Guinness was "the outstanding poet of anonymity" - Peter Ustinov

His idea of Heaven, he once said, was to "sit on the terrace on a summer's evening, enjoy a drink with one or two friends and listen to the silence.''


1/24/2011 - Review, DVD Talk, of new Tinker DVD -- ...As for Guinness, he's inspired casting―brilliant, in fact, because I can't think of another actor more weirdly suited for this largely anonymous role. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, George Smiley is first thought of as a potential suspect, then demoted as an incompetent, and then brought back as an unwelcome sleuth, all the while getting constantly reminded (and insulted) concerning the infidelity of his gorgeous wife, Anne (Siân Phillips in the final, quietly devastating scene), by all and sundry he encounters. He's basically a cipher to the viewer, but through infinitesimally small, incremental reveals from Guinness, we are gradually able to see a picture of a fiercely intelligent, bitterly wounded man almost completely withdrawn from the human race when it doesn't involve his mission. Guinness had to be the strangest A-list star to ever come down the pike, with an almost supernatural ability to suggest some very dark, squirrelly thoughts in that undistinguished face...and those terrifyingly complex eyes. His Smiley is a masterstroke of weary sublimation and suggestion, with a hint of cruel glee, too, at times, as he gets closer to his quarry, and the performance towers over Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy...even if the miniseries itself, while still valuable and entertaining, shrinks just a bit from elevated memory.

8/1/08 - From Sands Films: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, starring Alec Guinness and Derek Jacobi is at last coming out on DVD.

The release date is confirmed for Monday 27th October 2008 The RRP will be £21.25 (£24.99 inc VAT )

You can now pre-book the 2 disks set box at a cheaper rate on Amazon.co.uk or direct from us on Ebay.co.uk.

Pre-orders from Amazon will reach you on or about the 27th October.
Pre-orders from us will reach you early October.

The new digital master is now completed and looks a great deal better than the VHS released by Warner in the 90's. The new DVD master was made from the original negative and is much sharper.

The DVDs also contain short cast interviews recorded in 1986/7 which have never been seen before. Alec Guinness, Cyril Cusack, Patricia  Hayes and Joan Greenwood talk about the film and the novel. It also has a short clip of the elusive Miss Pickering... and of course of Derek Jacobi.

Trailer at Sands Films

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1/18/05 - Time Magazine Cover Article 1958

11/18/04 - There is a new Yahoo Group called Poet of Anonymity. Click HERE to join



"...Also, was it merciful of them to saddle any modern actor, however skilled, with the task of treading in the footsteps of Alec Guinness?

Guinness, the patron saint of Ealing, played the professor in 1955. Our first sight of him remains one of the most celebrated entrances in cinema: the landlady opens the door to reveal a leering spectre, whose low-voiced attempts at affability simply strengthen our impression that Nosferatu has taken ship to London. The part was purest Guinness, being neither just creepy nor just amusing but always a pungent hellbrew of the two. You caught a whiff of genuine horror in that net-curtained cityscape, still politely exhausted by the strains of war, and so insidious was the central performance, set in relief by the broader jokiness of the henchmen (Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers among them), that, even though Mackendrick shot the movie in color, it lingers and thickens, in one’s mind, as a murk of black-and-white...."

12/30/03 - The Independent: Film Studies: There's nothing so suspicious as an upright Englishman By David Thomson

12/29/03 - A link to more information on the BBC2 Guinness Program

12/29/03 - Unravelling the Guinness mystery - The BBC. Thanks, Gill (on BBC2 UK TV 12/29)

12/28/02 - Both Smiley series are now available on VHS and DVD in the USA from Acorn: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People

Sir Alec in 194910/16/02 - Article on Guinness in The Independent: ..."What thoughts are really moving behind those feline eyes? What is it, this knowledge that he nurses, but never yields? Only this, perhaps: that the secret of great screen acting is secrecy itself."

10/11/02 - Le Carre on Alec in a conversation with Adrian Wootton - Fascinating!

1/8/01
- Wonderful Tribute by John Le Carre in the 1/7 New York Times Sunday Magazine HERE

BBC News

New York Times Obit HERE

Link page updated 6/4/02. Italian article added



"An actor is an interpreter of other men's words, often a soul which wishes to reveal itself to the world but dare not, a craftsman, a bag of tricks, a vanity bag, a cool observer of mankind, a child, and at his best a kind of unfrocked priest who, for an hour or two, can call on heaven and hell to mesmerise a group of innocents."

From the prologue of Blessings In Disguise, by Alec Guinness


Cover scanned from the Guinness Biography, Blessings In Disguise.
Illustration by the Master, Herschfeld.
This web site was conceived and designed by Mary Murphy

I have tried to give credit for all the pictures and printed information included on these pages.
If I have left anything or anyone out, please contact me.

I welcome any additional information, pictures, quotes, etc.Thanks.