The other evening I watched Sir John Mills’ Moving Memories
and I learned a lot. For all the films I’ve watched and admired John Mills in, I had no idea that he started out as a song and dance man and also excelled at all sports. No doubt that explains how he was still so spry at ninety. Oh, and he played the piano, too. Wearing a bright yellow v-necked pullover, looking very dapper with his white hair and neat beard, Sir John spoke to camera about his life and career, with many anecdotes about films and film actors. What made this extra interesting was that he took a lot of film himself so we saw not only his family but the stars relaxing and clowning for his camera. That’s where the glamour comes in. Not a word you’d usually associate with John Mills but seeing this brought home just how glamorous a film star’s life was in the 1950s and 60s. Imagine you were one of his children (I’ll be Hayley, please) and the weekend guests included Laurence Olivier, David Niven or Rex Harrison. You’d fly in luxury to exotic places like Tahiti. You’d have wonderful boating holidays. You’d live in beautiful houses. Yet your parents would try to make your life as normal as possible. It looks now like a dream world and John Mills hadn’t a bad word to say about anybody.
John Mills made his first film in 1932 and his last appearance in 2001. Did you know he had an unattributed part in The Parent Trap, playing a golf caddy? I noticed it in the lengthy filmography. I always associate him with This Happy Breed, Ice Cold in Alex and so on. Richard Attenborough said that his best role was in Hobson’s Choice, which I’ve never seen. So off I go to request it from LoveFilm.