Saturday, 28 March 2015

Trevor Howard was a psychopath

Watching for the first time in many years The Third Man - it's still my favourite film - last night, I googled and found this 2001 story about Trevor Howard that I missed living far from England. 
'Although stories of his courageous wartime service in the Royal Corps of Signals earned him much respect among fellow actors and fans alike, files held in the Public Record Office reveal that he had actually been discharged from the Army in 1943 for mental instability and having a "psychopathic personality".' 
Terence Pettigrew's biography recounts that he lied about having the Military Cross (an honour awarded, of course, for bravery under fire). In fact, he didn't leave England for the whole of his brief, unhappy army career. 

I must catch up on decades of scandal. Redgrave being a sado-masochist, Olivier and almost everyone being homosexual...

We just watched The Third Man projected onto a screen. The full film is on YouTube but not for long. I still thought it's the best film I ever saw and it improves with each viewing. It's Graham Greene's greatest masterpiece. Howard is wonderful as is everyone and everything in it. 

According to Mr. Pettigrew,
Once, on location in Africa, the cast and crew decided to honour Trevor by screening Brief Encounter. He sat through it without a word. When a mate of his whispered to him 'Wish they'd chosen The Third Man.' Trevor drew himelf up to his full height and roared so that everyone got the message, "So do I".
And quite right too.

When I first visited Vienna in January 1990 I thought not of Freud or Hitler, Strauss or the Hapsburgs but of the Third Man. But I forgot when I was in Vienna a few months ago to go on the Third Man tour and think it a good reason for returning there this year. The guide who invented the tour is said to be very good and utterly smitten by the film and all to do with it. She even tracked down the actor who played the weird, staring little boy with the football who implicates Holly Martin (Joseph Cotton) in the murder of the porter.


  1. Lots of gay men in the arts through the years, although it can be hard for heterosexual people to accept this truth. I remember a lot of British self-delusion floating around the supposed straightness of pop star George Michael, a bigger queen than the Queen herself.

    1. Yes lots and lots. Even I knew that. Actresses happen in the best regulated families and so do actors.

      I have an enormous admiration and liking for actors and actresses. i think I'd have made a good one.

      They live precariously, are exhibitionists, are unconventional and know so very much about life - they have to.

  2. Trevor Howard was dismissive of the plot of Brief Encounter saying that they would have been at it like knives from their first meeting. Shines a light on part of his personality.
    Dominic Johnson