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Ronald Neame Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (3)

Born in London, England, UK
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications from a fall)
Nickname Ronnie

Mini Bio (1)

A British filmmaker who, over the years, worked as assistant director, cinematographer, producer, writer and ultimately director, Ronald Neame was born on April 23, 1911. His father, Elwin Neame, was a film director and his mother, Ivy Close, was a film star. During the 1920s, he started working at famous Elstree Studios. One of his first jobs was assistant cameraman for Alfred Hitchcock on Blackmail (1929), the first talking picture made in England.

Neame became a cinematographer during the 1930s. In 1942, he and sound designer C.C. Stevens received a special effect Oscar nomination for One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942), a film by the Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger team. In 1944, after working together on In Which We Serve (1942), Neame, David Lean and producer Anthony Havelock-Allan formed a production company, Cineguild. The screenplays for its films Brief Encounter (1945) and Great Expectations (1946) received best writing Oscar nominations.

After a fall-out with Lean and the demise of Cineguild in 1947, Neame turned to directing with Take My Life (1947). As a director, he would be quite versatile, touching genres like comedy (The Promoter (1952), Hopscotch (1980)), psychological studies (The Chalk Garden (1964)), musical (Scrooge (1970)), thriller (The Odessa File (1974)) and even disaster movies (The Poseidon Adventure (1972), the one that started the trend, produced by Irwin Allen). Under Neame's guidance, Alec Guinness won the best actor trophee at the 1958 Venice festival for The Horse's Mouth (1958), a comedy based on a book adapted by Guinness himself. Two years later, John Mills received the same award for Tunes of Glory (1960), also directed by Neame. In 1969, Maggie Smith got her first Oscar for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) under Neame's direction, and in 1970, Albert Finney got his first Golden Globe for his role in Neame's "Scrooge".

In 1996, Neane was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for his contributions to the film industry. In 2003, he published his autobiography, "Straight from the Horse's Mouth". Keeping up the family tradition, his son Christopher Neame is a movie producer and his grandson, Gareth Neame, works for the BBC. Ronald Neame died at age 99 of complications from a fall on June 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: François Leclair

Spouse (2)

Donna Bernice Friedberg (12 September 1993 - 16 June 2010) (his death)
Beryl Yolanda Heanly (15 October 1932 - 1992) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (18)

Educated at the University College School and Hurstpierpoint College.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to the film industry.
He represented the second of four generations in the genre of cinema and television. He was the elder son of the photographer Elwin Neame and the actress Ivy Close. His brother Derek Neame scripted several films. He led a distinguished career as a cinematographer, screenwriter, producer and director. His son Christopher Neame and grandson Gareth Neame have carved successful careers as producers.
Financial difficulties arose for the family after the death of his father, Elwin Neame, in 1923. As a result, he was forced to leave public school to look for a job. He found one at the newly opened Elstree Studios. This started him on his way to being a film director.
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1962.
Former father-in-law of Caroline Langley.
Father-in-law of Sally-ann Neame.
He is survived by his grandson, Gareth Neame, of London, England; son Christopher Neame of Avignon, France; and his wife, Donna Friedberg.
In 2003, the British Film Institute called him "a living embodiment" of cinema, and "a sort of one-man world heritage site".
Directed Gordon Jackson three times.
Directed three actresses to Oscar nominations: Edith Evans (Best Supporting Actress, The Chalk Garden (1964)), Maggie Smith (Best Actress, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)), and Shelley Winters (Best Supporting Actress, The Poseidon Adventure (1972)). Smith won an Academy Award for her performance.
Release of his autobiography, "Straight from the Horse's Mouth". [2003]
Neame's father, Edwin Neame, was himself a director and cinematographer of beautiful silent screen actress Ivy Close, who eventually married the senior Neame.
Father of Christopher Neame.
Neame's first big break came on "Major Barbara"Z when producer Gabriel Pascal quarreled with cinematographer Freddie Young, who was replaced by Neame, who had made some very successful tests with star Wendy Hiller.
When Neame's boss, Claude Friese-Greene, collapsed on the set in an alcoholic stupor, young assistant cameraman Neame finished the picture, a quota quickie entitled "Drake of England," as well as the next scheduled title, "Invitation to the Waltz".
After Neame was fired from "The Seventh Sin" and replaced with Vincente Minelli, he received a sympathetic call from George Cukor, assuring him he would bounce back.
Son of Elwin Neame and Ivy Close.

Personal Quotes (9)

[on David Lean] "If he heard his best friend was dying while he was on the set, I doubt if he'd take it in. Once he's started a film, there's really nothing else in his life."
[on working with Judy Garland in I Could Go on Singing (1963)] Suddenly, Judy had become the real Judy. It was no longer acting and it was absolutely wonderful.
[About his working relationship with J. Arthur Rank] I always remember him as a rather big man, but that may be because I was a very slim, young man at the time. He wasn't fat. I remember a mustache, a good-natured face. You know when you met him that this was a good man. And so we started to choose subjects, prepare scripts, and knew that we had a lovely studio to shoot them in. And we knew nobody was going to say, "This won't go in America," or "This doesn't seem too good," or "This costs too much." None of that. We didn't make films with an American market in mind, which quite frankly would have been fatal. Even today I think that if Britain tries to make a film that will go well in America, it's a mistake. They are making films in England, and they should make the film they believe in.
[About the early 40s] At that time everybody was asking why it was that America could shoot 20 setups a day and in England we seemed to only manage about nine? It was partly union problems - too many cups of tea in the afternoon - but it was also equipment. We were very, very short of cameras.
[About Alexander Korda] I once had a meeting with him. I remember thinking, Korda can make you think black is white, or white is black that he would say at a meeting, "Well, you see, black is white, Ronnie." And you'd say, "Yes, yes." And then halfway up Brook Street after you'd left, you'd say, "Well, no. That's not so. Black isn't white."
David Lean and I are fighting a rear guard action. We want movies to return to greatness. If that's being old-fashioned, then I stand condemned.
I consider myself a good craftsman. I know my job. I was brought up in a school to make films a certain way. The most important thing you learn as a director is not to direct too much. You must force the audience to work too.
I was never comfortable in the limelight. I am the first to admit some of my recent films have been among my weakest, but that is the fault of changes in the industry. It wasn't in my temperament to retire as David Lean did for such a lengthy period. I remain the determined optimist, hopeful that my brand of small, character study portraits will eventually come back into favor.
[on British quota quickies] Many were made in a week... one take for each scene. The cinemas ran them in the mornings to fulfill the requirement. What killed them off? Well, the Dominions started making them even cheaper, and the government simply gave up.

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