Ronald Neame


Director, Director Of Photography
Ronald Neame

About

Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
April 23, 1911
Died
June 16, 2010
Cause of Death
Natural Causes/complications From Fall

Biography

Although he may not be as widely remembered as some of his contemporaries, cinematographer-turned-director Ronald Neame made important contributions to British cinema in a career that spanned seven decades. Even when he formally retired from making movies, he continued to impart his knowledge teaching classes at UCLA and recording commentary for DVD releases of his earlier work.It would ...

Family & Companions

Beryl Yolanda Heanly
Wife
Married on October 15, 1933.
Donna Neame
Wife

Notes

For several years, Neame has taught a course on filmmaking at UCLA.

In 1971, he began pre-production on a biopic "Isabella of Spain", but the project was cancelled before lensing.

Biography

Although he may not be as widely remembered as some of his contemporaries, cinematographer-turned-director Ronald Neame made important contributions to British cinema in a career that spanned seven decades. Even when he formally retired from making movies, he continued to impart his knowledge teaching classes at UCLA and recording commentary for DVD releases of his earlier work.

It would seem almost an inevitability that this son of pioneer photographer Elwin Neame and actress Ivy Close would seek a career in motion pictures. Following his father's untimely 1927 death, Neame began working, eventually taking on a position as an office boy at British International Pictures. While he briefly had a foray into portrait photography, he soon decided he preferred shooting moving images and set about to work his way through the system, starting as a camera assistant on the 1929 Alfred Hitchcock-directed "Blackmail." Following a six-year apprenticeship as a camera operator, Neame graduated to full-fledge director of photography on the historical drama "Drake of England" (1935). Over the next decade, he would shoot numerous features ranging from "A Star Fell From Heaven" (1936) to "Penny Paradise" (1938) to "Major Barbara" (1941) and "...One of Our Aircraft Is Missing" (1942).

During the height of WWII, Neame served as cinematographer on the undisputed masterpiece "In Which We Serve" (1942), about the crew of a British fighting ship, co-directed by Noel Coward and David Lean. For Neame, it began a working relationship with Lean in which he branched out into other areas of filmmaking. Serving as executive in charge of production, he oversaw the now classic romance "Brief Encounter" (1945), co-wrote and produced both "Blithe Spirit" (1945, also photographed) and "Great Expectations" (1946), and produced "Oliver Twist" (1948).

Neame stepped into the director's chair with the 1947 film "Take My Life" and went on to enjoy working with actor Alec Guinness in the comedies "The Card/The Promoter" (1952) and "The Horse's Mouth" (1958) and the superb war drama "Tunes of Glory" (1960). Over the course of his career, he proved a master with actors, guiding the Judy Garland vehicle "I Could Go On Singing" (1963, which hit rather close to home for its talented, if troubled star), and garnered praise for his handling of the eccentric Edith Evans in "The Chalk Garden" (1964). "Gambit" (1966) was a delightful caper comedy that teamed Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine and demonstrated his already well-honed comedic skills. Switching gears, Neame directed "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1969) and enjoyed one of his more successful ventures, steering leading lady Maggie Smith to a Best Actress Oscar as the fascistic Scottish schoolteacher.

With "Scrooge" (1970), Neame showed a flair for large screen musicals, although he did encourage star Albert Finney to overact some in the title role. The director perhaps enjoyed his biggest hit with the all-star disaster-themed "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972). Although in retrospect the film has taken hits for its weak script, Neame managed to make the proceedings tolerable and enjoyable. He went on to helm the spy thriller "The Odessa File" (1974) and two Walter Matthau comedies, "Hopscotch" (1980) and "First Monday in October" (1981) before ending his career on a relatively high note with the fine comedy "Foreign Body" (1986).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Magic Balloon (1990)
Director
Foreign Body (1986)
Director
First Monday in October (1981)
Director
Hopscotch (1980)
Director
Meteor (1979)
Director
The Odessa File (1974)
Director
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Director
Scrooge (1970)
Director
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
Director
Prudence and the Pill (1968)
Uncredited addl Director (see note)
A Man Could Get Killed (1966)
Director
Gambit (1966)
Director
Mister Moses (1965)
Director
The Chalk Garden (1964)
Director
I Could Go On Singing (1963)
Director
Escape from Zahrain (1962)
Director
Tunes of Glory (1960)
Director
The Horse's Mouth (1958)
Director
WINDOM'S WAY (1958)
Director
The Seventh Sin (1957)
Director
The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Director
Man with a Million (1954)
Director
The Card (1952)
Director
The Golden Salamander (1949)
Director
Take My Life (1947)
Director

Cinematography (Feature Film)

A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
R.A.F. flying seq Photographer in England by
Against The Tide (1937)
Cinematographer
Cafe Colette (1936)
Cinematographer

Writer (Feature Film)

The Magic Balloon (1990)
Screenplay
The Magic Balloon (1990)
From Story
Great Expectations (1946)
Screenplay
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Writer (Adaptation)
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Screenplay
This Happy Breed (1944)
Adaptation

Producer (Feature Film)

Escape from Zahrain (1962)
Producer
The Horse's Mouth (1958)
Presented By
The Card (1952)
Producer
The Passionate Friends (1949)
Producer
Oliver Twist (1948)
Producer
Great Expectations (1946)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Brief Encounter (1945)
Production Manager
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Photography
This Happy Breed (1944)
Photography
In Which We Serve (1942)
Photography
One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1941)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Rocket Gibraltar (1988)
Assistant

Cast (Special)

Shelley Winters: Full Disclosure (2001)
Interviewee
Hitchcock, Selznick & the End of Hollywood (1999)
Dial H For Hitchcock: The Genius Behind the Showman (1999)
Interviewee
Unscripted Hollywood (1995)

Life Events

1923

After father's death, dropped out of school

1927

Joined British International Pictures as a messenger and general assistant

1928

Began career as an assistant cameraman at Elstree Studios

1929

Feature debut, worked as assistant cameraman on "Blackmail", directed by Alfred Hitchcock

1935

Debut as director of photography, "Drake of England/Drake the Pirate"; originally hired as camera operator then assumsed cinematography duties when Claude Friese-Greene left the production

1941

Served as director of photography on "Major Barbara". directed by Gabriel Pascal

1942

Shot the Powell-Pressburger film "...One of Our Aircraft Is Missing"

1942

Began association with David Lean as cinematographer on "In Which We Serve"

1945

With Lean, co-wrote the film adaptation of Noel Coward's play "Blithe Spirit"; also served as cinematographer

1946

Co-wrote script and did uncredited photography on "Great Expectations", directed by Lean

1947

Feature directorial debut, "Take My Life"

1948

Was a producer on Lean's film version of "Oliver Twist"

1952

Directed the comedy "The Card/The Promoter", starring Alec Guinness as a resourceful young man out to climb the ladders of society

1956

Helmed the engaging spy thriller "The Man Who Never Was"

1958

Reunited with Guinness (who scripted as well as starred) for "The Horse's Mouth", based on Joyce Cary's novel about an extravagantly talented, sometimes monstrously behaved artist

1960

Directed what is arguably his best film, "Tunes of Glory", focusing on the clash between two Scottish military men (played by Guinness and John Mills)

1963

Helmed the Judy Garland vehicle "I Could Go On Singing"

1964

Directed the film version of the stage play "The Chalk Garden", featuring Edith Evans in an Oscar-nominated performance

1966

Was responsible for the studio scenes (shot in Rome) for the film "A Man Could Get Killed"

1966

Helmed the delightful caper flick "Gambit", starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine

1968

Did uncredited direction on "Prudence and the Pill"; replaced Fielder Cook

1969

Helmed the film version of the hit play "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"; star Maggie Smith earned her first Oscar

1970

Directed the musical feature "Scrooge", adapted from the Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol"

1972

Enjoyed commercial success with the all-star, disaster-themed movie "The Poseidon Adventure"

1974

Directed the film adaptation of the Frederic Forsythe spy novel "The Odessa File"

1979

Returned to disaster-themed popcorn flicks with the so-so "Meteor"

1980

Guided the Walter Matthau-Glenda Jackson comedy "Hopscotch"

1981

Reunited with Matthau for the comedy-drama "First Monday in October", about the first female Supreme Court justice

1986

Final feature-length film, the comedy "Foreign Body"

1990

Co-wrote and directed the promotional featurette "The Magic Balloon"

Videos

Movie Clip

Tunes of Glory (1960) - The Colonel's Here! The new commanding officer of a Scottish regiment, Colonel Barrow (John Mills), arrives early, interrupting the farewell party for acting-Colonel Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness) in director Ronald Neame's Tunes of Glory, 1960.
Tunes Of Glory (1960) - Opening, Miss Sinclair With exteriors from the real Stirling Castle on Scotland's River Forth, Susannah York (in her official debut, as "Morag") navigates around her father Col. Sinclair (Alec Guinness) and his celebrating troops in the opening to Ronald Neame's Tunes of Glory, 1960.
In Which We Serve (1942) - The Story Of A Ship Heady titles, dedication and credits, from creator Noel Coward and his colleague, sharing his first directing credit, David Lean, the technical and naval opening from In Which We Serve, 1942.
In Which We Serve (1942) - What A Bitter Blow Kinross (the writer, producer and co-director Noel Coward) addressing his crew, including John Mills, Michael Wilding and Bernard Miles, then hearing Prime Minister Chamberlain's announcement, from the government-backed propaganda hit In Which We Serve, 1942.
Gambit (1966) - Will She Cooperate? In the opening we followed Michael Caine, as English Harry, into a Hong Kong club where Shirley MacLaine performs in the revue, and now after the show he reveals to friend Emile (John Abbott) the scheme, and we meet Roger C. Carmel as obsequious Ram, in director Ronald Neame’s Gambit, 1966.
Gambit (1967) - I Had To Have Her We don’t know at this point that we’re seeing the caper only as it plays out in the imagination of thief Harry (Michael Caine), in which Arab potentate Shabandar (Herbert Lom) is wholly entranced by the resemblance of Shirley MacLaine, as taxi-dancer Nicole, to his late wife, in Gambit, 1966.
Gambit (1966) - You Weren't Being Tricky Enough Thief Harry (Michael Caine), now in the dicier real-life version of his imagined heist, in fictional Dammuz with troublesome Nicole (Shirley MacLaine, whom he recruited because she’s a dead-ringer for a rich Arab’s deceased wife), trying to find find another accomplice, and forced to evade goons, in director Ronald Neame’s Gambit, 1966.
Passionate Friends, The (1949) - The Restrictions Imposed Near soliloquy by Claude Rains as banker Howard, alarmed because his wife and her supposedly platonic friend left their tickets for the theater behind, Betty Ann Davies his assistant, outwardly calm but with intense double-entendre in the language, from H.G. Wells’ novel and Eric Ambler’s script, in director David Lean’s The Passionate Friends, 1949.
Scrooge (1970) - Uncle Ebenezer! Nephew Harry (Michael Medwin) drops in on grouchy Uncle Ebenezer (Albert Finey) and downtrodden clerk Bob Cratchit (David Collings) in Leslie Bricusse's musical version of "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge, 1970.
Scrooge (1970) - I Hate People/Farver Christmas Two songs by Leslie Bricusse ("I Hate People" performed by Albert Finney and "Farver Christmas" by the ensemble) in this segment of Scrooge, the 1970 musical version of "A Christmas Carol."
Oliver Twist (1948) - Rather More No Than Yes The Dodger (Anthony Newley) is confronting criminal Fagin (Alec Guinness) when their boss Sykes (Robert Newton) arrives, his girlfriend Nancy (Kay Walsh, the director's wife!) catching up, all this over the title character who's been grabbed by the cops, in David Lean's Oliver Twist, 1948.
Oliver Twist (1948) - Do You Want Him? John Howard Davies (Charles Dickens' orphan title character) has just wandered into London, spied by young Anthony Newley as the Artful Dodger, then designer John Bryan and director David Lean with spectacle leading to the introduction of Fagin (Alec Guinness) in Oliver Twist, 1948.

Trailer

Family

Elwin Neame
Father
Photographer, director. Died in an automobile accident in 1923.
Ivy Close
Mother
Actor. Born in 1893; died in 1968; appeared in several British-produced films in the 1910s and 1920s.
Derek Neame
Brother
Screenwriter. Born in 1915; died in 1979.
Christopher Neame
Son
Screenwriter, producer, actor. Born in 1942.

Companions

Beryl Yolanda Heanly
Wife
Married on October 15, 1933.
Donna Neame
Wife

Bibliography

Notes

For several years, Neame has taught a course on filmmaking at UCLA.

In 1971, he began pre-production on a biopic "Isabella of Spain", but the project was cancelled before lensing.