Keeping up with nearly 60 years of Freddie Jones’ supporting roles…
Returning to two favourite British 1970s films and much more from the late British character actor, Freddie Jones.
Just as the world was reeling over the loss of actor Rip Torn, another well-known face was reported to have passed away. As in a double blow to the world of entertainment, Freddie Jones, a famous British character actor also sadly died the same day. Jones had his feature film debut in 1967 and he had worked up until last year. Jones then aged 90, was a regular in the British soap, Emmerdale (2005-2018) as Sandy Thomas.
More surprisingly, he’d starred in this soap role for 13 years and had only recently turned down an extension to his contract with this British TV Series. However, during his many, many years (and more) of telly and film, Jones worked with everyone from David Niven to Ringo Starr and Judy Matheson to Shirley Knight. Jones had also popped up as a guest star in many British TV favourite series.
In his early days working on television, Jones had starred in a variety of genres. This included a lead role in a Sweeney Todd production in Mystery and Imagination (1966-70) and on Children’s BBC in Jackanory (1970-71) as a presenter reading children’s stories to the camera. In British films, he worked with Oliver Reed and Ian McShane (his later Lovejoy co-star) in Sitting Target (1972), Michael Caine in Kidnapped (1971) and even a Hammer film with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973).
Also in films, Jones had been acting support to more than a few big names in Hollywood and beyond, with films with American actors Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, John Hurt and Charlton Heston to his credit. As a character actor, he often starred with actors and actresses more than once during his prolific career, with these famous stars including Lesley Anne Down, Anthony Hopkins and Ian McShane. Jones also filmed Ladies in Lavender (2004) with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Of his role with these two great Dames, IMDb stated he was reported to say;
Piss-poor part, but I’ll do it because I’m in love with Judi Dench.
More recently my Darlin Husband and I spotted him in an all-star cast including Olivia De Havilland, Lesley Anne Down and Bill Bixby. This, as he starred as a bumbling police constable in the Agatha Christie whodunnit, Murder is Easy (1982). Other roles from the eighties, my ultra observant (and often more character actor aware) Darlin Husband remembered him in included Krull (1983) and Dune (1984).
Jones appeared later as a guest star in many British series including Midsomer Murders (2004). He also starred as a number of characters in Heartbeat (1993-2009) and Casualty (2004). However, after checking out his filmography, these are my two favourite films from this actor…
Juggernaut Official Trailer #1 – Anthony Hopkins Movie (1974) HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers
Juggernaut (1974) or Terror on the Britannic – as it’s also known – was a timeless British disaster film with a cast including Richard Harris, Anthony Hopkins (Jones also worked with him in All Creatures Great and Small the following year), Omar Sharif, Shirley Knight, Simon MacCorkindale and Roy Kinnear.
The 1974 film tells of a blackmailer calling himself “Juggernaut” (and this has to be the coolest name ever for a blackmailer) a blackmailer, who requests 500,000 quid or he will set off seven bombs on board the Britannic cruise boat.
He has even rigged up a few bombs just to go off to show he means business. The blackmailer saying once he receives the requested ransom money he will mansplain how to disarm those bombs. With 1200 passengers on board it’s a race against time.
Jones has a crucial role in this film as Sidney Buckland, a bomb disposal officer who gives some helpful advice to the powers that be. But to tell you more about this film and the plot would venture into spoilers. However, I will say it’s the police headed by Anthony Hopkins and always wonderful Richard Harris to the rescue.
It appears Freddie Jones fought off strong competition for this 1974 role. These big names considered for this role included Jones’ previous co-stars Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasence. Freddie was surprisingly not seen in the film trailer.
The Man Who Haunted Himself (1974)
The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) – Trailer, The Celluloid Highway
But in another of my favourite of his roles, Freddie Jones also starred with another of those Wild Geese (1978) mercenaries. But it seems this was 2 out of 3 of these actors, as there is no mention of a Richard Burton film in his film credits. He starred with Roger Moore in another British film, The Man who Haunted Himself. This film was adapted from the 1957 book The Strange Case of Mr Pelham.
The film tells of Moore as a man – with a moustache – who after a near fatal car accident believes a doppelganger is taking over his life. With his friends telling him of events that he has attended, and a woman claiming to be his mistress. But he doesn’t recall any of these and leading Pelham to doubt his sanity. Jones played Pelham’s psychiatrist with Freddie donning a pair of sunglasses and a great wee Scottish accent for his role as Dr Harris.
More recently Freddie even had the fortune of meeting my little Juggernaut crazy sister at a film convention. But to me, Freddie Jones will always be remembered as a pillar of strength to then future Oscar Winners including Cage, Caine, Dench, Heston, Hopkins and more.