Alexander Mackendrick


Director
Alexander Mackendrick

About

Also Known As
Sandy Mackendrick
Birth Place
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Born
September 08, 1912
Died
December 22, 1993
Cause of Death
Pneumonia

Biography

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 c...

Biography

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.

Life Events

1918

Returned to Great Britain from the U.S.

1937

Worked in the script department at Pinewood Studios; provided (along with Sinclair Hill) the original story for the feature, "Midnight Menace"

1944

Was based in Rome

1946

Signed contract as screenwriter with Ealing Studios

1948

Co-wrote the screenplay for "Saraband for Dead Lovers"

1949

Feature directorial debut, "Whisky Galore" (U.S. Release title, "Tight Little Island")

1950

Provided additional dialogue for, and was uncredited second unit director on "The Blue Lamp"

1951

First feature writing credit on a film he also directed: co-authoring the screenplay for "The Man in the White Suit"

1957

First U.S. Film, "Sweet Smell of Success"

1958

Credited with "script assistance" on "Fanfare", directed by Bert Haanstra

1959

Began work directing "The Devil's Disciple"; was fired after a week and was replaced by Guy Hamilton

1960

Directed Broadway production, "Face of a Hero"

1961

Began directing "The Guns of Navarone"; injured his back after several weeks of work; replaced by J. Lee Thompson

1963

Directed last British film, "Sammy Going South"

1964

Directed an episode of the TV drama series, "The Defenders"; episode title, "The Hidden Fury"

1966

Directed additional scenes (uncredited) of the U.S. Film, "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad"

1967

Last film, "Don't Make Waves"

1969

Named dean of the film and video department of the California Institute of the Arts; received funding by the Walt Disney Foundation

1972

Was an advisor for the short, U.S.-made film, "Practical Film Making"

1976

Was the subject of a documentary film made for TV, "Mackendrick"

1978

Named a fellow of the California Institute of the Arts; resigned deanship, but continued teaching

Videos

Movie Clip

Don't Make Waves (1967) - California Welcomes You The title song composed to order by Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman and performed by their band The Byrds (also the flip-side of their single “Have You Seen Her Face”), and director Alexander Mackendrick’s introduction of leads Tony Curtis and, at a distance, Claudia Cardinale, from Don’t Make Waves, 1967.
Don't Make Waves (1967) - Smell The Picture? Evening at the Malibu home of flighty Italian painter Laura (Claudia Cardinale), who earlier in the day destroyed the car (and pants) owned by baffled tourist Carlo (Tony Curtis), she’s supposed to be finding her insurance documents, in the MGM beach farce Don’t Make Waves, 1967.
Devil's Disciple, The (1959) - Fame Without Ability Narration from George Bernard Shaw's play, and Revolutionary War stop-motion animation, leading to the first scene between General Burgoyne (Laurence Olivier), a historical figure and himself a playwright, and Swindon (Harry Andrews), in The Devil's Disciple, 1959, produced by and starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957) - Open, Go With The Globe The rousing New York opening credit sequence to Sweet Smell of Success, 1957, introducing Tony Curtis as press agent Sidney Falco, and indirectly, Burt Lancaster as columnist J.J. Hunsecker, directed by Alexander MacKendrick.
Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) - You Can Play Marbles With His Eyeballs Press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) rings high-powered columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) with news that he’s arranged for another columnist to run an item that should break up his sheltered sister’s romance with a jazz musician, in Sweet Smell Of Success, 1957.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957) - Cat's In The Bag Famous scene, now outside 21 Club on West 52nd Street, dismissing cop Kello (Emile Meyer), columnist Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) and press agent Sidney (Tony Curtis), cutting a deal in their special argot, in Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell Of Success, 1957.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957) - Your Meaty Sympathetic Arms One of Tony Curtis' best scenes ever, as press agent Sidney Falco with assistant Sally (Jeff Donnell), having failed to get an item published for restauranteur Joe (Joseph Leon), and at the mercy of still not-seen columnist Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), early in Sweet Smell Of Success, 1957,
Don't Make Waves (1967) - Give Him Some Air! Out-of-towner Carlo (Tony Curtis) who, although innocent, was sent to sleep on the Malibu beach by the sugar-daddy of artist Laura (Claudia Cardinale), whom he hardly knows, wakes up and meets locals including surfer Sharon Tate, bawdy directing by Alexander Mackendrick, in Don’t Make Waves, 1967.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - It's Mrs. Wilberforce After prim opening credits from Ealing Studios, the introduction of Katie Johnson as "Mrs. Wilberforce," whom the local constables are convinced is quite daft, in Alexander Mackendrick's The Ladykillers, 1955, starring Alec Guinness.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - Windows Of The Soul Spooky Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness) sneaks up on dotty landlady Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) who's confused about parrots and husbands, in an early scene from Alexander Mackendrick's The Ladykillers, 1955.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - There's No Driver Here Nice location shooting around the old Kings Cross coal drop in London, and almost surprising competence from Alec Guinness (as Professor Marcus) and crew (Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Danny Green, Cecil Parker) executing their heist, Alexander Mackendrick directing the Ealing Studios hit The Ladykillers, 1955.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - You Must Be Professionals Scheming thieves (Alec Guinness as "Professor Marcus," with Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Danny Green, Cecil Parker) leap to their string quartet ruse when landlady Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) appears, in The Ladykillers, 1955.

Trailer

Bibliography