Ealing Studios directors (1938-1959)

by Drusca | created - 08 Jun 2014 | updated - 08 Jun 2014 | Public

In order of appearance. The 6 directors tagged on at the bottom only directed shorts for Ealing, mostly WWII propaganda.

1. Walter Forde

Director | Chu-Chin-Chow

British director Walter Forde started his show-business career on the stage of the music halls of northern England. He entered the film business as a screenwriter but became an actor in 1920, in a series of two-reel comedies he wrote himself. He spent some time in Hollywood, but not much happened ...

2. Robert Stevenson

Director | Mary Poppins

Robert Stevenson was born on March 31, 1905 in Buxton, Derbyshire, England as Robert Edward Stevenson. He was a director and writer, known for Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and King Solomon's Mines (1937). He was married to Ursula Henderson, Frances Holyoke Howard, Anna Lee ...

3. Pen Tennyson

Director | Convoy

When he was commissioned into the Navy, his wife Nova Pilbeam helped him to learn the Morse code by signalling decidedly un-nautical messages.

4. Marcel Varnel

Director | Chandu the Magician

French-born Marcel Varnel began his film career not in France but in Hollywood, as a 30-year-old in 1924. He left Hollywood for Great Britain in the mid-'30s and began turning out a series of low-budget comedies for Will Hay and George Formby, among others. While his films were for the most part ...

5. Alberto Cavalcanti

Director | O Canto do Mar

Born in Brazil in 1897, Alberto Cavalcanti began his film career in France in 1920, working as writer, art director and director. He directed the avant-garde documentary Nothing But Time (1926) ("Nothing but Time"), a portrait of the lives of Parisian workers in a single day. He moved to England in...

6. Sergei Nolbandov

Writer | Ships with Wings

Silent film editor. With Korda's London Films as screenwriter, then with Michael Balcon and Pen Tennyson at Gaumont-British and Ealing during the period leading up to World War II. After the war, active as director and producer of short films for the government as well as documentary programs for ...

7. Charles Frend

Director | The Long Arm

British director Charles Frend started his film career as an editor, and worked on several Alfred Hitchcock films, including Secret Agent (1936) and Young and Innocent (1937). He later worked for MGM at Elstree Studios, where he edited such films as A Yank at Oxford (1938) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (...

8. Basil Dearden

Director | Sapphire

A former stage director, Basil Dearden entered films as an assistant to director Basil Dean (he changed his name from Dear to avoid being confused with Dean). Dearden worked his way up the ladder and directed (with Will Hay) his first film in 1941; two years later he directed his first film on his ...

9. Will Hay

Actor | Oh, Mr. Porter!

William Thompson Hay was probably one of the most versatile of entertainers. He was not only a character comedian of the first rank, but was also an astronomer of high repute - he discovered the spot on the planet Saturn in 1933 - and a fully qualified air pilot; he was once an engineer. Born at ...

10. Thorold Dickinson

Director | Giv'a 24 Eina Ona

Born in Bristol, England, Thorold Dickinson began his film career during the silent era as a writer. He went to work for Ealing in the 1930s, first as an editor and then as a director. He directed or produced military training films during World War II, and after the war he turned out a string of ...

11. Harry Watt

Director | The Siege of Pinchgut

Scottish-born director Harry Watt began his career in the 1930s, and directed several documentaries during World War II, most notably Target for Tonight (1941). He went to Ealing Studios after the war, and the five films he made there were all shot in Africa or Australia. He turned to directing ...

12. Robert Hamer

Director | Kind Hearts and Coronets

Robert James Hamer was born in 1911 along with his twin sister Barbara, the son of Owen Dyke Hamer, a bank clerk, and his wife, Annie Grace Brickell. He was educated at Cambridge University where he wrote some poetry and was published in a collection 'Contemporaries and Their Maker', along with the...

13. Charles Crichton

Director | A Fish Called Wanda

Director Charles Crichton's film career began as an editor in 1935 with Alexander Korda's London Films, and in that capacity he worked on such productions as Sanders of the River (1935), Things to Come (1936) and Elephant Boy (1937) (which introduced Sabu to movie audiences). He soon left London ...

14. Henry Cornelius

Producer | It Always Rains on Sunday

Born in South Africa, Henry Cornelius traveled to Europe, where he worked as an actor and director in stage productions in Germany, France and England. In 1933, with the Nazi takeover of Germany, Cornelius left Germany for France, and studied at the Sorbonne. He hooked up with director René Clair ...

15. Alexander Mackendrick

Writer | The Man in the White Suit

One of the most distinguished (if frequently overlooked) directors ever to emerge from the British film industry, Alexander Mackendrick, was in fact born in the US (to Scottish parents), but grew up in his native Scotland, where he studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He started out as a ...

16. Sidney Cole

Producer | The Adventures of Robin Hood

British producer and supervising editor at Ealing, 1942-52. Later worked in TV production, including a spell in New Zealand. Active in the technician's union (ACTT) from the 1930's.

17. Ralph Smart

Producer | Danger Man

Ralph Smart was born to Australian parents in the London suburb of Chingford, some ten miles northeast of Charing Cross. He began his professional career in films as an editor, writer and director of documentary shorts in 1927. Smart collaborated on the screenplays of some of Michael Balcon's early...

18. Lesley Selander

Director | The Boss Rider of Gun Creek

Lesley Selander's film career, which lasted more than 40 years, started in the early 1920s as a teenager when he got a job at a studio as a lab technician. He soon managed to work his way into the production end of the business and secured employment as a camera operator, then an assistant director...

20. Michael Relph

Producer | Kind Hearts and Coronets

British producer/director Michael Relph, the son of stage actor George Relph, graduated from Bembridge School and became apprenticed to Alfred Junge at Gaumont Pictures in 1932. He was also a stage designer and art director, often working for Michael Balcon. In 1942 he became the chief art director...

21. Anthony Pelissier

Director | Encore

London-born Anthony Pelissier was the son of actress Fay Compton and producer H.G. Pelissier. He became an actor in the 1930s, but soon realized that he was more inclined to making films than appearing in them. In 1937 he got his first screenwriting credit, and remained in that field until his ...

22. Leslie Norman

Director | The Long and the Short and the Tall

Leslie Norman began his career as a 14-year-old in the laboratories and editorial rooms of Warner Brothers Teddington Studios. He worked his way up from sweeping cutting-room floors to supervising editor and then assistant director. After military service he joined Ealing, where he became involved ...

23. Michael Truman

Director | Danger Man

Entered the film industry in 1934, working as an assistant director and junior editor in various studios. Made wartime training films for the army, then joined Ealing in 1944, becoming a producer in 1951, and directing one film ('Touch and Go') in 1955. He directed only occasional films thereafter,...

24. Pat Jackson

Director | White Corridors

Pat Jackson began as an editor and co-director of documentaries with the famed GPO Film Unit in the mid-1930s. He worked with such icons of the documentary field as John Grierson and Harry Watt, but it was his World War II semi-documentary Western Approaches (1944) that put him on the map. Praised ...

25. Seth Holt

Director | Nowhere to Go

Seth Holt began as an assistant editor at Ealing in 1944, graduating to editor (1949), producer (1955) and director (1958).He returned to editing for Charles Crichton's The Battle of the Sexes (1960) and for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Probably his best known film is The Nanny (1965),...

26. Adrian Brunel

Director | The Constant Nymph

Producer/director Adrian Brunel was a major director in England during the 1920s and 1930s. He founded Minerva Films in partnership with actor Leslie Howard, but his career started to fade during World War II. He later founded the London Film Society, an organization dedicated to eliminating ...

27. John Paddy Carstairs

Director | Lassie from Lancashire

Writer-director John Paddy Carstairs was born Nelson Keys, the son of actor Nelson Keys and the brother of producer Anthony Nelson Keys, in London, England, in 1910. Beginning his career as an assistant cameraman, he worked his way up to screenwriter and made his directorial debut in 1933. While ...

28. Ian Dalrymple

Writer | The Citadel

British writer-producer, educated at Rugby and at Trinity College, Cambridge. 'Dal', as he came to be known, began in the industry as a cutter and assistant director under Michael Balcon. He was promoted to supervising editor, in which capacity he worked at Gaumont-British and Gainsborough from the...

30. Compton Bennett

Director | The Seventh Veil

Compton Bennett started out as a bandleader and then became a commercial artist. He turned out a few amateur films that caught the attention of producer Alexander Korda's London Films, and they hired him in 1932 as a film editor. During World War II he directed a few instructional films for the ...

31. Roy Ward Baker

Director | Asylum

Roy Ward Baker's first job in films was as a teaboy at the Gainsborough Studios in London, England, but within three years he was working as an assistant director. During World War II, he worked in the Army Kinematograph Unit under Eric Ambler, a writer and film producer, who, after the war, gave ...



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