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Submitted by Neal Lofthouse
No Burden to British Films
By George Bartram
Picturegoer August 28 1948
Hugh Burden is a definite asset to British films. When Howard Spring wrote Fame is the Spur, he created a lifelike role for a likeable actor in the part of Arnold Ryerson, the friend of Hamer Radshaw.
Ryerson is a sincere and humble fellow compared to the power-infatuated Hamer, content with political ambition only.
Michael Redgrave played Radshaw in the film and Hugh Burden was his friend Ryerson.
In this shy and sypathetic role, Burden has stolen the kudos from supporting players like Carla Lehmann, Bernard Miles, Marjorie Fielding and Sir Seymour Hicks.
Yet, unless you have followed his career closely, you are tempted to ask, "Who is this sensitive actor with such a great gift of expression?"
There are large gaps in the screen career of Hugh Burden, for in six years he has appeared in only four films, and Fame is the Spur is his first for three years !
The three most important years in the career of Hugh Burden were 1913, 1939 and 1941. He was born in 1913 ; he joined up in 1939, and he entered films in 1941.
Strangely enough, it was the director of his first film, Sergei Nolbandov, who contacted Burden immediately he was released from the Forces.
The director had always admired the actor's stage work and on hearing of his return to the stage, he offered him a part in the film Ships with Wings.
Overwhelmed in a cast which included John Clements, Jane Baxter and Leslie Banks, not to mention the up and coming Michaels, Wilding and Rennie, Hugh Burden managed to hold his own but left no vital impression.
It was ironic that although he had been invalided out of the Army - he was an officer in the Indian Army - his first film was a story of the navy, his second a film of the Royal Air Force and his third a memorable Army film.
Following Ships with Wings, he made One of Our Aircraft is Missing with Eric Portman and Godfrey Tearle. As a member of the ill-fated aircraft's crew, he turned in a sound performance.
It was in that memorable film, The Way Ahead, however, that Hugh Burden really shone.
Remember the tough sergeant of William Hartnell and his band of "rookies", including Jimmy Hanley, Raymond Huntley and Hugh Burden?
That frightened rabbit of a man, long suffering clerk to the overbearing Raymond Huntley who blossomed into a courageous soldier, was brilliantly played by Burden.
Plaudits for this film were naturally showered on William Hartnell, and the individual performances of the rest of the cast were subdued into the magnificence of the film.
It is a great pity that almost three years were to elapse before Hugh Burden was to make another film.
His sympathetic, if somewhat nervous character admirably fits him into a permanent niche in British films.
A typical son of the Empire, Hugh Burden was born in Colombo, Ceylon, but he was sent to England at the age of ten to further his education.
No mean athlete, he also gained honours in history and French, apart from gaining the L.D.R.A.M. Music is still one of his passions, and he spends much of his leisure time at the piano.
After training at the R.A.D.A., it was Ian Hoy who first spotted him and got him his first stage part in The Frog.
Some of his more recent stage appearances have proved him to be one of our most prominent actors. They were in such hits as The Duke in Darkness , The Banbury Nose, While the Sun Shines, and The Years Between.
Now, appearing for the first time in a film without uniform, Hugh Burden has given us a performance that abounds in deep-seated sincerity, a quality which is part of his true make-up.
Apart from the stage and occasional films, the star is also actively engaged in radio drama.
The marathon plays of the Third Programme particularly claim his attention, but he appears in lighter productions on the Home and Light wavelengths.
One of his most brilliant performances in recent months was that of an actor in a Mystery Playhouse production entitled The End of the Play .
But while we appreciate Hugh Burden in these mediums of art, it is the film world with which we are concerned. His lapses from the screen, between films, have been too long.
With Fame is the Spur he has proved that here is an actor who should not be found wanting in British films.