Frank Launder


Director

About

Birth Place
Hertfordshire, England, GB
Died
February 23, 1997

Biography

Frank Launder left his job as a civil servant because he wanted to entertain, and that he did as a director, screenwriter, and producer -- usually in partnership with Sidney Gilliat -- of scores of British productions from 1928 until 1980. He is particularly remembered for the "St. Trinian's" series of films, which began with "The Happiest Days of Your Life" (writer-producer-director, 19...

Family & Companions

Bernadette O'Farrell
Wife
Actor. Second wife; survived him; died in September 1999.

Biography

Frank Launder left his job as a civil servant because he wanted to entertain, and that he did as a director, screenwriter, and producer -- usually in partnership with Sidney Gilliat -- of scores of British productions from 1928 until 1980. He is particularly remembered for the "St. Trinian's" series of films, which began with "The Happiest Days of Your Life" (writer-producer-director, 1950), and focused on a boisterous, unruly school for girls. Together with Gilliat, Launder also wrote "The Lady Vanishes" (1939) for director Alfred Hitchcock, one of the latter's most successful movies during his British period. The film focused on the disappearance of an older woman and how a younger woman gets caught up in intrigue in the search for the old dame.

Launder joined the Brighton Repertory Company while working as a civil servant, and wrote a play produced by the company, "There Was No Signpost." This led to a trial as a scriptwriter, beginning with the silent "Cocktails" in 1928. Launder then went to work as a staff writer of British International Pictures, churning out scenario after scenario, including adaptations of Thomas Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree" (1928), and George Bernard Shaw's "How He Lied to Her Husband" (1931). Simultaneously, Launder was writing comedy material for Leslie Fuller and Ernie Lotinga, popular comics of the day, and wrote the story for "Oh, Mr. Porter," a 1937 comedy starring Will Hay. Launder first collaborated with Sidney Gilliat on "Seven Sinners" (1936), and in 1939 their stock rose with "The Lady Vanishes" for Hitchcock. They continued writing thrillers, such as "Night Train to Munich" (1940), then co-wrote and co-directed "Partners in Crime," a 1942 short film. It displayed their talents well enough so they could collaborate on the feature "Millions Like Us" (1943), a warm study of women working in the wartime factories. After that beginning, Launder and Gilliat would take turns directing, but usually co-wrote and co-produced their films, having formed their own company, Individual Pictures, in 1944.

Launder directed the comedy thriller "I See a Dark Stranger" (1946), "Captain Boycott," an historical drama about poor Irish farmers who revolt, and "The Blue Lagoon" (1949) -- the original tale of youngsters marooned on a desert island from the novel by de Vere Stacpoole. But the St. Trinian's series, which began in 1950 with "The Happiest Days of Your Life" were Launder's most successful works. Alistair Sim starred in the films, playing both the headmistress of the school and, on occasion, her no-good brother. Launder also directed "Geordie" (1955), a film about a Scottish boy who is weakly as a youth and then becomes an Olympic champion. During the 60s, Gilliat and Launder were active in the management of British Lion, the indie film company, and devoted less time to writing and actual production. In 1972, Gilliat retired and Launder made his last film, "The Wilcats of St. Trinian's" in 1980, before retiring to the south of France. He died in Monaco in 1997, survived by his second wife, actress Bernadette O'Farrell.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Wildcats of St. Trinian's (1980)
Director
The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (1967)
Director
The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1961)
Director
Left, Right and Centre (1959)
Director (Tv Panel Game Sequences)
The Bridal Path (1959)
Director
Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957)
Director
Wee Geordie (1955)
Director
The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)
Director
Folly to Be Wise (1952)
Director
Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951)
Director
The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)
Director
The Blue Lagoon (1949)
Director
Captain Boycott (1947)
Director
I See A Dark Stranger (1946)
Director
2,000 Women (1944)
Director
Millions Like Us (1943)
Director

Writer (Feature Film)

The Wildcats of St. Trinian's (1980)
Screenwriter
The Lady Vanishes (1979)
From Screenplay
The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (1967)
Screenwriter
Ring of Treason (1964)
Screenwriter
The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1961)
Screenwriter
The Bridal Path (1959)
Screenwriter
She Played with Fire (1958)
Screenwriter
Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957)
Screenwriter
The Green Man (1956)
Screenwriter
The Green Man (1956)
Play As Source Material ("Meet A Body")
Wee Geordie (1955)
Screenplay
The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)
Screenwriter
Folly to Be Wise (1952)
Screenwriter
Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951)
Screenwriter
The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)
Screenwriter
The Blue Lagoon (1949)
Screenplay
Captain Boycott (1947)
Screenplay
I See A Dark Stranger (1946)
Screenwriter
I See A Dark Stranger (1946)
From Story
The Rake's Progress (1945)
Screenwriter
2,000 Women (1944)
Writer
The Young Mr. Pitt (1943)
Screenwriter
Millions Like Us (1943)
Screenplay
Mail Train (1941)
Story
Night Train (1940)
Screenwriter
Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday (1939)
Screenwriter
A Girl Must Live (1939)
Screenwriter
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Screenwriter
Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937)
From Story
Seven Sinners (1936)
Adaptation
Twelve Good Men (1936)
Screenwriter
Where's Sally? (1936)
Screenwriter
Educated Evans (1936)
Screenwriter
Emil and the Detectives (1935)
Screenwriter
So You Won't Talk! (1935)
Screenwriter
Get Off My Foot (1935)
Screenwriter
Mr. What's-His-Name (1935)
Screenwriter
I Give My Heart (1935)
Screenwriter
So You Won't Talk! (1935)
Dialogue
I Give My Heart (1935)
Adaptation
Rolling Home (1935)
Screenwriter
Facing the Music (1933)
Screenwriter
Happy (1933)
Screenwriter
Hawleys of High Street (1933)
Screenwriter
Happy (1933)
Dialogue
Happy (1933)
Adaptation
A Southern Maid (1933)
Screenwriter
Facing the Music (1933)
Adaptation
A Southern Maid (1933)
Adaptation
Josser in the Army (1932)
Screenwriter
After Office Hours (1932)
Screenwriter
The "W" Plan (1931)
Additional Dialogue
Keepers of Youth (1931)
Screenwriter
How He Lied to Her Husband (1931)
Screenwriter
Hobson's Choice (1931)
Screenwriter
The "W" Plan (1931)
Screenplay
Song of Soho (1930)
Screenwriter
The Middle Watch (1930)
Screenwriter
Children of Chance (1930)
Screenwriter
Harmony Heaven (1930)
Additional Dialogue
The Compulsory Husband (1930)
Dialogue
Under the Greenwood Tree (1929)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Endless Night (1972)
Executive Producer
Ooh... You Are Awful (1972)
Executive Producer
Only Two Can Play (1962)
Executive Producer
The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1961)
Producer
Left, Right and Centre (1959)
Producer
The Bridal Path (1959)
Producer
She Played with Fire (1958)
Producer
Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957)
Producer
The Green Man (1956)
Producer
Wee Geordie (1955)
Producer
The Constant Husband (1955)
Producer
The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)
Producer
The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953)
Producer
Folly to Be Wise (1952)
Producer
La Minute de Verite (1952)
Producer
Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951)
Producer
The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)
Producer
State Secret (1950)
Producer
The Blue Lagoon (1949)
Producer
London Belongs to Me (1948)
Producer
Captain Boycott (1947)
Producer
I See A Dark Stranger (1946)
Producer
Green For Danger (1946)
Producer
The Rake's Progress (1945)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

A Southern Maid (1933)
Lyrics

Title Design (Feature Film)

Cocktails (1928)
Titles

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

We Dive at Dawn (1943)
Other
The Compulsory Husband (1930)
Supervisor

Life Events

1928

Wrote first script, "Cocktails"

1936

First collaboration with Sidney Gilliat, script for "Seven Sinners"

1939

Co-wrote script for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes"

1942

Directed first film short, "Partners in Crime"

1943

Co-directed "Millions Like Us"

1944

With Gilliat, formed Individual Pictures

1950

Launched St. Trinian's series with "The Happiest Days of Your Life"

1980

Directed last film, "The Wildcats of St. Trinian's"

Videos

Movie Clip

Green For Danger (1946) - Churchill Telling Lies Nurse Freddi Linley (Sally Gray) doing rounds at the provincial English military hospital, comes upon suave surgeon Eden (Leo Genn), expressing concern about her relations with her fiancè, his junior colleague, when buzz-bombs intrude, followed by the high-strung chief O-R nurse Bates (Judy Campbell) and a delirious patient, parroting what sounds like Nazi radio propaganda, in the dark Frank Launder-Sidney Gilliat mystery Green For Danger, 1946.
Green For Danger (1946) - You're In His Way Part of another elaborate set-piece in the Frank Launder-Sidney Gilliat production, the hospital dance, Dr Eden (Leo Genn) counsels distraught nurse Esther (Rosamund John) about his ex-lover, her deceased mother, then nurse Bates (Judy Campbell) seethes toward Dr. Barnes (Trevor Howard) whose fianceè nurse Freddi (Sally Gray) becomes his next partner, in Green For Danger, 1946.
Green For Danger (1946) - A Tatty Little Hospital Hop Interlocking exposition in a complex post-operative scene, surgeon Eden (Leo Genn) speaks with the engaged-but-arguing anesthetist Barnes and nurse Linley (Trevor Howard, Sally Gray), then nurse Woods (Megs Jenkins) and overseeing Sister Bates (Judy Campbell), nurse Esther Sanson (Rosamund John) also involved, early in the acclaimed English wartime murder mystery Green For Danger, 1946.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - He Played For The Gentlemen Two new characters, about an hour into the picture, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as Brits Charters and Caldicott are catching the Berlin to Munich train when they’re surprised to see Rex Harrison, as undercover agent Randall, posing as a Nazi, sneaking Margaret Lockwood and her father out of Germany, watched by suspicious Paul Henreid, with a not-too obscure cricket reference, in Carol Reed’s Night Train To Munich, 1940.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - So Did Napoleon By way of introducing the Times of London, with a reference to the German foreign minister, Czech refugee Anna (Margaret Lockwood) has been advised by her rescuer Karl (Paul Henreid), not realizing HE’s an undercover Nazi spy, to place an ad, in hopes she’ll lead him to her fugitive scientist father, but she trusts Roland Culver, the British intelligence man on the phone, another wrinkle, in Night Train To Munich, 1940.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - Only Love Can Lead The Way In his first scene, Rex Harrison poses as singer Gus, practicing tradecraft as he initially rebuffs Czech refugee Anna (Margaret Lockwood), who got mysterious instructions to come to coastal Brightbourne (modeled on Brighton), in search of her exiled scientist father, not aware the Nazis are watching her (!), in Carol Reed’s Night Train To Munich, 1940.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - I'm Suffering From An Eye Strain Substantial plot twist, to infuriate any viewer who was liking Paul Henreid as Karl Marsen, Czech concentration camp escapee who, now in London, reveals himself to be a Nazi mole, visiting an opthalmologist (Felix Aylmer) who, after a clever bit with an eye chart, does exposition, in Night Train To Munich, 1940, from director Carol Reed and producer Alexander Korda.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - We Shall Be Invaded After a prologue on various Nazi invasions of 1939, with Hitler in newsreels, then indirectly portrayed, we meet James Harcourt as Czech scientist Bomasch, with chiefs of his military industry employer, who winds up calling his daughter, top-billed Margaret Lockwood, in Alexander Korda and Carol Reed’s Night Train To Munich, 1940.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - Nature Endowed Me With A Gift Rex Harrison, whom we now know to be a British intelligence man posing as a seaside singer, intercepts a letter sent by Anna (Margaret Lockwood), testy daughter of the Czech fugitive scientist he’s minding, which we also know was addressed to a Nazi agent who’s got people watching her Carol Reed’s Night Train To Munich, 1940.
Night Train To Munich (1940) - Insolence Does Not Pay Daughter of an exiled Czech scientist, now conscripted by the Nazi occupiers as a prison nurse, Margaret Lockwood (as Anna) observes as a snarling doctor (John Wengraf) examines Paul (von) Henreid, as inmate Marsen, who seems a lot like Victor Laszlo, his first scene, in director Carol Reed’s Night Train To Munich 1940.
Belles Of St. Trinian's, The (1954) - Scripture And Needlework First scene for Alastair Sim in both parts of his double role, Vivienne Martin as Bella, daughter of Clarence Fritton, arriving with him at the school which evidently has all the locals terrified, and is run by his shiftless sister Millicent, in The Belles Of St. Trinian’s, 1954, based on popular cartoons and books by Ronald Searle.
Belles Of St. Trinian's, The (1954) - Get It Off Your Conscience! Miss Buckland (Mary Merrall) introduces the prized new pupil (Lorna Henderson as Princess Fatima) to ne’er-do-well girls’ school staffers, Renee Houston, Beryl Reid, Balbina, Hermione Baddeley, Irene Handl and Betty Ann Davies, later joined by their boss Miss Fritton (Alastair Sim in drag), in The Belles Of St. Trinian’s, 1954.

Companions

Bernadette O'Farrell
Wife
Actor. Second wife; survived him; died in September 1999.

Bibliography