Star of the Month

Peggy Cummins (1925 - 2017)

On the surface, Peggy Cummins was just one of the many actresses British cinema saw fit to waste in the 1950s. Yet dig a little deeper and you'll find some cherishable roles in decent films. There may not have been much on offer but she took what there was and delivered solid performances every time.

Cummins was born in Prestatyn but her childhood was largely spent in Dublin, where she became involved with the Abbey Theatre and the Gate. Still a child, she made her London debut in 1938 and her film debut in 1940. Her career stepped up a gear when Darryl F Zanuck saw her in a stage production and offered her a Hollywood contract.

Hollywood didn't really work out for her. First she was announced as having a role in Cluny Brown but that didn't happen. There were a couple of minor appearances before she landed the plum role of the lead in Forever Amber. The novel had been a massive hit and the film was being touted as the next Gone with the Wind. A big publicity drive was launched for Cummins but it all went wrong when Zanuck saw the early rushes and replaced the director. The new director replaced Cummins.

After that public humiliation, Cummins hung around Hollywood for a while but there was little on offer. She ended her career there with an ultra-low budget crime film Gun Crazy where she played a psycho. She returned to Britain.

Her roles in 50s British cinema could largely be filed under decorative and sensible. This was certainly true of her two classics Hell Drivers and Night of the Demon. She's not perhaps those films biggest selling point, but she does provide a calm business-like centre to the drama.

She retired in the early 60s to run a sheep farm with her husband and would probably have been largely forgotten by film fans were it not for Gun Crazy. It was taken up by the French New Wave directors as a key influence and Cummins became a bit of an icon. In her later years she did a number of film conventions and screenings though she never filmed again.     

Peggy Cummins in the Captain's Table        


1940 Dr O'Dowd
1942 Salute John Citizen
1943 Old Mother Riley Detective
1944 Welcome, Mr Washington
1944 English Without Tears
1947 The Late George Apley (U.S.)
1947 Moss Rose (U.S.)
1948 Escape
1948 Green Grass of Wyoming (U.S.)
1949 That Dangerous Age
1950 Gun Crazy (U.S.)
1950 My Daughter Joy
1952 Who Goes There!
1953 Street Corner
1953 Always a Bride
1953 Meet Mr Lucifer
1954 The Love Lottery
1954 To Dorothy a Son
1956 The March Hare
1957 Carry on Admiral
1957 Hell Drivers
1957 Night of the Demon
1959 The Captain's Table
1959 Your Money or Your Wife
1960 Dentist in the Chair
1962 In the Doghouse

Peggy Cummins at Amazon UK  

Peggy Cummins at Amazon US