NEAME, RONALD (b. 1911). British director Ronald Neame, like John Guillermin* (The Towering Inferno ), enjoyed a spectacular commercial success with a Hollywood “blockbuster” (The Poseidon Adventure ) relatively late in his career, after working productively in the British industry for many years. Neame, the son of photographer (and film director) Elwin Neame and actress Ivy Close, joined Elstree Studios in 1927, moving up to the position of assistant cameraman on Alfred Hitchcock's* Blackmail* in 1929. He photographed many “quota quickies” in the 1930s before forming a close working relationship with David Lean* and they, together with producer Anthony Havelock-Allan, reworked Noel Coward's script for In Which We Serve* (1942). Neame also photographed this film and the same partnership (Neame, Lean, and Havelock-Allan) co-scripted an adaptation of Coward's play This Happy Breed (1944), which they developed into a successful propaganda effort celebrating middle-class English values in the twenty-year period up to 1939. Neame was also cinematographer on this, his first color film.
After photographing Blithe Spirit (1945), which was his last film as cinematographer, Neame, Lean, and Havelock-Allan broke away from Coward and formed their own independent company, Cineguild, under the Rank umbrella. Neame, like Guillermin, visited Hollywood to study the studio production methods. This experience influenced both the type of material and the form of his films after this point. Neame began directing with one of his best films, the taut thriller Take My Life* (1947), based on the activities of a female protagonist (Greta Gynt*) forced to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband's ex-girlfriend. Neame's next film, The Golden Salamander (1950), has none of the “noirish” aspects of his previous film as it is an adventure film with Trevor Howard* and Anouk Amiee fighting smugglers in Tunisia.
After the successful comedy The Card (1952), with Alec Guinness,* Neame directed Gregory Peck in The Million Pound Note (1953), based on Mark Twain's