Brighton Rock, 1947
Attenborough gave his best early performance in this film based on Graham Greene’s novel. As the hair-trigger gang leader Pinkie Brown, he’s a sadist who rules the horse track like a ferocious fireplug.
The Great Escape, 1963
The film made Steve McQueen a macho motorcycle-jumping star. But Lord Richard’s RAF officer is the brains behind the prison-camp breakout. A master class in how to do a lot with a little.
10 Rillington Place, 1971
As ’40s British serial killer John Christie, the actor conveyed mild-mannered menace behind his spectacles and soft-spoken gentility. The perfect English murderer — practically polite in his pathology.
His greatest triumph behind the camera, Attenborough’s epic and emotionally stirring biopic of the pacifist Indian leader (Ben Kingsley) won Best Picture and Director, his first (and only) Oscars.
Jurassic Park, 1993
With a mischievous, elfin twinkle in his eye, he made the delusional billionaire John Hammond almost sympathetic. Almost. In his hands, even the most colorful villains possessed shades of gray.