Acclaimed British director David Lean could have easily ended up as an accountant. That was the profession his father took and the young Lean was expected to follow in his footsteps. Luckily though, his passion for cinema was so great that his family allowed him to seek employment within the film industry.
His first job was as a tea-boy at Gaumont studios in the mid-1920s. From there he was lucky enough to move into editing just as sound films were beginning to take off.
Lean was to become a highly respected editor, working on Gaumont Sound News (1930) and British Movietone News (1931-32), and later fictional features such Escape Me Never (1935), As You Like It (1936) and Pygmalion (1938). In 1940, he moved on to work as assistant director on the film Major Barbara.
Celebrated playwright and actor Noel Coward hired Lean as his directorial collaborator on the wartime classic In Which We Serve (1943). The following year, Lean made his solo directorial debut with This Happy Breed. After this, he went on to work on further films written by Coward. These included the comedy Blithe Spirit (1945) and the very English, middle class tale of forbidden romance Brief Encounter (1945).
He then made two very impressive adaptations of Charles Dickens books, Oliver Twist (1948) and Great Expectations (1946).
In 1957, in association with producer Sam Spiegel, Lean moved out of England and into international production with his epic adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s Japanese prisoner-of-war story The Bridge on The River Kwai, which starred Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and William Holden.
Lean’s next film, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) became the definitive dramatic film epic of its generation. Featuring an intense performance from Peter O’Toole, the told the tale of the Arab revolt against German-allied Turkey during World War I.
Doctor Zhivago (1965), a complex romantic tale about life in Russia before and during the revolution, opened to mixed reviews but went on to become one of the top-grossing movies of the 1960s, despite a three-hour running time.
Gaining both critical and commercial success, it was clear that Lean had become one of the biggest directors of the day. However, he was soon to receive some knocks. The 1970 film, Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was savaged by critics, who criticised it’s slowness and self-indulgence.
A quiet period followed for Lean. Disheartened by the first consistently negative reviews of his illustrious career, he stayed away from the cinema for fourteen years.
His return was with A Passage to India (1984), a comeback which proved to both a critical and box office success. In 1990, Lean, who has been cited as an influence for directors such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, was the first non-American recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement award. The director was in final pre-production for the a film version of the Joseph Conrad novel Nostromo when he died in 1991.
and this just in
Savage Wilderness (1955, Victor Mature, James Whitmore)
Victor Mature, the ’50s star once dubbed ‘a beautiful hunk of man’ but now often unfairly labelled the Sylvester Stallone...
Let Him Have It (1991, Chris Eccleston, Paul Reynolds)
Let Him Have It is Peter Medak’s vividly dramatized account of the infamous and still controversial 1952 Craig-Bentley case focused,...
Legend Of The Lost (1957, John Wayne, Sophia Loren)
Henry Hathaway’s Boys Own adventure Legend Of The Lost is given extra curiosity value by Ben Hecht’s philosophical script. John...
I Could Go On Singing (UA 1963, Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde)
In I Could Go On Singing Jenny Bowman (Judy Garland) is a great singing star. A Palladium season brings her...
Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970, Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely)
This entertaining addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon saw Billy Wilder come up with a new adventure for the famous...
A Million Little Things: Pilot (Series Premiere ABC 26 Sep 2018)
Pilot: hey say friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things; and that’s true for a group of...
A Million Little Things: Band Of Dads (Episode 2 ABC 3 Oct 2018)
Band Of Dads: The group tries to be there for Sophie as an upcoming father-daughter dance recital approaches, and when...
Modern Family: I Love a Parade (Season 10 Premiere ABC 26 Sep 2018)
I Love a Parade: The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan are going to be setting off more than a few fireworks when they...
Bus Stop (TCF 1956, Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray)
Bar-room singer Cherie in Bus Stop was Marilyn Monroe’s first screen performance after she had retrained at Lee Strasberg’s Actors...
Guns Of The Magnificent Seven (1969, George Kennedy, James Whitmore)
After the success of The Magnificent Seven the men were no longer mere movie icons. They were also a popular...
Amorous Prawn, The (1962, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker)
Director Anthony Kimmins and Nicholas Phipps collaborated on the slick script for The Amorous Prawn a lively screen version of...