Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

RONALD NEAME

Ronald Neame is one of the last surviving members of the British film industry during what he himself terms its “golden years.” An intimate of Alfred Hitchcock, J. Arthur Rank, Noel Coward, David Lean, and numerous other luminaries, Neame began his career as a camera assistant in 1933. He photographed some of the most memorable classics of the British cinema, including Gabriel Pascal's Major Barbara (1941), Noel Coward and David Lean's In Which We Serve (1942), and David Lean's Blithe Spirit (1945), before moving on as a producer of Lean's Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), and Oliver Twist (1948). Finally, he created a third career for himself as a director on such superb films as The Horse's Mouth (1958), Tunes of Glory (1960), and I Could Go on Singing (1963), although the film that remains (somewhat to his dismay) his most resounding commercial success is The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Speaking from his house in Los Angeles, Neame was candid and nostalgic as he remembered working with Coward, Lean, and other of his late compatriots, and simultaneously shrewd in his assessment of the current state of the British and American film industry This interview took place on January 29, 2004.

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON: Tell me a little about your early life and how you got involved in the industry.

RONALD NEAME: I was born on April 23, 1911, in London. My mother and father, of course, were very involved in film. My father was the photographer Elwin Neame, who was very famous in his day, and my mother was the actress Ivy Close. My brother Derek scripted several films, but he had a rather rough life, to say the least. He was an unhappy character, I'm afraid.

WWD: How did your father and mother meet?

RN: Well, you see, the Daily Mirror ran a world beauty competition. There'd never been anything like it before; it was designed to find the most beautiful

-3-

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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