Lindsay Anderson


Director
Lindsay Anderson

About

Also Known As
Lindsay Gordon Anderson
Birth Place
Bangalore, Karnataka, IN
Born
April 17, 1923
Died
August 30, 1994
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

"If you truly love human beings, you have to be able to be angry with them," Lindsay Anderson once said. An angry idealist and cerebral iconoclast, he implied--at least in his early feature film work--that the first step toward redeeming a corrupt system of values lies in contemplating its destruction.Anderson served in WWII in a British Army Rifles unit and the Intelligence Corps. While...

Bibliography

"Mainly About Lindsay Anderson"
Gavin Lambert, Alfred A. Knopf (2000)
"John Ford"
Lindsay Anderson (1971)
"Making of a Film"
Lindsay Anderson (1952)

Notes

Bob Baker, of the British film journal Film Dope characterized Anderson as follows: "John Ford meets George Orwell."

"I'm not, unfortunately, a good careerist, and I'm not proud of that. It's just that to be a director today, you have to do so much more than actually direct. My problem is I don't speak the Hollywood language. I just don't." --Lindsay Anderson, in a 1987 Variety interview, quoted in his obituary in the September 1, 1994 issue of that industry trade.

Biography

"If you truly love human beings, you have to be able to be angry with them," Lindsay Anderson once said. An angry idealist and cerebral iconoclast, he implied--at least in his early feature film work--that the first step toward redeeming a corrupt system of values lies in contemplating its destruction.

Anderson served in WWII in a British Army Rifles unit and the Intelligence Corps. While a student at Oxford, he edited SEQUENCE, an influential film magazine, along with writer Gavin Lambert and future directors Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz. Like its fellow French journal, CAHIERS DU CINEMA, SEQUENCE favored Hollywood film, the new postwar realism and the avant-garde, and dismissed its homeland's national cinema as static and choked by empty "prestige" product. Anderson's own most important discovery during this time was the works of John Ford, which influenced his early affinity for the poetic aspects of cinema.

Anderson began his film career in 1948, making documentaries for industrialist Richard Sutcliffe. He continued to work in the nonfiction field through the 1950s, displaying a clear-eyed flair for visual detail and a sympathetic, even lyrically humanistic manner of gently stylizing the vignettes which make up these films. One of Anderson's earliest films to display his deeply personal approach to filmmaking was "Wakefield Express" (1952), a study of a newspaper. He won an Oscar for co-directing (with Guy Brenton) another short, "Thursday's Children" (1953), an exceptionally delicate, intimate look, doubtless influenced by Alexander Mackendrick's fictional "Mandy" (1952), of the efforts of deaf children to learn to communicate.

"Every Day Except Christmas" (1957), meanwhile, an affectionate tribute to the merchants of Covent Garden, displayed Anderson's sympathy for the proletariat, while "O Dreamland" (1953) even more tellingly pointed toward his later work as it savagely lampooned both the tawdry purveyors of amusement park diversion and their mindless, passive customers. In these films and in his writings, Anderson promoted the influential Free Cinema movement, which explored the universal significance of mundane events and the relationship of art to working-class experience.

In 1957 Anderson became a director at the Royal Court Theatre; his work there and at other venues embraced Shakespeare and Chekhov as well as contemporary playwrights, most notably David Storey, with whom he would collaborate regularly over the next 35 years, staging such Storey plays as "In Celebration" (1969), "Home" (1971) and "Stages" (1992). Anderson's first feature, "This Sporting Life" (1963), was adapted by Storey from his novel about a troubled rugby star and coal miner and brought Richard Harris, a suitably rebellious Anderson hero, to stardom. An extension of Anderson's documentarian concerns, the film was also important in the evolution of Free Cinema into the fiction-based "Angry Young Man" school of British "Kitchen Sink" realism.

"If..." (1968), Anderson's most important film, marked a fierce revisionist departure. In this icy ode to rites of passage, deliberately modeled on Jean Vigo's landmark filmic call for anarchy, "Zero de Conduite" (1933), Anderson painted a scathing portrait of the English private school system, using it as a thinly disguised metaphor for society as a whole. The film was the first of a trilogy ("O Lucky Man!" 1973, "Britannia Hospital" 1982) featuring the character of Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), who cavorts and lurches through a modern England characterized by absurdity and decay. The often bitterly hilarious "O Lucky Man!" led Travis into a series of encounters with the military and medical establishments, the industrial hierarchy and, finally, the media--in the shape of a director (played by Lindsay Anderson) looking for a star for the film we have just been watching. "Brittania Hospital" was a nightmarishly comic indictment of the British medical system of the 1980s, whose decay is again representative of society as a whole.

In 1981 Anderson completed a well-received documentary study, "About John Ford," and that same year played a very funny cameo role as a schoolmaster in "Chariots of Fire." "The Whales of August" (1987), his last feature, was an elegy to old age that paired legendary actresses Lillian Gish and Bette Davis as housebound sisters on the Maine coast. Though touching and well-played, it displayed neither the lyrical realism of his early career nor the abrasive satire of his later films. His last major work, "Glory! Glory!" (1989), a made-for-HBO TV-movie, sent up the televangelist phenomenon in more typical, unreserved Anderson style. But the director's iconoclasm in his later years seemed to yield to an awareness of the intractability of the problems he once railed against and, via frequent work doing voice-overs for documentaries, seemed to take comfort in a nostalgia for the history of cinema.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Is That All There Is? (1995)
Director
The Whales of August (1987)
Director
Wish You Were There (1985)
Director
Britannia Hospital (1983)
Director
In Celebration (1975)
Director
O Lucky Man! (1973)
Director
If.... (1969)
Director
This Sporting Life (1963)
Director
Henry (1955)
Director
Foot and Mouth (1955)
Director
O Dreamland (1953)
Director
Thursday's Children (1953)
Director
Three Installations (1952)
Director
Wakefield Express (1952)
Director
Idlers That Work (1949)
Director
Meet the Pioneers (1948)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Is That All There Is? (1995)
Himself
Lucky Man (1994)
Himself
Blame It on the Bellboy (1992)
Mr Marshall
Prisoner of Honor (1991)
Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1989)
Narrator
CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)
O Lucky Man! (1973)
75 Years of Cinema Museum (1972)
Narrator
Martyrs of Love (1968)
Himself
Inadmissible Evidence (1968)
Barrister
Three Installations (1952)
Commentary
Idlers That Work (1949)
Commentary
Meet the Pioneers (1948)
Commentary

Writer (Feature Film)

Is That All There Is? (1995)
Screenplay
Thursday's Children (1953)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

O Lucky Man! (1973)
Producer
If.... (1969)
Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Meet the Pioneers (1948)
Editor

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

The Shop on Main Street (1966)
English subtitl

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Hi-Lo Country (1998)
Other
Nighthawks (1978)
Other

Cast (Special)

John Ford (1993)
The Arts and Glasnost (1988)
Narration ("Cinema")

Writer (Special)

John Ford (1993)
Writer

Special Thanks (Special)

John Ford (1993)
Writer

Director (Short)

Every Day Except Christmas (1957)
Director
The Children Upstairs (1955)
Director
A Hundred Thousand Children (1955)
Director
Green and Pleasant Land (1955)
Director
Trunk Conveyor (1954)
Director

Cast (Short)

Trunk Conveyor (1954)
Commentary

Writer (Short)

Every Day Except Christmas (1957)
Screenplay

Life Events

1925

Moved to England from India at age two

1943

Served as an army officer with the King's Royal Rifle Corps and later with the Army Intelligence Corps during WWII; military experience ended with a year in India working as a cryptographer

1945

Along with a number of his fellow army officers, raised a red flag over the roof of their camp's mess when a Labour government was elected in Britain

1946

Claimed that he received his "first real creative shock in the cinema" when he first saw John Ford's "My Darling Clementine"

1948

Made first short documentary, "Meet the Pioneers" (also narrator, writer and co-editor)

1952

Made "Wakefield Express" and "Three Installations", the first two of nine documentary collaborations over the next several years with cinematographer Walter Lassally

1952

Produced and acted in James Broughton's experimental medium-length film, "The Pleasure Garden"

1952

Published "Making of a Film" about Thorold Dickinson's production of "Secret People" (1952)

1955

Began directing occasional TV commercials, a kind of work he would intermittently return to over the years (date approximate)

1957

London stage directing debut, "The Waiting of Lester Abbs", Royal Court Theatre, London

1963

Feature film directing debut, "This Sporting Life"; also marked early collaboration with novelist and playwright David Storey, who wrote the screenplay based on his novel

1965

Stage acting debut in "Miniature" at the Royal Court Theatre, London

1967

Directed two short films, "The White Bus" and "Raz Dwz Trzy--The Singing Lesson/"One, Two, Three--The Singing Lesson", the latter made in Poland

1968

Feature producing debut, "If...", Which he co-produced with Michael Medwin and also directed

1968

Made feature-length film acting debut, as a barrister in "Inadmissible Evidence"

1969

Earliest acting for TV included a role on "The Parachute"

1969

First theatrical premiere staged in collaboration with playwright David Storey, "In Celebration"

1971

Directed David Storey's play, "Home", on Broadway, with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in the leading roles; received Tony nomination as Best Director of a Dramatic Play

1972

Narrated the documentary, "75 Years of Cinema Museum", directed by Eila Hershon and Roberto Guerra

1978

Received credit for "collaboration" on the independently-made feature film, "Nighthawks", about a gay male schoolteacher

1985

Directed a production of "Hamlet" in Washington DC, restaging and revising a production of the play he had done in London four years earlier

1985

Made a documentary film of a tour of China by the British pop group Wham!, "Wish You Were There/Foreign Skies"

1987

Directed last feature film, "The Whales of August"

1989

American TV directorial debut, "Glory! Glory!", A satirical miniseries made for HBO

1991

Played the role of the war minister in the made-for-HBO TV-movie, "Prisoner of Honor"

1992

Last theatrical premiere of work written by David Storey, "Stages"

1992

Last feature film acting appearance, "Blame It on the Bellboy"

1994

Was one of five filmmakers asked by the BBC to make semi-autobiographical films for a series, "The Director's Place"; Anderson's segment scheduled to open the series 9/17/94

Videos

Movie Clip

Whales Of August, The (1987) - You Didn't Answer Me Continuing their leisurely day on the Maine coastal islands (shot on Cliff Island) ca. 1954, older sister Sarah (Lillian Gish) and blind younger sister Libby (Bette Davis) share memories and ideas, in director Lindsay Anderson’s The Whales Of August, 1987.
Chariots Of Fire (1981) - The College Dash Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams and Nigel Havers as the fictional Lindsay attempt the famous Great Court Run, shooting at Eton College, Cambridge, though the true location is Trinity College, and the real Abrahams never tried it, in Chariots Of Fire, 1981, John Gielgud, observing.
O Lucky Man! (1973) -- Original Trailer Original trailer, featuring two songs from Alan Price's much-praised original soundtrack, from O Lucky Man!, 1973, directed by Lindsay Anderson, co-written by star Malcolm McDowell, featuring Helen Mirren.
This Sporting Life (1963) - Just A Bit Dazed Director Lindsay Anderson’s opening, Richard Harris, himself a formidable player in his college years, in an English rugby match, getting thumped, initiating flashbacks to his days as a miner, and his emotional involvement with his landlady Rachel Roberts, in This Sporting Life, 1963.
This Sporting Life (1963) - You Want A Thumping, Love? In a flashback, Richard Harris is Frank, a coal miner, whom we know soon becomes a star rugby player, denied entrance to a night club, bashing his way in when the rugby team arrives, picking a fight with colleague Len (Jack Watson), Colin Blakely as Maurice, in This Sporting Life, 1963.
This Sporting Life (1963) - It's A Rough Game Frank (Richard Harris) has won a spot on the local rugby team (director Lindsay Anderson shooting at Belle Vue, Wakefield, West Yorkshire), thinking of his landlady (Rachel Roberts) and impressing the owner (Alan Badel), William Hartnell a scout who recruited him, in This Sporting Life, 1963.

Trailer

Family

Alexander Vass Anderson
Father
Career military officer. Attained the rank of major-general; of Scottish descent; served in the army in India, as had his father before him; divorced from Lindsay Anderson's mother when the boy was ten.
Estelle Bell Anderson
Mother
Daughter of a prosperous wool merchant; born in Queenstown, South Africa; remarried after her divorce from Alexander Vass Anderson.
Murray Anderson
Brother
Survived him.
Sandy Anderson
Nephew
Survived him.

Bibliography

"Mainly About Lindsay Anderson"
Gavin Lambert, Alfred A. Knopf (2000)
"John Ford"
Lindsay Anderson (1971)
"Making of a Film"
Lindsay Anderson (1952)

Notes

Bob Baker, of the British film journal Film Dope characterized Anderson as follows: "John Ford meets George Orwell."

"I'm not, unfortunately, a good careerist, and I'm not proud of that. It's just that to be a director today, you have to do so much more than actually direct. My problem is I don't speak the Hollywood language. I just don't." --Lindsay Anderson, in a 1987 Variety interview, quoted in his obituary in the September 1, 1994 issue of that industry trade.