Burt: an actor who uses his hands


Following up from the Russel Harty clip from yesterday, I was particularly fascinated by this moment, where Burt describes the corps de ballet in Moses, which I’ve giffed above. He seems to get caught up, enthused, by describing what the actors do, his eyes guiding you upwards whilst describing the excellence of their accomplishment. And, of course, one can’t help but notice how he uses his hands, something Visconti criticised him for; but also such an important  part of his star persona and his performance style; and still an important characteristic way after his work for Visconti, as one can see in Liliana Cavani’s La Pelle (1981) below:


I’ve excerpted in the Italian version because I’d just like you to look at the actors and how they use their hands rather than be side-tracked by what’s going on. Two great actors and two great stars, one exuberantly underlining with his hands, the other not.

José Arroyo

1 thought on “Burt: an actor who uses his hands

  1. Remember seeing the Harty interview at the time; Burt seems very animated here, and yet Harty wasn’t seen as a great interviewer at the time, his BBC 2 show was widely criticisised for being lightweight. Yet it seems to me that he got his questions out pretty well and allowed his guests to talk freely, as it seems here.

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