Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Patrick Allen R.I.P.

I just learned of the death of British actor Patrick Allen at age 79. He guest-starred in a lot of the great English adventure and sci-fi series of the day, including THE AVENGERS, U.F.O., THE SAINT and THRILLER, as well as dozens of films, including THE WILD GEESE, THE SEA WOLVES and Hitchcock's DIAL M FOR MURDER. He was perfectly at home playing tough guys, not just because of his handsome, craggy looks, but also his rich voice. Man, what a voice this guy had. It was so deep and strong that Allen probably made more dough over the years as a dubbing and voiceover artist than as a working actor.

In fact, I recognize Allen primarily from two films...and he only appears in one of them. He stars opposite his wife Sarah Lawson in ISLAND OF THE BURNING DOOMED, a silly but cool Planet Films science fiction movie from 1967 that has also been seen as ISLAND OF THE BURNING DAMNED and, more commonly, NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT. He and Lawson are innkeepers on a small British island that finds itself in the middle of a brutal heat wave in the dead of winter. Peter Cushing has a supporting role, and Christopher Lee plays a brusque scientist who discovers the cause of the insane heat: invading aliens disguised as rocks. Allen has a sweaty affair with comely guest Jane Merrow amid the melodramatics.

An even better film is Hammer's THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, which is one of the best films that venerable British studio ever made. Christopher Lee has said it's his favorite of all the Hammer productions he acted in. However, Allen doesn't act in the film. He dubbed all the dialogue spoken by the young male lead, Leon Greene. It's a great horror picture, and Allen's vocal performance adds much to the drama. He also narrated the trailer and many others of the era.

No comments: