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Author: Steve Chibnall

Since his first directorial commission at Welwyn Studios in 1950, Lee Thompson has directed forty-five pictures for theatrical release, covering almost every genre of the cinema. His remarkable ability to adapt his style to suit the material has made him perhaps the most versatile director ever produced by Britain. This book intends to plot the trajectory of a unique film-maker through the typical constraints and opportunities offered by British cinema as a dominant studio system gave way to independent production in the two decades after the Second World War. Thompson was born in Bristol just before the First World War. By the time Thompson left school his ambition was to be an actor, and he joined Nottingham Repertory, making his debut in Young Woodley in 1931. Thompson's opportunity to direct a play came when he received an offer from Hollywood for the film rights to his play Murder Without Crime. His debut box (or ottoman) of tricks went out on the ABC circuit as a double bill with an American film about a GI finding romance in Europe, Four Days Leave. Although the cutting room remained sacrosanct, directors of Thompson's generation had more influence over the final cut of a picture than their predecessors. The Yellow Balloon may be frustratingly limited in its social critique, but as a piece of film making, it was rightly praised for its performances and technical proficiency.

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Steve Chibnall

Murder Without Crime (1951) So many stories, some curious, all true, and most infinitely trivial – blacks and whites, shake ‘em all together and see what comes out. Toss the coin, spin the wheel. Take off the lid. Slit open the pie crust … (The Narrator, Murder Without Crime

in J. Lee Thompson
Steve Chibnall

Crime , a reworking of ideas first developed in Double Error. It remained in the West End for two years and was also produced on Broadway. Two more plays followed in the immediate post-war years, but neither could match the popularity of Murder Without Crime. The first was a thriller called The Curious Dr Robson , which was tried out at the Q Theatre in 1946 with Peter Cushing in a starring role. The notices were

in J. Lee Thompson
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Steve Chibnall

theatrical irony, but most of all his meticulous craftsmanship in the generation and maintenance of suspense. Cape Fear and Return From the Ashes (1966) are each a homage to the only director prior to Lee Thompson successfully to make a permanent transition from the British cinema to Hollywood, and there are Hitchcockian devices in almost all his thrillers from Murder Without Crime (1951) onwards. 7

in J. Lee Thompson
Steve Chibnall

definite continuities with the director’s early works like Double Error and Murder Without Crime. Finally, the picture’s convoluted plot allowed Lee Thompson to explore classic Hitchcock territory, just as he had with Cape Fear. A woman who is believed dead and who has assumed a new identity and who is then asked to impersonate her former self is a loud echo of Kim Novak’s character in Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958

in J. Lee Thompson
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Brian McFarlane and Anthony Slide

. First apprenticed as an architect, he did WW2 service in the RAF and entered films in 1947 with Brighton Rock . Later in life he had another sort of fame as a designer of hotels in Asia. His son, Paul Ashton , is a television producer. OTHER BRITISH FILMS INCLUDE : Murder Without Crime (1950), The End of the Affair (1954), Indiscreet (1958), Mr Topaze (1961), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), The Magus (1968). Ashton, Roy ( b Perth, Australia, 1909 – d Farnham, Surrey, 1995). Make-up artist. Ashton’s filmography tells his story: his film career

in The Encyclopedia of British Film