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Overview for Alexander Mackendrick
Alexander Mackendrick

Alexander Mackendrick


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Also Known As: Sandy Mackendrick Died: December 22, 1993
Born: September 8, 1912 Cause of Death: pneumonia
Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Profession: Director ... director college film department dean screenwriter advertising animator commercial artist


Gifted director whose films are marked by fine writing and acting and who is best known for his ingenious Ealing comedies. Born to Scottish parents in the US and raised in Scotland, Mackendrick worked in advertising and then made propaganda shorts during WWII. In 1946 he joined Ealing Studios, co-writing a number of Basil Dearden movies before making his directing debut with the comedy classic "Whisky Galore/Tight Little Island" (1949). It was followed by several other sharply observed, often darkly satirical comedies, such as the brilliant "The Man in the White Suit" (1951) and the equally memorable "The Ladykillers" (1955), both starring Alec Guinness and both superb examples of the dry, adult, yet farcical Ealing style.

Mackendrick's ability to elicit outstanding performances from his actors, particularly children, is displayed in the wonderful study of the teaching of a deaf girl, "Mandy/Crash of Silence" (1952) and in the lesser but enjoyable adventure saga, "A High Wind in Jamaica" (1965). He also directed Tony Curtis in two of his best performances, as the opportunistic press agent in the scathing drama, "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), Mackendrick's first Hollywood film, and in the Southern California comedy "Don't Make Waves" (1967). In 1969 Mackendrick was appointed Dean of the Film and Video Department at the California Institute of the Arts, an institution with which he remained affiliated for many years. Although his small output of nine features is unfortunate given his unusually high batting average, Mackendrick enjoyed a distinguished career in education, continuing his teaching work even after he gave up his term as dean.

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