Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Marianne Stone

When a historian of the British film industry was interviewed on a Radio 4 arts programme a few years back, he was asked who he would most like to meet whom he hadn't yet interviewed. The surprising answer, ahead of several starry names, was "Marianne Stone". 

The reason was the number of connections she had with other performers. Not only did she appear in over two hundred films from the 1940s to the 1980s - though seldom in a featured role - she was also married to the  film critic, commentator and occasional actor Peter Noble. Between them, they must have met everyone of anyone of significance in British movies, and many stars before they became famous.

Someone needs to write a study of the British film companies, like Butcher's, who did not make major features, but who provided a steady supply of "B" pictures to the UK circuits. (The traditional cinema programme would consist of a major film, more often than not a Hollywood feature, preceded by advertisements, the "B" picture, or second feature, and trailers for forthcoming presentations.) These second features, supported for many years by the quota, had an after-life on TV when its rapid expansion gobbled up more material than could be provided new. There was some dire product, but some minor gems -allowing for the minuscule budgets - as well.

A Butcher's movie could virtually be guaranteed to include Marianne Stone in the cast, typically as a secretary or receptionist. I guess it was reliable and convenient work for her, and she in turn could be relied on  to give a solid performance with the minimum of fuss. 

She died just before Christmas, and a chapter of film history died with her. There are obituaries in the Times and Independent. Marianne Stone's credits, and many of her uncredited appearances, are listed by IMDb.

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