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Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler

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Also Known As: Eliot Reed Died: October 22, 1998
Born: June 28, 1909 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: novelist, screenwriter, assistant director (Army), actor, copywriter, engineer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Thriller novelist Eric Ambler, often credited with elevating the spy genre to the level of esteemed literature, was introduced into the film business while serving in World War II. He worked with luminaries such as Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov in the Royal Army Film Unit, producing propaganda movies like "The Way Ahead" (1944). Before he turned scriptwriter, the author's fiction was brought to the screen in film adaptations of his novels including "Journey Into Fear" (1942) and "Hotel Reserve" (1944). Also in 1944, Peter Lorre starred in "The Mask of Demetrios", a thriller based on Ambler's 1939 novel "A Coffin for Demetrios". Both the film and the novel enjoyed popularity and acclaim, and Ambler's Balkan set story has even been called prophetic, as the novel mirrors the political upheaval in the area that occurred decades later.After leaving the military in 1946 with a lieutenant-colonel rank and a US Bronze Star, the former advertising copywriter joined J Arthur Rank in London as a producer and screenwriter. His screen credits included "The Clouded Yellow" (1950), "The Promoter" (1952), and "The Purple Plain" (1954). Ambler was nominated for an Academy Award for his script "The Cruel Sea", a 1953...

Thriller novelist Eric Ambler, often credited with elevating the spy genre to the level of esteemed literature, was introduced into the film business while serving in World War II. He worked with luminaries such as Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov in the Royal Army Film Unit, producing propaganda movies like "The Way Ahead" (1944). Before he turned scriptwriter, the author's fiction was brought to the screen in film adaptations of his novels including "Journey Into Fear" (1942) and "Hotel Reserve" (1944). Also in 1944, Peter Lorre starred in "The Mask of Demetrios", a thriller based on Ambler's 1939 novel "A Coffin for Demetrios". Both the film and the novel enjoyed popularity and acclaim, and Ambler's Balkan set story has even been called prophetic, as the novel mirrors the political upheaval in the area that occurred decades later.

After leaving the military in 1946 with a lieutenant-colonel rank and a US Bronze Star, the former advertising copywriter joined J Arthur Rank in London as a producer and screenwriter. His screen credits included "The Clouded Yellow" (1950), "The Promoter" (1952), and "The Purple Plain" (1954). Ambler was nominated for an Academy Award for his script "The Cruel Sea", a 1953 film starring Stanley Baker and Denholm Elliot, adapted from a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. He moved into disaster dramas, writing the screenplays for "A Night to Remember" (1958), the British adaptation of Walter Lord's popular Titanic chronicle, and "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" (1959), starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston.

While writing screenplays, Ambler continued to work on novels, putting out over a dozen more during and after his foray into film. Another of his visions hit the big screen in 1964, when "Topkapi", an adaptation of his 1962 novel "The Light of Day" was released, starring former war buddy Peter Ustinov. That novel also earned him the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award in 1964. Besides his successful work in film and literature, the prolific author also ventured into television, most notably as a writer on the legendary "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS 1955-60, 1962-64; NBC 1960-62, 1964-65). He was also involved in Hitchcock's later suspense anthology program "Suspicion", aired on NBC during the 1957-58 season while "Checkmate" (CBS, 1960-62) was an Ambler-created detective series. Additionally. he was the producer of the ABC anthology series "Alcoa Premiere" (1961-1963), hosted by Fred Astaire. In 1981, Ambler published his last novel "The Care of Time" and four years later issued his autobiography "Here Lies Eric Ambler".

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in London
:
After dropping out of college, worked for an electrical-engineering company and later as an advertising copywriter
1942:
His novel "Journey Into Fear" was adapted into a film produced by and starring Orson Welles
:
Joined the Royal Artillery during World War II; was later drafted into the Army Film Unit where he worked with Thorold Dickenson, Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov
1944:
James Mason starred in the film "Hotel Reserve", a thriller based on Ambler's novel of the same name; Peter Lorre starred in "The Mask of Dimitrios" based upon his novel "A Coffin for Dimitrios"
1946:
Left the military, ranked lieutenant-colonel and awarded a US Bronze Star, and joined J Arthur Rank as producer and screenwriter
1950:
Collaborated with Australian author Charles Rodda on thrillers that were published under joint pseudonym of Eliot Reed
1950:
With Janet Green co-wrote the screenplay for "The Clouded Yellow", a thriller starring Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons
1951:
Published first novel under own name, "Judgment on Deltchev"
1952:
Wrote the screenplay for "The Promoter", a drama starring Alec Guinness and Glynis Johns
1953:
Nominated for an Academy Award for his script "The Cruel Sea", a film starring Stanley Baker and Denholm Elliott
1954:
Was screenwriter for "The Purple Plain", a World War II psychodrama starring Gregory Peck
:
Writer for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"(CBS, NBC)
:
Writer for "Suspicion", an Alfred Hitchcock produced suspense anthology program aired on NBC
1958:
Wrote the screenplay for "A Night to Remember", a British adaptation of Walter Lord's popular book chronicling the Titanic disaster
1959:
Had screenplay credit in the adaptation of the adventure "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston
:
"Checkmate", a detective series created by Ambler, aired on CBS
:
Produced the drama anthology series "Alcoa Premiere" hosted by Fred Astaire and featuring star-studded casts
1964:
"Topkapi", an adaptation of his novel "The Light of Day", was released as a film starring Peter Ustinov and Maximillian Schell
1981:
Created Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II
1981:
Published last novel "The Care of Time"
1985:
Issued autobiography "Here Lies"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of London: -
Colfe's Grammar School: -

Notes

"Virtually single-handedly, he redefined the thriller so as to make possible the achievement of such postwar realists as John le Carre and Len Deighton." --critic Peter Lewis in 1990

"Dorothy Sayers had taken the detective story and made it literate. Why shouldn't I do the same with spies?" --Eric Ambler

"As I saw it, the thriller had nowhere to go but up. I set out to start the upward trend." --Ambler writing in his 1985 autobiography "Here Lies"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Louise Crombie. Married in 1939; divorced in May 1958.
wife:
Joan Harrison. Screenwriter; producer. Former assistant to Alfred Hitchcock; second wife; married from 1958 until her death in 1994.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Alfred Percy Ambler. Musician, publicist, laborer.
mother:
Amy Madeline Ambler.

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Dark Frontier"
"Background to Danger"
"Cause for Alarm"
"Epitaph for a Spy"
"A Coffin for Demetrios"
"Journey Into Fear"
"Skytip"
"Tender to Danger"
"Judgement on Deltchev"
"The Schirmer Inheritance"
"State of Seige"
"Passage of Arms"
"The Light of Day"
"A Kind of Anger"
"Dirty Story"
"The Intercom Conspiracy"
"The Levanter"
"Dr Frigo"
"Send No More Roses"
"The Siege of the Villa Lipp"
"The Care of Time"
"Here Lies Eric Ambler"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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