Charles Crichton

Quentin Falk
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Film-maker Charles Crichton (1910–99) has a body of work that can be read as a microcosm of the British film industry across six tumultuous decades. He began his career in the thirties as an editor at Korda’s Denham Studios and ended it in the late eighties when, aged seventy-seven, he directed the blockbuster Oscar-winning comedy A Fish Called Wanda. But his reputation rests on the films he helped created for Ealing Studios in the forties and fifties, where he was a principal architect of such popular and acclaimed comedies as Hue and Cry, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Titfield Thunderbolt.

As this first-ever study of Crichton’s complete body of work reveals, his film-making skills extended way beyond just comedy. His versatility stretched to film noir and wartime drama as well as – when the domestic film industry contracted in the sixties – a seamless transition into prime-time television, including such popular programmes as The Avengers, Space: 1999 and The Adventures of Black Beauty.

Featuring the first-hand testimony of colleagues and collaborators ranging from Dame Judi Dench and Petula Clark to John Cleese and Sir Michael Palin, this anecdote-packed account of Crichton’s fascinating life in film, which also included a short-lived flirtation with Hollywood, will appeal to academics and film students as well as the general reader.

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