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Alexander Mackendrick Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (6)  | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (3)

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Nickname Sandy

Mini Bio (1)

One of the most distinguished (if frequently overlooked) directors ever to emerge from the British film industry, Alexander Mackendrick, was in fact born in the US (to Scottish parents), but grew up in his native Scotland, where he studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He started out as a commercial illustrator, and his first film endeavors were in animation (for advertising films) but he soon found himself attracted by live-action, shooting numerous short documentaries and writing screenplays throughout the 1940s. He made his feature debut in 1948 with the Ealing comedy classic Whisky Galore (1949), set in his native Scotland, and more than half his total feature output would be for the studio including such masterpieces as The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955) -- comedies with a rather darker, more satirical edge to them than the rather cosy and parochial British comedy more typical of the era. His first Hollywood film pushed this style to its limit in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), a vicious, no-holds-barred portrait of the world of ruthless New York gossip columnists. Although now acclaimed as one of the great American films, and a career high-point for Mackendrick, stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis and cinematographer James Wong Howe, it was a critical and box-office disaster that, sadly, ensured that Mackendrick would never again scale such heights. After just three more films, he was offered an academic job as the Dean of the Film Department of the California Institute of the Arts, which he accepted and held from 1969 until shortly before his death.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Spouse (2)

Hilary Mackendrick (24 December 1948 - 22 December 1993) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Eileen Ashcroft (24 March 1934 - 1943) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (6)

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 626-630. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Cousin of Roger MacDougall.
In 1969 he became Dean of the Film Department at the California Institute for the Arts. He stayed there for several years, then began teaching and did that until his death in 1993.
Prior to entering the film business, Mackendrick worked as an art director at a London advertising agency. One of the animators who worked with him was future producer/director George Pal.
Began directing both The Devil's Disciple (1959) and The Guns of Navarone (1961), but was fired from both after disagreements with their producers. He was replaced by Guy Hamilton and J. Lee Thompson, respectively.
Although he was replaced as director of The Devil's Disciple (1959), it has been claimed that all of Laurence Olivier's scenes in the film were directed by him.

Personal Quotes (8)

Nationality is a very curious thing. The blood is Scots and the temperament is Scots, but I am in fact 100% American.
The best way to learn how to work with actors is to have had experience of trying to act yourself--it will teach you humility if nothing else.
There's a moment towards the end of certain kinds of comedy when they ought to get a little nasty.
Children are often better actors than adults, because they have a greater capacity for believing in a situation.
Sometimes hysteria in production problems can be communicated successfully as energy up on the screen.
Movies are an incidental byproduct of deals.
The great directors managed to dissolve and disappear into the work. They make other people look good.
[on Whisky Galore (1949)] It looks like a home-movie; it doesn't look as if it was made by a professional at all. And it wasn't.

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