A star from the golden age of Hollywood as well as a lauded veteran of the London and New York stage, Claire Bloom’s work features quite a few fine frock flicks. She’s been in so many historical movies and TV shows, I honestly couldn’t find photos for all of them! But here are some of the most memorable.
The Lady Anne in Richard III (1955)
Barsine in Alexander the Great (1956)
Roxane in Producers’ Showcase: Cyrano de Bergerac (1955)
Juliet in Producers’ Showcase: Romeo and Juliet (1957)
Queen Victoria in Robert Montgomery Presents: Victoria Regina (1957)
Katya in The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
Bonnie Brown in The Buccaneer (1958)
Anna Karenina in Anna Karenina (1961)
Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1962)
Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House (1973)
Ella in “An Imaginative Woman” in Wessex Tales (1973)
Katharine of Aragon in The BBC Television Shakespeare: Henry VIII (1979)
Gertrude in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980)
Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited (1981)
Claire Bloom said of this role in one of her memoirs:
“I still find it puzzling when I am told I played a manipulative and heartless woman; that is not how I saw her. Lady Marchmain is deeply religious, and her dilemma includes trying to raise a willful brood of children on her own, while instilling them with her rigid observance of the Catholic code. Sebastian is both an alcoholic and a homosexual, and from her point of view, he lives in a state of mortal sin. She has to fight for his soul by any means in her power, with the knowledge that her efforts may lead to his destruction. A born crusader, the Marchioness confronts her difficult choices head on; her rigidity of purpose, which I don’t in any way share, is understandable in context. The aspect that rings most true is her sense of being an outsider, a Catholic in Protestant England. Not such a leap from being a Jew in Protestant England as one would imagine.”
Queen in Cymbeline (1982)
Constance in The Life and Death of King John (1984)
Fanny Nightingale in Florence Nightingale (1985)
Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst (1986)
Joy Davidman in Shadowlands (1986)
Czarina Alexandra in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)
Lady Delamere in Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun (1988)
Lady Emma Darlington in The Lady and the Highwayman (1988)
Queen Mary in The King’s Speech (2010)
Maggie in Miss Dalí (2018)
Aunt Mary in Summer of Rockets (2019)
What’s your favorite of Claire Bloom’s many frock flick roles?
It’s probably not appropriate (era wise) for this blog, but check out her Mary Quant designed wardrobe in the Robert Wise directed “The Haunting,” 1963. Outstanding!
I’m sorry to say something negative in my first comment on this site, but Claire Bloom is not pictured in your entry on Shadowlands–that’s Debra Winger, who you also mentioned in this post as being in the later, 1993, movie of the same name.
No, I believe that’s the correct photo; if you look closely, that’s Joss Ackland as C.S. Lewis. :)
Oh! It’s a different picture now! Before it was just of Debra Winger, now I see two characters, and one is definitely played by Claire Bloom. Thanks!
No worries! :)
I think that pic of Shadowlands is Debra Winger rather than Claire Bloom.
Can’t be, because Lewis is definitely not Anthony Hopkins in that pic, and he played Lewis in the big-screen version opposite Debra Winger.
Omar Sharif as Tsar Nicholas II? That’s some weird casting!
I remember Bloom in the Bucaneer, I was so pleased that for once the spirited brunette got the guy instead of the bland blond.
Another of my mother’s favorites. I would love to see C.B. in “A Doll’s House.”
There were two adaptations of the play released around the same time– one starring Jane Fonda and David Warner, directed by Joseph Losey, and the one with Bloom and Anthony Hopkins, directed by Patrick Garland. I saw both, and much preferred the Bloom version, which stayed truer to Ibsen (Losey took HUGE liberties and rewrote a lot) and had a better performance than Fonda gave. Unfortunately, the Losey/Fonda version is the more widely seen (it actually premiered on network TV before a theatrical run) and the Bloom version is hard to find (i’m not sure if it’s been released on home video).
I just checked, and the Bloom version was released on home video about 20 years ago but hard to find. However, it IS available to watch online in a slightly soft but watchable print on archive.org.
Hopefully, it’s okay to post this link:
And she was strangely cast as Merle Oberon’s mother in the TV movie loosely based on Merle’s life, Queenie (1987), (with Mia Sara)
QUEENIE (a roman a clef written by her nephew Michael Korda) refers to Merle Oberon’s secret mixed-race parentage, but the truth was way more complicated and tragic, as a family member eventually found out.
Not only was Oberon’s mother, Charlotte Selby Thompson, of mixed white, Sri Lankan and Maori heritage– which was considered at the time to be something to be concealed– she wasn’t actually her birth mother, but Oberon’s grandmother.
Oberon’s birth mother was actually Charlotte’s 12-year-old daughter Constance, who was passed off as Oberon’s older half-sister. And Constance herself was the product of Charlotte having been raped at 14 by an Anglo-Irish plantation foreman named Selby. (I’m not sure if Charlotte married Selby afterward, or just took his name.)
Years later, Constance’s son– who had always believed himself to be Oberon’s nephew– did research and found that he and his siblings were actually Oberon’s younger half-siblings.
From what I’ve read, I don’t know who Oberon’s biological father was– but under the circumstances, hopefully it wasn’t actually Arthur O’Brien Thompson, the man who passed himself off as her father.
I am not ashamed to admit that I loved The Lady and the Highwayman when it mysteriously showed up on CBS one Sunday night.
CBS had done well with a previous Barbara Cartland adaptation, A HAZARD OF HEARTS, on their CBS SUNDAY MOVIE a little over a year earlier, and this was a followup from the same production team.
The real mystery is why Cartland’s title wasn’t retained as a selling point for her fans.
But I guess CUPID RIDES PILLION was considered too confusing, and the production replacement title DANGEROUS LOVE sounded too much like a steamy contemporary thriller– so it became THE LADY AND THE HIGHWAYMAN, which sort of just spelled it out.
The major reason I remember this movie is my grandmother had mercifully passed away that morning after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, and I was staring at the TV that evening trying to stop thinking about it for a couple of hours.
Definitely not the way someone wants to view any film, even a Barbara Cartland TV-movie adaptation.
Having seen a lot of her earlier work, I’m tempted to just pick one of them, but she was a superb Queen Mother in The King’s Speech.