Asquith), but she specialized in mystery, suspense and horror titles like Devil Doll (1964, Lindsay Shonteff) with Yvonne Romain. As she got older the film work dried up, but she still found work for British television. She appeared in such series as The Avengers (1961-1963), The Third Man (1965) and Z Cars (1967). In the later stages of her film career, she was seen in such heavy-breathing melodramas as All Coppers Are? (1972, Sidney Hayers) as the mother of Julia Foster. Her final film role was in the black comedy Eat the Rich (1987, Peter Richardson). Her co-star Nosher Powell later remembered her fondly in his autobiography Nosher!: "bubbly blonde actress ... now as fat as a juicy pork chop, but still with that oomph going for her". Sandra Dorne died in a London hospital from cancer of the kidney in 1992. Since 1954 she had been married to actor Patrick Holt, who was left devastated. He died 10 months later.

Just Her Money. Curious music clip by Joe Mordecai and John Biebel with Sandra Dorne as the cover star. Source: Ichigatsujohn (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Britmovie, Fifties Blondes, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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