Famed British film director David Lean went from intimate British drama to epic widescreen history by way of some of the best adaptations of Dickens put to celluloid. As part of our five of the best series we present for you five of his must see movies.
A Passage To India (1984)
Beautifully adapted from E.M. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India is the tale of a young British woman, Adela (Judy Davis), who accuses a local doctor of rape while she’s traveling in India. This was British filmmaker David Lean’s magnificent comeback film, following a silence of more than a decade; sadly it was also the last film of his career. Peggy Ashcroft won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her outstanding performance as Mrs. Moore; composer Maurice Jarre won an Oscar for the movie’s score. Lean was also nominated for directing, adapting and editing.
Cast: Peggy Ashcroft, Victor Banerjee, Judy Davis, James Fox, Alec Guinness
Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
Director David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) directed this sweeping romantic drama set amid the political turbulence of early 20th-century Ireland. Young Rosy Ryan, daughter of the local pub owner in a small Irish town, is married to quiet schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum). But her affair with a British military man (Christopher Jones) sets off waves of regret and despair for her and her husband, and leads to an impassioned questioning of her political and personal loyalties in town. Gorgeous cinematography of the green Irish landscape accentuates the tragic romance at the film’s center.
Cast: Sarah Miles, John Mills, Robert Mitchum, Evin Crowley, Barry Foster, Trevor Howard, Christopher Jones, Marie Kean, Leo McKern,
Dr Zhivago (1965)
The ultimate in mid-’60s, big-budget Hollywood filmmaking, with casts of thousands, exotic locations, strikingly beautiful stars, and the sheen that only money can buy. Based on the Pulitzer Prize—winning novel by Boris Pasternak, about a Russian surgeon and poet, married to one woman yet in love with another, who becomes a victim of the Russian Revolution. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture; Best Director; Best Film Editing.
Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Rod Steiger
Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
An outstanding, psychologically complex adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s 1952 novel. British POWs in Burma are forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors. British and American intelligence officers conspire to blow up the structure, but the British commander (Alec Guinness) who supervised the bridge’s construction has acquired a sense of pride in his creation and tries to foil their plans. Too late, he realizes the devastating consequences of his actions. Although credited to the director, the script was actually written by blacklisted writers Wilson and Foreman. Awards include Golden Globes for Best Director; Best Actor in a Drama: Alec Guinness; Best Motion Picture, Drama.
Cast: Alec Guiness, James Donald, Jack Hawkins, William Holden, Andre Morell,
Brief Encounter (1945)
Adapted from Noel Coward’s one-act play Still Life,” this romantic drama follows two married strangers who have a chance encounter in a London railway station. English housewife Laura Jesson (Johnson) is on her way home when a cinder catches in her eye and Dr. Alec Harvey (Howard) is nearby to remove it. They chat briefly and part but find themselves looking for each other in the same place a week later. Each week they meet and chat but eventually come to realize they are falling in love. Oscar-nominated for Best Director, Best Actress (Johnson), and Best Screenplay.”
Cast: Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson,Joyce Carey, Everley Gregg. Stanley Holloway, Marjorie Mars, Cyril Raymond