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.
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Returned to Great Britain from the U.S.
Worked in the script department at Pinewood Studios; provided (along with Sinclair Hill) the original story for the feature, "Midnight Menace"
Was based in Rome
Signed contract as screenwriter with Ealing Studios
Co-wrote the screenplay for "Saraband for Dead Lovers"
Feature directorial debut, "Whisky Galore" (U.S. Release title, "Tight Little Island")
Provided additional dialogue for, and was uncredited second unit director on "The Blue Lamp"
First feature writing credit on a film he also directed: co-authoring the screenplay for "The Man in the White Suit"
First U.S. Film, "Sweet Smell of Success"
Credited with "script assistance" on "Fanfare", directed by Bert Haanstra
Began work directing "The Devil's Disciple"; was fired after a week and was replaced by Guy Hamilton
Directed Broadway production, "Face of a Hero"
Began directing "The Guns of Navarone"; injured his back after several weeks of work; replaced by J. Lee Thompson
Directed last British film, "Sammy Going South"
Directed an episode of the TV drama series, "The Defenders"; episode title, "The Hidden Fury"
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"
Last film, "Don't Make Waves"
Named dean of the film and video department of the California Institute of the Arts; received funding by the Walt Disney Foundation
Was an advisor for the short, U.S.-made film, "Practical Film Making"
Was the subject of a documentary film made for TV, "Mackendrick"
Named a fellow of the California Institute of the Arts; resigned deanship, but continued teaching