Ms. Richard played supporting roles in numerous movies, most dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s. They still appear occasionally on late-night British television. It is fairly rare to see them broadcast in the US, though it appears that some movies of the Carry On series air here now and then.
All of Ms. Richard's movies (see film details) are obtainable on PAL and NTSC video format from various specialty stores or catalogs in the UK or North America. I've found the British Gourmet shop in Scottsdale, Arizona (yes, Arizona) to be an especially reliable source of old British movies and TV shows. (This is not a commercial endorsement--just my own experience.)
Are You Being Served?
Bless This House
Carry On, Girls
Carry On, Matron
Doctor in Clover
No Blade of Grass
On the Buses
I've been informed by a Beatles fan that in 1964 Ms. Richard worked with the Fab Four on the movie production Help!, which was released in 1965. But, alas, as Wendy herself confirmed in her book, the scene "ended up on the cutting room floor". However, evidence of the lost scene remains. Please visit Miss Jackson's Video Vault for a concise write-up of what it was all about and some additional shots of Wendy with one of the musicians. Mark Lewisohn's excellent reference "The Complete Beatles Chronicle" (p. 191) notes that work on her ill-fated scene took two and a half shooting days. It commenced on Thursday, 22 April 1965, continued on Friday, and then wrapped early the next Tuesday, 28 April.
And it seems that in late 2007 proper recognition for Wendy's never-seen contribution has finally appeared! A remastered version of Help! has been released on DVD and the two-disc set includes loads of supplementary material. One particular short (4-minute) video piece entitled "A Missing Scene", is an interview with Wendy about her experience on the set working with the lads from Liverpool. The piece also includes some excellent black-and-white stills of her in-character as Lady Macbeth. Whether one should watch the Wendy-less movie itself is largely up to the conscience of the individual fan, but the DVD set is worth the purchase just for the interview.
Although Wendy mentioned it only rarely in interviews, she also had an early brush with the then-new James Bond phenomenon. The topic was raised mostly recently in a short article in Big On TV magazine in mid-2006, which notes: "She says she was approached years ago and did an audition. 'It went well, but I wanted to do comedy. I was daft.' " In light of this experience, is there a Wendy fan who can't help wondering "what if" Wendy had made it as a Bond girl back in the heyday of the franchise? Had Wendy captured that opportunity, which 007 movie and role might she have been placed in?
Let's examine some of the possibilities, one movie at a time --
The audition evidently occurred when she was 19, which would have meant the latter half of 1962 or early 1963 -- too late for the first Bond movie Dr. No, already released by then.
From Russia With Love was the second in the series, released in 1963. The actresses playing Miss Moneypenny and Sylvia Trench had been established from the previous film, and the girls cast as the two gypsies were likely chosen for their dark Eastern European looks; however, the film's lead female would be a handsome blonde. The role was filled by Italian actress Daniela Bianchi, but the part certainly didn't require a European actress, since it's said that Grace Kelly, an American, was considered for that part early on. Bianchi was only a year older than Wendy and, at the time, she seems to have been unknown, outside a few bit roles in Italian cinema. Might Wendy have been the Russian cypher clerk Tatiana Romanova, instead?
The next chance -- and perhaps a more likely one -- would have been in the third movie, Goldfinger. Released in 1964, this film offered a large and varied set of female roles, any of which Wendy might easily have filled. That said, she probably wouldn't have been considered for the lead, playing P. Galore. The part appears to have required an older woman (and Honor Blackman is 16 years Wendy's senior), plus Blackman was specifically slotted for the role, since she was enjoying substantial popularity thanks to her work as Cathy Gale on The Avengers television program. The character of Tilly Masterson also might not have been suitable for Wendy: even though the actress who got the role, Tania Mallet, was English, about the same age, also a model, and unknown in cinema and TV, the role itself appears to have required some non-trivial automotive skills -- and Wendy never learned to drive a car. On the other hand, Jill Masterson seems to have been a straightforward role that Wendy could easily have done. It was played of course by Shirley Eaton (a Londoner six years older than Wendy), who's had no small degree of recognition ever since, all because of that scene where she was painted gold and her character left for dead in Bond's hotel room. Just as suited for young Wendy would have been the role of Bond's masseuse, Dink, who was played by British actress Margaret Nolan, a model and actress exactly Wendy's age, who'd had only bit parts in TV and film up until this time. Indeed, Nolan tested for Eaton's role first, showing that a young relatively untested actress might have taken either part. (Incidentally, Nolan also had a part in a Beatle's movie, though unlike Wendy's work with the Fab Four, Nolan's part made it to the final cut. She also appeared in two movies that Wendy worked on as well: Carry On Girls and Carry On Matron.)
The fourth Bond movie, released in 1964, was Thunderball, which seemed to offer fewer parts that Wendy might potentially have taken. The lead females roles were both cast as Continental women, though one lesser part, that of Patricia Fearing, Bond's sanatorium nurse, was played by Molly Peters, an unknown English actress of about Wendy's age. However, though Wendy wore many a skimpy costume in her early career, your webmeister would guess her personal reluctance to disrobe for the camera would have prevented her from accepting this role.
Following in 1967 was You Only Live Twice, another film of limited opportunity since all but one of the female roles were, by virtue of the story, Asian. The exception was the part of Helga Brandt, played by Karin Dor, a statuesque German actress who already had wide film experience. I think that role of a sophisticated villainess could only have gone to an older actress -- not that age makes that much of a difference; rather, it just seems that in the world of Bond, especially early on, female "bad guys" just seem to have been cast that way.
Though 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service offered a number of non-speaking female roles as the girls at Blofeld's clinic having their allergies "treated", the real prize was the leading lady part of Teresa di Vicenzoas. It was a marvelously complex role, played adeptly by Diana Rigg (an English actress a few years older than Wendy), who had done at that time only a modest amount of film and television work -- though the latter did include a hugely popular stint as Mrs. Peel on The Avengers. Even so, your webmeister can think of no reason why Wendy would not have been up to the part, had she been considered.
The Man With The Golden Gun, released in 1974, featured female agent Mary Goodnight, a role that Wendy would have been well suited for, both professionally and physically. The actress playing Bond's sidekick would have needed to be comfortable in both dramatic and comedic scenes -- Wendy had had experience with both kinds of work already by now -- as well as look attractive in a swimsuit, a challenge which any review of Wendy as Miss Brahms circa 1974 will have shown her to have been well up to meeting. The part in the film was played by Britt Ekland, an established Swedish actress who was only about six months older than Wendy -- and who delivered her lines on occasion in a Scandinavian accent, which seems odd considering that Goodnight was British.
Start the Revolution Without Me
N.L.'s Animal House
No Blade of Grass
A Fish Called Wanda
Jamie Lee Curtis
No Blade of Grass
The Bourne Ultimatum
X-Men: First Class
No Blade of Grass
She's Having A Baby
Doctor in Clover
Shirley Anne Field
Only When I Laugh
Doctor In Clover
As the name implies, this is a detective movie, and has been described as "whimsical' and as a "good satire" of such films. It involves a nightclub comedian who acts out his interest in private detecting. Anyone familiar with the genre will feel right at home.
Ms. Richard played Anne Scott, a be-spectacled secretary with a Jane Fonda hairdo and tight polyester blouse. She appeared near the end of the movie and absolutely steals the all-too-brief scene in a marvelous verbal pas de deux with the protagonist. She's on-screen for all of two minutes, but Wend did a fine job of portraying a smart, independent young woman, unintimidated by the fast-talking Eddie and able to dish it right back at him. In an interview she did in 2008, Wendy spoke on her appearance in the movie: "We only did one scene together, but it was based on a famous one between Bogart and Bacall in To Have and Have Not . . . I didn't realize how good it was until I went to the premiere and all the press flocked around me."
Wendy's performance was all the more impressive considering that the scene was shot almost entirely as one long unbroken take. She would later recall it as a "brilliant little cameo part which I was fortunate enough to get, and from that one scene I got so much work."
Interestingly, she played a Londoner, not a Liverpudlian, but without the heavy Cockney accent so evident in many of her other roles. Some of Anne's best sayings may be heard on the Character Quotes page.
The movie was made in the UK, shot in and around Liverpool, and was released in 1971 by Columbia Pictures. Available on VHS video in both NTSC and PAL formats. Oddly, a commercial DVD version in Spanish was issued around 2008 (before a Region 1 English-language edition, which finally came out in early 2009).
As of 2009, a clip of Wendy's performance may be seen on YouTube.
The movie starred Albert Finney.
Musical score by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
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This is an interesting short piece from the Seneca Films company which does not seem to be listed in any publicized compilation of Wendy's work to date. Its year of production is not certain -- there is no registration or copyright date displayed within the work itself. Your webmeister estimates it was shot in, or close by, 1964, judging from Wendy's appearance. Considering its length -- a mere 13 minutes -- it was probably never intended for theatrical showings, but rather as an speciality educational movie with a limited institutional distribution.
The theme of the film is tolerance for the physically handicapped. A young man, Max (played by John Hurt), walks only with the aid of crutches, and he is nearly run down unintentionally on a deserted rural road by a group of youngsters on motorbikes. The last of the bikers (played by Nicholas Edmett) stops to see if he's okay, offering apologies and a ride to wherever Max was headed. The other bikers re-appear and one of them suggests that maybe Max would like to go with them to the social outing they were all headed to. At the cellar club are a great many other youth, as well as a rock and roll band. Max joins the kids at their table and he has the opportunity to talk about the special school he attends and his fellow students. By the end of the film, the other characters' opinions of him have clearly changed for the better as they realize he really isn't all that different from them. The film ends on a positive note, with Edmett's character dropping Max off at his school and suggesting that now that they've made contact, they should keep in touch.
A little jarring at first to a modern viewer, the film makes far more sense with a few insights into the culture of the time. Although Max's disability is never precisely stated, his condition (and that of his fellow students whom he describes) certainly appears to be cerebral palsy. The motorbiking youth refer quite casually to "spastics" (a term which in Britain of the 1960s lacked the severely offensive connotation it gained in later years), and they ask Max about the "spastics school" or "Delarue", which was in fact an actual boarding school at the time for pupils afflicted with celebral palsy. The institution was established by the UK Spastics Society (who are acknowledged in the film's closing credits) and was located in the town of Tonbridge, some 30 miles southeast of London.
Wendy appears about eight minutes into the film. She and another girl (played by Pauline Collins) are dancing together at the club, obviously waiting impatiently for their boyfriends (the motorbike lads). Wendy's dressed in an attractive one-piece red dress and wears exactly the same short, neck-length blonde hairstyle as may be seen during her appearance in 1964's Danger Man, though her long-chained gold locket appears to be different from the one she wears in that television show. The two girls are about to leave the dance, when they meet all the boys coming down the stairs. Wendy's character is introduced to Max as "Joyce", and she proceeds to scold Edmett's character for their tardiness. (Watch for one of the boys behind Edmett as Wendy talks; he turns to his buddy and playfully gives the universal "yack-yack-yack" hand signal.) Both girls then return to the table with the boys, and participate in the discussion with Hurt's character about the Delarue school and his fellow pupils there. It's mostly a matter of Wendy and the other youngsters asking a few questions, leading into Max's extensive description of the school and students.
A sampler of some of Wendy's lines:
It is interesting to note that even though actress Collins has marginally higher billing in the credits -- as well as more lines -- it's Wendy who ends up seated right next to Hurt, immediately on his right. One might speculate that the producers were well aware of the fresh-faced blonde's fame of only two years earlier as a music artist and leveraged Wendy's real-life pop star status to position her closest to the disabled protagonist, as a subtle signal of social acceptance that would have been immediately apparent to viewers back in the mid-1960s.
The music for the short film is credited to a group called "The Impacts", though it's not clear if they were the actual band seen on stage for much of the club scene.
Although copies of this short movie still exist on film, it has been digitized and remains available for academic use via the JiSC Mediahub service.
By coincidence, Wendy's character's name, Joyce, will also be the name of the character she plays beginning in 1965 in the television series The Newcomers.
The star of The Contact is eminent English actor, John Hurt (now CBE), in what must be very nearly the first film he ever made. He was still a mostly unknown actor at this point; it would not be until 1966 when Hurt would be widely recognized for his role as Richard Rich in A Man For All Seasons.
Also to be seen is a very young Pauline Collins (now OBE), another
Briton later famous for her starring role in Shirley Valentine
(1989), as well as appearing more recently with
Gillian Anderson in the BBC's
Bleak House in 2005.
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One of the naughty and bawdy comedies in the Carry On movie series. The plot of this, the 25th of the 31 movies shot, involves a beauty pageant at a seaside resort/hotel and opposition to same by the local women's lib group. Lots of bosom jokes, that sort of thing.
Ms. Richard played Ida Downs, one of the pageant contestants. Her appearances are scattered throughout the length of the movie. The role wasn't a major one, so she was spared from involvement in the silliest of the scenes.
Made in the UK, Carry On Girls was filmed on location in the south English resort town of Brighton. According to Barbara Windsor's memoirs, all the location filming was accomplished in two rather chilly days in May of 1973. Available on video (NTSC and PAL) and Region 2 DVD.
Pictures of Ms. Richard from this movie seem to be fairly rare. Rigelford's book Carry On Laughing does have a mediocre publicity still of all the girls (and one guy . . .) in evening gowns, but the picture is not a particularly good one of Wendy. One can get a glimpse of her on a number of the promotional lobby cards that were printed up for the movie.
Also appearing (prominently) in this movie is Barbara Windsor, who in
1995 took over the role of the Mitchell brothers' mother on
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The 23rd movie in the Carry On series (and considered one of the bawdier of the bunch), this one involves monkeyshines at a maternity hospital. Ms. Richard has one scene, about ten minutes into the movie, where she played a new mother "Miss Willing" being discharged from the hospital with her new baby. She jokes with the matron [head nurse] and then passes one of the Carry On regulars, who complements her baby and asks to hold it -- but then gives it back when it appears the baby needs its nappy [diaper] changed. It's a short scene (which sort of establishes the tone of the whole film) -- but cute.
Also made in the UK, and released in early 1972 (though filming actually started in mid-October of 1971, according to Rigelford's Carry On Laughing reference). Available on video (NTSC and PAL) and on Region 2 DVD. The original trailer for the movie can be seen on YouTube. Wendy appears about 30 seconds into it.
Barbara Windsor also appears in this one.
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A feature-length version of a popular British situation comedy of the same name. The adventures of a bus driver, Stan, and his conductor, Jack, both of whom are fairly coarse and lecherous characters. The movie generally revolves around their amorous pursuits and attempts to get over on the omnipresent bus inspector. Stan's dreary home life is something of a subplot.
Ms. Richard appeared about a half hour into the film in a scene about 2 minutes long. Watch for the stop at the launderette (shades of Pauline!). Stan had earlier dropped off his washing there (in violation of regs), and now whilst collecting his laundry, he picks up the wrong bundle of clothes. He is relieved of the bag by the bus inspector, who is then caught red-handed by the owner of the clothes (Wendy), a young woman clad in mini-skirt and boots, with very dark brunette hair. As usual, her voice is quite distinctive, right from the initial "That's him! He stole my washing!" She executed the role flawlessly and it may be saying something for the rest of the movie to note that her delivery of the lines as she reclaims her laundry is pretty much the high point of the film.
Made in the UK, and released in mid-1971. Available on video (NTSC and PAL) and Region 2 DVD.
In the credits at the end, Wendy's last name is misspelled as
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Based on a 1956 novel by John Christopher, this movie is a dark and depressing eco-thriller directed by Cornel Wilde. An Asian grass-killing virus is spreading around the world, threatening food supplies and sowing panic within human societies, all of which depend on cereal crops. An urban family flees London as civilization collapses around them. The protagonist John Constance (Nigel Davenport) and his wife, children, and a friend, journey north, hoping to reach his brother's farm, where they may be able to ride out both the plague and the disintegration of society. Along the way they are confronted with mobs, robbers, and motorcycle gangs, not to mention the desperate actions of their own government.
As an ecological warning, the movie obligingly dwells often and long (perhaps too long) on pollution and overcrowding: smokestacks, filthy water, dead fish, traffic jams, and so on. Overall, I thought the film very badly edited; the camera work leaves much to be desired, the screenplay is marginal at best, and it seems to end abruptly and unsatisfactorily. On the other hand, No Blade of Grass offers some remarkable and haunting images: a polite and neatly uniformed London Bobbie with an FN-FAL casually slung over his shoulder; refugees pushing baby carriages and carrying suitcases across the isolated moors; a still, green, idyllic hillside across which sound the echoes of a screaming woman. As one might expect in such an apocalyptic story, everyone carries firearms, and the guns seem to rarely grow cold.
Ms. Richard played Clara Pirrie, the wayward wife of Andy, a young man who seems to find killing in the name of survival only too easy. Wendy wore a black wig, but she's instantly recognizable, of course. She first appears twenty minutes into the film and is on-screen fairly frequently over about the next half hour or so in a handful of substantial scenes, exiting for good about the movie's midpoint. It is my firm opinion that the remainder of the film is much poorer for Wendy's departure.
We first see Clara dressed in a nightgown (and appearing for all the world like a timid, almost mousy housewife) as her husband shoots his employer, thus committing himself to joining Constance's group. In her next major scene, during a rest stop well outside the city, her character has changed, almost as if her removal from the familiar urban environs has unleashed Clara's true nature. Wearing a tight, whisper-thin blouse in the cool air, she finds the opportunity to coyly lean over Constance, ostensibly to ask if he needs any help. Her bosom only a few inches from his nose, Constance declines her assistance, pauses, and then asks her if she is cold. Straightening up, with a mischievous grin she says, "Me? Cold? Never!" Numerous short on-the-road scenes show her and her husband bickering constantly in their car. Her final scene unfolds in an industrial shed where the group has holed up for the night. Constance, on guard duty, is quietly joined by Clara, whose silky flattery falls on deaf ears, though she does at last entice him into a "good night kiss", just in time for Pirrie to discover them. With Clara in his possession again, Pirrie makes his case for killing her for her unfaithfulness, noting shrewdly, and disturbingly, that the old civilized rules (and laws) no longer apply. Constance tries to talk him out it, but Clara, frightened and hurt, finally forces the issue by trying to escape Pirrie's grasp and is shot dead by him off-screen.
The role of Mrs. Pirrie was an excellent one for Ms. Richard; for that reason, if no other, the movie's worth seeing for any Wendy-fan. Though a rather pathetic and coarse creature, the character of Clara nonetheless provided a young Wendy with a rich opportunity to work in a wide range of emotions. At different points, she must play a Clara who is sarcastic (sounding just like Pauline!), vulgar, seductive, arousing, tired, charming, frightened, and even horrified. Wendy's performance is all the better in comparison with the rather wooden acting of just about everyone else in the cast.
And lest one dismiss the character as nothing more than pretty window dressing, it's worth noting that poor, doomed Clara serves a strong and well-defined allegorical purpose in the film. The primary characters generally demonstrate how people survive by meeting and mastering adversity. Unfortunately, Clara is one who fails the test, for she lacks the wits, or perhaps the will, to modify her pre-apocalyptic behavior and adapt to her new and dangerous environment. And for that failure she pays with her life. This is evident in most of her scenes. Clara's egging on of Andy on the road, as if they were out for a weekend thrill, which contributes to an assault on Constance, his wife and daughter. Her disinterest in the radio bulletins of the worsening situation. Her licentious and divisive behavior toward Constance, the group's leader. Even Clara's changing from slacks to an impractical skirt mid-way through their journey is symbolic of her rejection of the sensibility which their odyssey requires of her.
Wendy offered her own take on the movie in an interview with Anthony Slide in the early '90s: "It came from a brilliant book, but Cornel Wilde, God rest his soul, I don't think he did it justice when it came to the screenplay. He seemed to go over the top and get some bits quite arse about face [webmaster's note: .... which I think is a slang term for 'mixed up' or 'twisted about'.]"
Made in the UK (the outdoor scenes were filmed in Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Westmorland [which is now part of Cumbria]), released in 1970 (by an American distribution company). It was released in VHS-PAL format commercially many years ago, but on DVD apparently only in 2012, under the Warner Archive label.
The movie shows up (albeit rarely) on television in the US; it was on the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) cable channel as recently as June 2005.
The movie's title song is sung by none other than
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A feature-length version of a popular British situation comedy of the same name. The plot involves the Abbott family (father, mother, teenage son, teenage daughter) and generally meanders through gardening, the generation gap, rummage sales, house wrecking, house renovation, ecological awareness, first jobs, teen love, and a wedding (in roughly that order).
Ms. Richard can be seen about 45 minutes into the movie. She looks very much like the early Shirley Brahms of AYBS? -- but with a definite attitude. She played a waitress, Carol, at the cafe where Mike (the teenage son) gets a job. Carol gets fed up with the job, tells the manager she's had it (in no uncertain terms) and quits. Her position is then taken by the neighbor girl, Kate, giving Kate and Mike the chance to meet.
Made in the UK, released in 1972. Available on video (NTSC and PAL) and Region 2 DVD. YouTube also has a clip of the scene wherein Wendy appears.
Starring in this movie was Sidney James, who figured prominently in the Carry On string of movies.
Although they don't share a scene in this movie, Wendy and
(who plays Kate) worked together a year later in an episode of
The Fenn Street Gang.
Frank Thornton, who later joined Ms. Richard on Are You Being Served?, also has a minor part, playing a businessman. He employs his Guards tone of voice here too, and appears sans moustache.
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The sixth and last in the series of movies to follow the first rather successful film Doctor in the House, this was Ms. Richard's first full-length cinema vehicle (her earlier work in Help! having not survived the editor's scissors). It's a zany and rather likable hospital comedy; a distant cry from the bawdy and crude movies of the Carry On variety. Some nice music by Kiki Dee. There is a bit of "Taming of the Shrew" in the plot; and Are You Being Served? fans may recognize in some of the events certain elements of the AYBS? episodes "Dear Sexy Knickers", "Memories are Made of This", and "Good-bye, Mrs. Slocombe."
Ms. Richard isn't listed in the leading credits. Even after seeing the movie, I have to admit I'm still not quite certain what role she played. I think she appeared briefly as the young nurse dressed down by the new matron (head nurse) about 35 minutes into the movie. Wendy had all of two lines, and hardly spoke above a whisper, so her voice --normally a dead give-away--provided no clue this time . . .but her profile does look rather familiar. What do you think?
Made in the UK, released in 1965/1966. Movie is a.k.a. Carnaby, MD. On video, in both PAL and NTSC and in Region 2 DVD.
Near the beginning of the movie can be seen Alfie Bass (who later joined
the AYBS? cast); and in a prominent role is tall, gangling
Jeremy Lloyd (co-writer for AYBS?).
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A full length cinematic treatment of Ms. Richard's television comedy series of the same name (actually, it was a retread of the script of the stage version of AYBS? which had just finished playing at Blackpool). The movie was shot in just nineteen days in the fall of 1976, released to theaters in 1977, and featured the entire cast from the television show. The plot involves the department members going on holiday together to Spain and ending up in the middle of a revolution.
The plot is pretty weak, and actually repeats with high fidelity a number of the gags from various episodes of the televised program. About the only reason to see the movie is Ms. Richard. Her outfits are quite flattering, and she acquitted herself well with the material at hand. The opening shot of the first scene is one of the best of Miss Brahms. My main gripe would be that, out of all the cast, she seems to have gotten the fewest lines to speak.
Wendy herself later, in a 1992 interview, voiced some disappointment with the movie: "It was on a very cheap budget . . . Considering the success of the [TV show], they could have put a bit more money into it."
Available on video (NTSC and probably PAL) and Regions 1, 2, 4 DVD. About the most info I've seen on the subject is in the Rigelford AYBS? book.
Nadim Sawalha (yup, Julia's and Nadia's father) plays two roles in the movie.
And as for the desk clerk . . . Hint:
him; he's from Barcelona."
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