17 April 2015

Derrick De Marney

Derrick De Marney (1906–1978) was a handsome and versatile English stage and film actor. Today, he is best known for his starring role as Robert Tisdall, wrongly accused of murder in Alfred Hitchcock's Young and Innocent (1937).

British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 1193. Photo: Gaumont British.

British handcoloured postcard in the Film Partners Series, no. PC 236. Photo: Gaumont British. Publicity still for Young and Innocent/The Girl Was Young (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937) with Nova Pilbeam.


Derrick De Marney was born in London, England, in 1906. He was the son of Violet Eileen Concanen and Arthur De Marney, and the grandson of noted Victorian lithographer Alfred Concanen.

Derrick appeared in repertory theatre from 1922 and hit the London stage four years later. In 1928, he made his film debut in the silent comedy Two Little Drummer Boys (G.B. Samuelson, 1928), co-starring with Georgie Wood and Alma Taylor. His debut was followed by roles in silent films like The Forger (G.B. Samuelson, 1928) starring Nigel Barrie and based on a novel Edgar Wallace.

His performance of ‘Young Mr Disraeli’ at the Kingsway and Piccadilly theatres brought him an offer of a long term film contract from Alexander Korda. For Korda’s Denham Studios, he appeared in the adventure film The Scarlet Pimpernel (Harold Young, 1934) starring Leslie Howard as the effete aristocrat who leads a double life, and the Science Fiction film Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936).

De Marney is perhaps best known for his starring role as Robert Tisdall, wrongly accused of murder in Alfred Hitchcock's Young and Innocent/The Girl Was Young (1937) with Nova Pilbeam. After Young and Innocent, he alternated between leading roles and supporting parts in films.

Other early film roles include Benjamin Disraeli (the role he had played on stage in Young Mr. Disraeli) in the successful historical film Victoria the Great (Herbert Wilcox, 1937), and its sequel, Sixty Glorious Years (Herbert Wilcox, 1938), both starring Anna Neagle as Queen Victoria.

British postcard.

British postcard.

British postcard.

The Gentle Sex

In 1941, Derrick de Marney formed with his brother, the actor Terence De Marney, Concanen Productions (named for their mother). They produced a number of wartime documentaries on the Polish Air Force, including The White Eagle (1942) and Diary of a Polish Airman (Eugeniusz Cekalski, 1942), as well as Leslie Howard's feature film The Gentle Sex (1943).

The Gentle Sex tells about the experiences of seven new recruits (played by a.o. Joan Greenwood, Rosamund John and Lili Palmer) to the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as they undergo basic training and receive their first assignments. Derrick himself directed the documentary shorts Malta G.C. (1942) and London Scrapbook (1942).

After the war, he played memorable title role in Uncle Silas/The Inheritance (Charles Frank, 1947), based on the Victorian Gothic mystery-thriller novel by the Irish writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu. De Marney played a sinister old fortune hunter plotting against a young woman played by Jean Simmons.

De Marney also produced and starred in the thrillers Latin Quarter (Vernon Sewell, 1945), No Way Back (Stefan Osiecki, 1949), which he also wrote, and which starred his brother Terence, She Shall Have Murder (Daniel Birt, 1950) featuring Rosamund John, and Meet Mr. Callaghan (Charles Saunders, 1954) starring as Peter Cheyney's hard-boiled detective Slim Callaghan, a role he had created on stage in 1952.

Later, he tended to concentrate on the theatre, only taking small roles in film and television. He continued to maintain diverse interests, De Marney even promoted a troupe of Javanese dancers he brought to Britain in the 1940s and 1950s.

His last role was in the horror film The Projected Man (Ian Curteis, 1966) starring Mary Peach. Derrick De Marney had a home in Kensington in London, but he was taken ill while staying with friends at Farnham in Surrey. He died of bronchopneumonia and asthma at the nearby Frimley Park Hospital in 1978. He was 71.

British postcard.

British postcard.

British postcard.

Scene from Young and Innocent/The Girl Was Young (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937). Source: brukkala's channel (YouTube).

Source: I.S. Mowis (IMDb), Brian McFarlane (Encyclopedia of British Film), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), BritMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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