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Actor Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore.

Mr. Movie: Michael Gambon

Name not familiar? Well, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, shame on you. Michael Gambon was Professor Albus Dumbledore in the film series, replacing Richard Harris after the actor died following the first two films. Google Gambon’s name and when you see his face the chances are you’ll say something like, “Oh yeah, that guy.”


But the Potter films hardly begin to tell the story of Michael Gambon’s incredibly long and varied film career. He lists over 200 acting credits. Here are Mr. Movie’s opinion of the best.


Victoria and Abdul (2017) is the last big Gambon movie. Queen Victoria (Judi Dench), lonely and tired of her sycophant servants and children, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Abdul (Ali Fazal), an Indian Muslim who is dispatched to England to present the Queen with a medal struck in her honor. Michael Gambon is spot on as Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister and dead set against this relationship. Based on a true story, this is a real charmer.


Annette Bening owns Being Julia (2004) lock, stock and barrel, but that’s OK because she is absolutely super as an aging actress who still knows a trick or two. Michael Gambon is her mentor and stalwart defender throughout. She seems always “on stage” to her college-aged son and her producer-husband (Jeremy Irons). She is roughly pushed aside by a director and young ingenue. Then she pushes back! What fun!


One of the earliest Gambon hits is the entertaining Turtle Diary (1985). Neaera Duncan (Glenda Jackson) happens upon William Snow (Ben Kingsley) at the Aquarium. They agree the turtles shouldn’t be cooped up this way and hatch a plan to return them to the sea. Incredibly, the zookeeper in charge of the turtles (yep, Michael Gambon) offers to help them do it.


The aptly named The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) finds Michael Gambon opposite another British icon, Helen Mirren. Gambon plays churlish gangster Albert Spica. He buys an upscale restaurant and quickly drives away most of the customers by his behavior. His wife Georgina (Mirren) is disgusted by his conduct and starts an affair with a customer. Her disgusting husband finds out and plans a terrible revenge. You won’t find out from me!


Gosford Park (2001) features Michael Gambon as wealthy, stodgy Sir William McCordle, who throws a huge dinner party that contains a wealth of British acting royalty. Stephen Fry, Eileen Atikins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith are just a few of the players. After dinner there is a murder, but this is a dark comedy directed by Robert Altman, so there is plenty of fun viewing things through the eyes of the staff and the guests. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, winning only Best Original Screenplay.


All of the movies in this article are available somewhere. All are for adults.