Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In praise of Dora Bryan

One of my more recherché favourite blogs is The Downstairs Lounge, which celebrates British comedy records. A new post there looks at Dora Bryan and her 1964 album Dora.

On the one hand:
Dora Bryan has a singing voice that is far from subtle. It is hard to know how precisely to describe it for the uninitiated. It’s sort of… part someone trying to grind diamonds in a domestic food blender, part someone else attempting to cut through Italian marble with an blunt electric kitchen knife.
But on the other:
Dora is a record of a star of stage, screen, cinema and TV at the very height of her powers. An acquired taste her voice may be, but the sheer variety of musical styles and sketches on the record are a reward worth exploring.
I have always had a soft spot for Dora Bryan because of her film appearances - both as Rita Tushingham's mother in A Taste of Honey and this cameo as Rose, the tart with a heart of gold, in Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol from 1948.

Dora Bryan is on screen for just over four minutes but you do not forget her.

A couple of stories about this scene...

Dora Bryan turned up for the audition in her best coat and Carol Reed's reaction was: "Very good. That is just right for the part."

And when Reed had to defend the film against cuts the American censors, he said Rose's "I know your Daddy, dear" was explained by the fact that this was a small, villagey part of London and all the inhabitants would know one another.

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