|Leonide Massine and Moira Shearer|
Already a principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet in
It would be hard to imagine anyone but Anton Walbrook playing the complexity of the dominating, sometimes ruthless, sometimes poignant part of Boris Lermontov, impresario of the ballet. The character of Lermontov was based upon real-life master of the Ballet Russes during the golden age of Nijinsky, Fokine and Stravinsky in the early 20th century. Walbrook pulls out all the stops in his portrayal of Lermontov, sinister, charming, ruthless and driven to control Vicky Page, in whom he saw greatness and for whom he felt a frightening love. Walbrook, an Austrian actor, was 52 years old and well-established when The Red Shoes was released. Walbrook used his facial expressions, body language, knife-edged speech and mesmerizing eyes to create a dynamic performance, just short of ham acting but close enough to be unforgettable.
Strikingly handsome 36-year old English actor Marius Goring played composer Julian Craster, Vicky Page’s lover. Goring, in my opinion, was the only fly in the ointment in The Red Shoes. Unlike Walbrook, who although playing his part to the hilt, was able to keep it in controlled context of the character, Goring was all ham. His over-acting in many scenes was noticeable even amongst the extremely dramatic style of the other actors. Much of the blame for this has to land on the back of director Michael Powell, who should have reined him in during much of his performance. Goring was not a bad actor, as can be seen in later performances, but this was not one of his best. He had a long acting career, and got better as he got older. Some of his work included Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) with James Mason and Ava Gardner, the television miniseries Holocaust (1978), and a run in the hugely popular Dr. Who series playing Theodore Maxtible.
Australian-born Robert Helpmann was 39 years old when he acted, choreographed and danced several parts in The Ballet of the Red Shoes. Helpmann was principal dancer in
"Theatre remains the only thing I understand. It is in the community of the theatre that I have my being. In spite of jealousies and fears, emotional conflicts and human tensions; in spite of the penalty of success and the dread of failure; in spite of tears and feverish gaiety, this is the only life I know. It is the life I love.”