Terence Rattigan

Terence Rattigan

writer, actor

Terence Rattigan was born on Jun 10, 1911 in UK. Terence Rattigan's big-screen debut came with Brighton Rock directed by John Boulting in 1947. Terence Rattigan is known for Brighton Rock directed by John Boulting, Richard Attenborough stars as Pinkie Brown and Hermione Baddeley as Ida Arnold. Terence Rattigan has got 1 awards and 6 nominations so far. The most recent award Terence Rattigan achieved is Cannes Film Festival. The upcoming new movie Terence Rattigan plays is The Deep Blue Sea which will be released on Nov 25, 2011.

Terence Mervyn Rattigan was born in London on June 10, 1911, the son of a career diplomat and serial philanderer whose indiscretions resulted in his being cashiered by the Foreign Office. As a member of the lower upper-middle class in the inter-war period, the young Rattigan received a first-rate education at Harrow and Trinity College, Oxford. His was a privileged, intellectual background that is reflected in his plays. For a decade after the Second World War, he was one of England's leading playwrights, but the eruption of the "kitchen-sink" school of English drama in the mid-1950s scuttled his critical reputation.Rattigan achieved his first success as a playwright at age 25 with the light comedy "French Without Tears" (1936), which was a smash in the West End. Determined to do more serious work, he wrote the satirical social drama "After the Dance" in 1939, which skewered the failure of the class of "Bright Young Things" to prevent another war. The advent of World War II truncated the play's run, but Rattigan would continue to taste sweet success for a full generation, alternating between comedies and dramas.In the post-war period, he established himself as a major English dramatist with "The Winslow Boy", "The Browning Version", "The Deep Blue Sea", and "Separate Tables", all of which were made into successful motion pictures. A Rattigan play displayed keen craftsmanship and finely-structured plots; emotion was hidden in the best English middle-class tradition, but was lurking in the depths. The typical Rattigan play was a sympathetic, witty study of middle-class people in emotional distress. There was often a love triangle or a general conflict in which decent people found themselves embroiled. These characters sublimated their emotions and passions; the psychic cost of repression was a focus and theme of Rattigan's work.Rattigan's themes were personal: the illogicality of love; the conflict between idealized love and love as realized in the here and now; the pain of lost promise; and the defeat of potential greatness by human weakness. The themes and leitmotifs in Rattigan's plays were found beneath the surface; nothing was worn on the sleeve. They were elucidated by the playwright's craft, through a well-constructed story and skillfully-observed characters.According to Rattigan's biographer Geoffrey Wansell, he had learned how to mask his feelings from his father, whose multiple love affairs, carried on in secret behind his wife's back, appalled his son. Also, Terence was a homosexual in an era rife with anti-gay sentiment; the persecution of those suffering from what was once termed "inversion" was all too real.Rattigan lived behind a mask (he was very discreet about his own same-sex affairs), as did the characters in his plays. Emotions were buried lest their display cause even more pain, or scandal. Wansell believes that his reticence stemmed from a deeply-rooted aversion to emotional engagement. "Behind the apparently carefree mask lived a man crying out to be loved and appreciated," Wansell wrote, "but a man who was also incapable of demonstrating that need."For a run of almost five straight years in the 1940s, Rattigan had plays appearing simultaneously on the boards of three adjacent West End theaters. In 1956 the English stage was revolutionized by John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger," in which emotions were (in the parlance of a later generation) allowed to "all hang out." Overnight, Rattigan's dreams of emotional repression were deemed old-fashioned. Dramatists, directors, and actors who stuck with the old "well-crafted", more subtle paradigm of drama were also deemed "old-fashioned" and suffered a professional eclipse. (Laurence Olivier, who had starred in Rattigan plays and movies made from his work, kept himself relevant by offering himself to Osborne, who crafted "The Entertainer" for him. It would be many years before his contemporaries John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson would make it out of the woods, outside of Shakespeare, in terms of contemporary drama. They appeared together in Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land" 20 years after the changing of the guard)."Look Back in Anger" was a cultural broadside against everything the Establishment represented, and Rattigan was very much part of that Establishment. In the introduction to his collected plays, published in 1959, Rattigan wrote of an archetypal playgoer, "Aunt Edna," whom he characterized as a "nice, respectable, middle-class, middle-aged maiden lady" to whom playwrights had to be responsive as she was the person who spent her money to go to the theater. What Rattigan was trying to say is that the theater must be responsive to its audience; to the new Turks, many of whom would later thrive in non-commercial, state-subsidized theater. Rattigan was a shameless old fart, pandering to the very class of people, the Aunt Ednas and the Miss Grundys, whom they despised and whose tastes, and the drama and comedies written to suit those tastes, debased the theater as an art form.Rattigan's reputation declined and, overnight, his plays were derided by the critics. A very sensitive man who had a terrible fear of failure, Rattigan's confidence declined along with his critical reputation. He retaliated the new kitchen-sink school in interviews and via dialogue in his new plays, with the result that he underscored the new generation's contempt of him. Rattigan transformed himself into a caricature of the kind of playwright the new English theater was rebelling against: conservative, staid, old-fashioned, valuing craft above feeling, with no empathy for the modern world or for the majority of Britons. To them, he represented the complacency of a moribund Tory- and toff-dominated Britain that was no longer relevant after the Suez debacle of 1956.Truthfully, among the post-1956 Rattigan plays are some of his finest work, including "Ross," "Man and Boy," and "Cause Celebre," but it didn't matter to the critics: he was considered hopelessly passé. Like the post- "The Night of the Iguana" Tennessee Williams, he was cruelly discarded as a contemporary artist of any relevance. He was a phantom of a past that vanished with Britain's world-power status after Suez.Rattigan was first diagnosed with leukemia in 1962; it went into remission in 1964, but he suffered a relapse in 1968. Despising the "Mod" Britain of the 1960s, he moved to Bermuda. In that decade he supported himself by writing screenplays, and for a while he enjoyed the status as the world's highest-paid screenwriter. He was knighted in 1972 and moved back to England. His critical reputation saw a minor revival shortly before his death from cancer in 1977, and a major revival in the early 21st century after Karel Reisz staged a revival of "The Deep Blue Sea." Although he was never as successful in the United States as he was in Britain, Rattigan is increasingly being viewed in his homeland as one of the 20th century's finest playwrights.

  • Birthday

    Jun 10, 1911
  • Place of Birth

    London, England, UK

Known For


1 wins & 6 nominations

Cannes Film Festival
The Browning Version (1951)
Winner - Best Screenplay
The Browning Version (1951)