The Actors’ Agency – Part 6

photoboothBensamon

This is another in the series of photobooth photo, file cards from a Parisian acting agency. Each photo attached to the card is of a client who was looking for work in the acting profession in the 1950s or 60s.

Monsieur Bensamon, above, looks to me to be perfect for any role as a valet or butler. Which brings me to a film Murder by Death (1976), which is one of my favourite comedies from childhood. It has an all-star cast which included, bizarrely, author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote.

Maggie Smith and David Niven play an aristocratic couple, Dora and Dick Charleston (See dialogue below) who are invited with a group of other guests, to a spooky house where a murder is subsequently committed. The house of course had a butler. It is an affectionate spoof of the work of numerous crime writers of the era but most particularly of the stories of Agatha Christie.  All this is by way of explaining why I bought the above photo, as the butler in Murder by Death is Bensonmum.

Bensonmum is a ridiculous but very funny character, played by Sir Alec Guinness. The similarities in the two names and my affection for the film were enough to make this, less than exciting photo, a must for my collection. There are no details on the back of the card, so all we know of Monsieur Bensamon is his surname and address at the time. If he had been cast in Murder By Death, I am sure he would have had great fun with the following dialogue from the film –

Dora Charleston: Thank you. You are?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Bensonmum.
Dora Charleston: Thank you, Benson.
Jamesir Bensonmum: No, no, no, no, no… Bensonmum. My name is Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Bensonmum?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir. Jamesir Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Jamesir?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir.
Dick Charleston: Jamesir Bensonmum?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir.
Dick Charleston: How odd.
Jamesir Bensonmum: My father’s name, sir.
Dick Charleston: What was your father’s name?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Howard. Howard Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Your father was Howard Bensonmum?
Dora Charleston: Leave it be, Dickie. I’ve had enough.

There are some other great photos in this series, so stay tuned to Photobooth Journal for more posts.

photoboothBensamon02

 

26 comments
  1. oglach said:

    Great photo. I think this man could have played a role in a Godard film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d cast him as a serial killer rather than a butler, not that the two are incompatible. Poison would be his preferred method. Afternoon tea laced with cyanide. Wealthy old widows his victims.I can picture it all now. Thanks, for that.

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  3. Thanks for the post Kate, I will now search out the film particularly as it also stars Peter Sellers and is written by Neil Simon – how did this pass me by. Maybe the memory is fading which is more than possible 😉
    Great image – those eyes seem very familiar – Michael Stype? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remember Peter Sellers in a seriously dodgy racial stereotyped role which was sent up as a seriously dodgy racial stereotype! Didn’t know Neil Simon wrote it. I want to see it again, too!

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  4. I think I saw that movie, or I am thinking of Agatha. I will have to get it and watch. He does look the Butler type or a Military Man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am itching to see it again. It is very funny. I loved all the characters but Maggie Smith’s once most stuck in my mind. She is one of my favourite actors.

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            • OMG you know that series? As you know it is set in Melbourne, my home town. I adore it as it goes to so many places I know and is set at the time my grandparents were young. The clothes she wears are divine!

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          • Isn’t it incredible? I loved James Coco. So sad he died so young. Heart attack I think.

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            • Yes indeed. I just discovered that series when I was looking for Murder by Death. I love that time period and when I saw Melbourne, I immediately thought of you.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks nice, Ted. I think of you quite often in response to various things. ( some films, some photography, photobooth pics, etc bring you and your family to mind) I never think of you in relation to the USA presidential primaries, though you live there. It is getting a massive amount of coverage here. I think that is because it doesn’t bear thinking about! It is all so strange this time around.

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    • It is wonderful, isn’t it? I think it has actually improved with time. Most of the stars have passed on now, and they really were capital-S stars!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. He looks really interesting – I somehow get a lot of ideas where to cast him…
    …but then I’m not a casting director 🙂

    Like

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