East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Inhuman beauty – Kathleen Byron

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I’m re-watching a number of Powell & Pressburger movies, these nights.
It started with an article I read on the website of the British Film Institute. That made me re-watch A Matter of Life and Death, which led to a post on my Italian blog, and a mention of my favorite Powell & Pressburger movie, Black Narcissus – so I re-watched that one too, and I will post on my Italian blog about it too.
Both movies feature an actress I always found marvelous, but I never followed very much – Kathleen Byron.
She was absolutely beautiful in such a strange, somewhat disquieting way.

Katie 080109a

Born in 1921, she was 25 when Powell & Pressuburger cast her as an angel in A Matter of Life and Death, in which she shines for her glacial and somewhat otherworldly beauty. This being the other world, Kathleen Byron always appears in black and white in this movie.


But it is in fact in her next role, that of Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus that Byron shines and she really really made an impression on a very young me.
As the neurotic, unstable, repressed and ultimately crazy Sister Ruth, Kathleen Byron is both stunning and scary, and steals the film from the rest of the cast.


Indeed, one remembers Byron more than the lead Deborah Kerr – and apparently sparks flew on the set, as Kerr was Powell’s former lover, and Byron was Powell’s current lover.
Lucky guy, Powell.

Kathleen-Byron-Black-Narcissus-1947 (2)

And this is basically it.
There is a movie featuring both Kathleen Byron and Margaret Lockwood that I will have to watch at all costs – because it features two of my favorite actresses.
I adore this woman, and I wanted a good excuse to post a few pictures of her on Karavansara.
Hope you don’t mind.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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