Family & Companions
Knighted 1952 for services to British film industry
Reed began his film career in 1927 as an assistant to Edgar Wallace at British Lion films, supervising the adaptation of Wallace's works into film. After a spell as dialogue director and assistant director for Basil Dean, he had an early directing credit of his own with "Midshipman Easy/Men of the Sea" (1936).
Reed soon earned a reputation for his finely observed portrayals of working-class life, such as "Bank Holiday" (1938), "The Stars Look Down" (1939)--the film which established Reed as a major director--and "Kipps" (1941), adapted from the novel by H.G. Wells. He also earned attention for "Night Train to Munich" (1940), a wartime comedy-thriller which borrowed heavily--but creditably--from Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes." (Both films were written by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat.) These early features confirmed Reed as a capable craftsman with a sharp eye for detail, an unpretentious style and a knack for extracting fine performances from his actors.
During WWII, Reed worked as a director for the Army Kinematograph Service and directed the acclaimed propaganda feature, "The Way Ahead" (1944), starring David Niven. He also co-directed, with Garson Kanin, "The True Glory" (1945), an Oscar-winning documentary compiled from footage shot by Allied army cameramen.
Reed hit his peak in the post-war years with a string of features which remain landmarks in English film history. These began with "Odd Man Out" (1947), a superb hunt drama which follows a wounded Irish revolutionary (James Mason) through the final encounters of his life. The success of "Odd Man Out" led to a contract with Alexander Korda, for whom Reed made five films, beginning with "The Fallen Idol" (1948). A superbly crafted thriller which turns on a child's misconception of adult emotional entanglements, it was followed in 1949 by the director's acknowledged masterpiece, "The Third Man." Justly regarded as the finest of the many films to have been adapted from the works of Graham Greene, this atmospheric thriller made superb use of its postwar Viennese locations and featured fine performances from Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles.
After his excellent but unjustly neglected "An Outcast of the Islands" (1951), Reed found his critical reputation taking a somewhat downward turn in the 1950s and early 60s, when he turned out a number of more expensive, but less meticulously crafted productions such as the Hollywood-made "Trapeze" (1958) and "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965). His fortunes revived with "Oliver!" (1968), an exuberant musical version of Dickens's "Oliver Twist" which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Reed's first marriage (1943-47) was to the distinguished stage and screen actress Diana Wynyard; he married another actress, Penelope Dudley Ward, in 1948. He was knighted in 1952 for his services to the British film industry.
Director (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Production Companies (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Began film career, assisting Edgar Wallace at British Lion Films
Began directing his own films, beginning with the romance "It Happened in Paris" and the Napoleonic War-set drama "Midshipman Easy/Men of the Sea"
Directed Edmund Gwenn and Cedric Hardwicke in "Laburnum Grove"
Helmed the comedy "Who's Your Lady Friend?"; directed and co-scripted the forgettable melodrama "Talk of the Devil"
Won notice with "Bank Holiday", an ambitious episodic portrait of working class Britain
Helmed "The Stars Looked Down", a gripping tale of Welsh coalminers starring Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood
Directed Lockwood in "A Girl Must Live", a drama about a young woman who goes from a proper prep school to a chorus
Was the director of the suspense-filled drama "Night Train to Munich", starring Lockwood and Rex Harrison
Directed wife Diana Wynyard and Michael Redgrave in "Kipps", based on H.G. Wells' novel about a shopkeeper who rises above his social standing through an inheritance
Helmed the biopic "The Young Mr. Pitt", starring Robert Donat as the British Prime Minister elected at age 24
Won accclaim for his feature "Odd Man Out", an affecting drama about a rebel Irish leader (James Mason)
Produced and directed his seminal work, "The Third Man", a mystery starring Orson Welles, Trevor Howard and Joseph Cotten, based on the novel by Graham Greene
Helmed a harrowing adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "An Outcast of the Islands", set in the exotic jungles of Malaysia and starring Trevor Howard and Robert Morley
Knighted by King George VI
Directed "The Man Between", a post-World War II Berlin-set drama starring James Mason
Helmed "A Kid For Two Farthings", a fable about a young boy in London's Jewish ghetto who keeps a sickly goat with one horn as his magical unicorn
Directed Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida in "Trapeze"
Helmed "The Key", a World War II-set romantic drama starring William Holden and Sophia Loren
Directed second adaptation of a Graham Greene novel, the spy comedy "Our Man in Havana", starring Alec Guinness
Helmed the crime drama "The Running Man", starring Laurence Harvey as the titular fugitive who fakes his death in order to collect insurance money
Directed "The Agony and the Ecstasy", starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo conflicting with Rex Harrison's Pope Julius II over the Sistine Chapel
Helmed "Oliver!", a musical based on the Dickens classic "Oliver Twist"; won an Oscar for his work
Was director of "Flap", a comedic look at the plight of modern Native Americans
Directed last feature, "Follow Me"
"The Third Man" named best British film of all time by the British Film Institute
Knighted 1952 for services to British film industry