Some actors leave an indelible impression. Others are more ephemeral and only leave an impression on us film buffs. Belle Chrystall falls into the latter category, though with hardly any of her films available for viewing that's probably not surprising.
She was been born in Fleetwood in 1910 and enrolled at RADA in 1927. Following a minor role in A Warm Corner she struck lucky and was cast by Victor Saville as the lead in Hindle Wakes. She played a feisty, working-class girl with a mind of her own: quite a rare breed in 30s cinema. She followed this up with another adaptation of a classic Lancashire play: Hobson's Choice.
As the 30s wore on her career drifted into B movies. She got an excellent chance in Michael Powell's The Edge of the World, though her peasant girl's 30s high-fashion pencilled-in eyebrows are arguably the only duff note in Powell's breakthrough film. The critical success of Edge of the World wasn't enough to give her career the boost it needed and by the end of the decade it was fizzling out.
She turned to modelling and was the face of Lux soap for a while before marriage and retirement. After her official retirement she took the occasional radio role but, in the main, concentrated on family life.
It's hard to say why Belle Chrystall's career never really took off. On the evidence of the few films that are available, she was a competent actress. Maybe being able to portray strong women and the ability to do a convincing Lancashire accent weren't qualities British cinema required at the time.
|1930||A Warm Corner|
|1932||The Frightened Lady|
|1933||Friday the Thirteenth|
|1934||The Scotland Yard Mystery|
|1934||The Girl in the Flat|
|1935||Key to Harmony|
|1937||The Edge of the World|
|1938||Follow Your Star|
|1938||Anything to Declare?|
|1940||House of the Arrow|
Belle Chrystall at Amazon UK
Belle Chrystall at Amazon US