Theme Times – Oliver Reed

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Hellraisers – Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton

Oliver Reed By Nijs, Jac. de / Anefo

Robert Oliver Reed (13 February 1938 – 2 May 1999) was an English actor known for his upper-middle class, macho image and “hellraiser” lifestyle. Notable films include The Trap (1966), Oliver! (1968), Women in Love (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), The Devils (1971), portraying Athos in The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), playing a Teddy Boy in Tommy (1975), The Brood (1979), Lion of the Desert (1981), Castaway (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Funny Bones (1995) and Gladiator (2000).

For playing Antonius Proximo, the old, gruff gladiator trainer in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in what was his final film, Reed was posthumously nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2000. At the peak of his career, in 1971, British exhibitors voted Reed 5th most popular star at the box office
Of the four Hellraisers to this Theme Times Connections – I had more dealings with Oliver Reed [Directly/indirectly] than any of the others. Although l met Richard Harris many years ago by accident in London when out with a client in the early 90’s whilst attending a fashion media event. But in the mid eighties when in the catering industry l did so for six months happen to work in a pub on Stane Street, Ockley, just outside Dorking in the County of Surrey.

At that time – 1985ish – l found myself to be a young highly proficient bar manager who had been sent into the Red Lion Inn to try and bring it around again into a profitable enterprise. I didn’t succeed l have to say, the environment drove me insane. The staffing was madness, a chef at the time had just cut someone’s ear off with a rather sharp Sabatier and wasn’t worried about throwing knives and choppers around the kitchen for sport and fun!

The waiting staff were mostly French and didn’t speak much English, and the bar staff were mostly drunk and at 22 going on 23 l knew if l stayed there l would be 23 going on insane, hence my short stay and sadly defeat.

The management there had other ideas and a young career orientated motivating whippersnapper with no actual ‘public house’ experience was basically a joke in their eyes! I had not asked for this position, l was being trialed by the company. The failure was a black mark that went against me till my departure in 1987. It was an unfair move for me because l had come from large banqueting background and hotels and not specifically a pub.

However, of the many strange things l saw during my short stint there like ‘de-eared chefs and mad knife throwing lunatics – l also happened to meet Oliver Reed who once bought me a drink as l tended to his evening of drinking. I was terrified of serving him, because he had such a fierce reputation with public houses and landlords alike due to his at times drunken and aggressive behaviour and he was banned from many of the pubs up and down Stane Street in Ockley! But on the few occasions that l did serve him drinks, l found him to be an astonishingly polite person who said he enjoyed speaking to me which made my otherwise maddening days in that pub that much easier.

I had been a fan of his for many years before l met him and many years afterwards and below are my Top 13 personal favourites.

So tell me, fan or not?
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The Curse of the Werewolf 1961

A man with brutal and macabre origins, Leon Corledo (Oliver Reed) was raised in the home of Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans), his kind and loving adopted father. When he leaves Don Alfredo to find work, Leon discovers that he has increasingly violent urges. Although these tendencies are calmed by Leon’s love for the beautiful Christina (Catherine Feller), he ultimately cannot contain his curse and transforms into a werewolf, terrorizing the Spanish countryside.
The Damned 1963

An American visiting England falls in love with the sister of a sadistic motorbike gang leader, who drives them away with his threats. The pair retreat to a hideaway in a dank cave beneath a military base, where a group of strange, abandoned children become their surrogate family. However, the children hide a grim and fatal secret.
The Jokers 1967

Crafty brothers Michael (Michael Crawford) and David Tremayne (Oliver Reed) decide to steal Britain’s crown jewels — but not for anything as vulgar as wealth. Instead, Michael and David plan to return the jewels just days after they steal them and then bask in the resulting glory. So the pair devise a madcap heist involving an elaborate series of bomb scares to distract the authorities. But what happens when one of the brothers decides on a change of plan?
I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname 1967

Satirical British comedy about a man who decides that his wealthy lifestyle is not for him and attempts to return to impoverishment – with surprising results.
The Assassination Bureau 1969

Before the start of World War I, would-be journalist Sonya Winter (Diana Rigg) begins to investigate the Assassination Bureau, a mysterious organization that chooses its targets based on moral issues. In recent years, however, the group has become corrupt and unscrupulous, prompting Sonya to request that the organization assassinate its own leader, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). Amused, Ivan accepts Sonia’s request. But is he really the villain Sonya thinks he is?
Hannibal Brooks 1969

Light-hearted World War II escape adventure about a British prisoner of war working at Munich zoo who sees a chance for freedom when he is given the job of escorting an elephant out of the country. Once on the road to Innsbruck, he elects to follow the example of his namesake and take the beast across the Alps to sanctuary in Switzerland.
Revolver 1973

A prison official enlists the aid of a former convict in an attempt to rescue his kidnapped wife.
The Three Musketeers 1973

A young swordsman comes to Paris and faces villains, romance, adventure and intrigue with three Musketeer friends.
Royal Flash 1975

Capt. Harry Flashman (Malcolm McDowell) is an unapologetic rogue who’ll stop at nothing to advance himself. In London, he seduces Lola Montez (Florinda Bolkan) away from Otto von Bismarck (Oliver Reed), but finds he doesn’t get off scot-free. As part of a sketchy plan to unite Germany, von Bismark in turn forces Flashman to impersonate a Prussian aristocrat so as to seduce a certain strategic duchess (Britt Ekland). Flashman succeeds, but is eventually exposed and flees for his life.
Lion of the Desert 1981

Set during the reign of Mussolini, this epic tale revolves around Libyan leader, Omar Mukhtar. Omar, an Arab Muslim rebel takes on the Italian attack which is directed towards conquering Libya.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen 1989

Baron Munchausen narrates the story of how, along with his talented henchmen and an exuberant girl, he set out to save a town from being captured by the Turks.
Treasure Island 1990

Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate Long John Silver (Charlton Heston) wants young Jim Hawkins’ (Christian Bale) treasure map.
Gladiator 2000

Commodus takes over power and demotes Maximus, one of the preferred generals of his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. As a result, Maximus is relegated to fighting till death as a gladiator.

7 thoughts on “Theme Times – Oliver Reed

  1. Ah, the hellraisers – when you have too much talent and personality to keep it all contained in a mere human body!

  2. Oliver Reed never made a big impression on me, either way. I certainly have no negative feelings. My biggest story about him will now be: I know a bloke called Rory who used to drink with Oliver Reed.

    1. Ha ha – hey Geoff, it’s funny, l used to say that to people also.

      When l worked in catering, because of my original training in management being in Civic Halls, Sports Facilities and Leisure Centres and Restaurants l used to meet famous people all the time,

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