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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Kew, Surrey, England, UK
Died  (cancer)
Birth NameJohn Frederick Huntley

Mini Bio (1)

John Huntley was born in Kew, Surrey in 1921. He left school in 1937 with five 'O' levels, and began his first job as a junior clerk in an insurance company - The Employers Liability Assurance Corporation. He remained there for two years until, in 1939, he was given a job as a tea-boy at Denham studios, under Alexander Korda. John had always enjoyed films, often going to the cinema two or three times a week, sometimes to see the same programme, but when the outbreak of war caused the larger part of Denham to be closed down, his contract ended after only eighteen months, and it almost seemed that his opportunity to work in the industry had disappeared In 1940, John joined the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator / mechanic for the RAF Army co-operative Command. Later, in 1943, he joined Bomber Command as a wireless air-gunner, then in 1944 he moved on to Coastal Command. It was here, however, that he found the chance to further his interest in movies, as he started to work as a lecturer and camp projectionist, showing educational films. He also put on entertainment programmes, and travelled around showing these at different camp cinemas. John also began to write for the RAF journals, which included the occasional film review. He started to write for various periodicals, including Sight and Sound and later wrote for the Penguin Film Reviews. In 1944 he began work with the American Film Music Bulletin as their British correspondent, and continued writing for them until 1950. It was also during these years that he began writing his first book, British Film Music which was later published in 1947. Following the end of the war, John was offered a position with the J. Arthur Rank Organisation at the re-established Denham and Pinewood Studios. He worked as a music and sound technician with Muir Mathieson, who had realised John's enthusiasm for film music through his writing and publications. He worked on many famous movies such as Hamlet (1948), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), 'David Lean' 's Oliver Twist (1948), and The Red Shoes (1948) among others. With access to the other departments at the studios, John's interest in film developed further as he wrote his second book - British Technicolor Films - published in 1949. Unfortunately, however, with the collapse of the Rank organisation in 1950, the music department was disbanded, and the employees went their separate ways. In 1951, John worked as part of the technical team - Telekinema - who organised the film contribution for the Festival of Britain. Telekinema became the original National Film Theatre, and John worked as a Programme Director for two years. During that time, one notable project was the revival of 'Buster Keaton' 's career in Britain. A contact from Cinematheque Francais saw him performing in a Paris circus, and having found copies of The Navigator (1924) and The General (1926) in the French archives, he was brought over with his movies, and re-introduced to the British public. John's association with the British Film Institute came in 1952, through his work with the NFT. During the twenty-three years that he was there he worked in many positions, beginning as Programming Officer. He continued to present large scale film shows and festivals at venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and The Barbican, on topics ranging from transport to ballet. From 1966 he was involved in opening regional film theatres, and when he left in 1974, John was the Head of the Regional Unit of the BFI, and thirty-five theatres had been opened throughout the country. During this time, John continued contributing to various journals and publications and wrote a further three books: The Technique of Film Music (with Roger Manvell), Railways in the Cinema and How Films are made (with Stanley Reed). He also became very involved with the broadcasting world, producing and presenting many television programmes, including Clapperboard (co-presented with 'Chris Kelly (VI)', directed by Graham Murray) for Granada, Bygones and Bioscope Bygones for Anglia and Attic Archives for the BBC. He also began a long association with the world of radio, speaking as an expert on various aspects of film and conducting interviews. When he left the BFI in 1974, John worked as a theatrical agent with Richard Jackson Personnel Management. He continued to present film shows, and to add to his collection of movies, primarily on the subject of transport, but then growing to encompass all topics and periods. In 1985, he and his daughter Amanda decided to set up Huntley Film Archives, and so the company as it is today was first established. The Archive continues to grow, and moved to its current premises in 1994. Although heavily involved with the day to day running of the Archive, John still finds time to make radio and television broadcasts and appearances, such as Much Ado About Shakespeare and The History of British Film Studios for Radio Four, a film star series for Radio Two and The Train Now Departing. He also recently featured in the BBC's Leisure Hour. He has researched, written and presented numerous videos on the history of transport. John updated Railways in the Cinema, and Railways on the Screen, which includes listings of steam on television, was published in 1993.

Recent Television credits : "Reeltime" BBC Wales. Radio credits: Radio Four "Back Row" BBC Radio Four, "The Ealing Years"

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sarah King/sarah@huntleyarchives.com

Trivia (2)

Father of Amanda Huntley.
Co-founder of Huntley Film Archives.

See also

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