Early life and career
He embarked on an acting career while still in his late teens. A period in the theatrical company of the thriller writer Edgar Wallace
followed, and Reed became his personal assistant in 1927.
Apart from acting in a few Wallace derived films himself, Reed became involved in adapting his work for the screen during the day while he was a stage manager in the evenings. This connection ended when Wallace died in February 1932. Taken on by Basil Dean
, Reed worked for his Associated Talking Pictures
, successively for ATP as a dialogue director, second-unit director and then assistant director.
His films in the later role working under Dean were Autumn Crocus
, Lorna Doone
and (with Thorold Dickinson
) Java Head
His earliest films as director were "quota quickies
Of his experience making Midshipman Easy
(1935) his first solo directorial project he was harsh on himself. "I was indefinite and indecisive", he said later. "I thought I had picked up a lot about cutting and camera angles, but now, when I had to make all the decisions myself and was not just mentally approving or criticising what somebody else decided, I was pretty much lost. Fortunately, I realised that this was the only way to learn – by making mistakes." Graham Greene
, then reviewing films for The Spectator
, was much more forgiving, commenting that Reed "has more sense of the cinema than most veteran British directors".
Of Reed's comedy Laburnum Grove
(1936), he wrote: "Here at last is an English film one can unreservedly praise". He was perceptive about Reed's potential, describing the film as "thoroughly workmanlike and unpretentious, with just the hint of a personal manner which makes one believe that Mr. Reed, when he gets the right script, will prove far more than efficient."
Reed's career began to develop with The Stars Look Down
(1940), from the A. J. Cronin
novel, which features Michael Redgrave
in the lead role. Greene wrote that Reed "has at last had his chance and magnificently taken it." He observed that "one forgets the casting altogether: he [Reed] handles his players like a master, so that one remembers them only as people."
From 1942, Reed served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps
: he was granted the rank of Captain and placed with the film unit, and then with the Directorate of Army Psychiatry.
For the latter body a training film, The New Lot
(1943), was made, recounting the experiences of five new recruits. It had a script by Eric Ambler
and Peter Ustinov
, with contributions from Reed, and was produced by Thorold Dickinson
. It was remade as The Way Ahead
Reed made his three most highly regarded films just after the war, beginning with Odd Man Out
(1947), with James Mason
in the lead. It is the tale of an injured IRA leader's last hours in an unidentified Northern Irish city. In fact, Belfast
was used for the location work, but it remains unnamed in the film.
The Third Man
was co-produced by David O. Selznick
and Korda, with the American actors Orson Welles
and Joseph Cotten
in two of the leading roles. Reed insisted on casting Welles as Harry Lime, although Selznick had wanted Noël Coward
for the role. The film required six weeks of location work in Vienna
, during which time it was Reed himself who accidentally discovered Anton Karas
, the zither player responsible for the film's music, in a courtyard outside a small Viennese restaurant.
Reed once said: "A picture should end as it has to. I don’t think anything in life ends 'right'". While Greene wanted Holly Martins (Cotten) and Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli
) to reconcile at the end of the film, after Lime, her lover, is killed by Martins, Reed insisted that Anna should ignore him and walk on. "The whole point of the Valli character in that film is that she’d experienced a fatal love – and then comes along this silly American!"
Outcast of the Islands
(1952), based on a novel by Joseph Conrad
, is considered by some to mark the start of his creative decline. The Man Between
(1953) is dismissed as a rehash of The Third Man
It "makes no startling impact, such as we have learned to expect from its director, on either the mind or the heart", complained Virginia Graham in The Spectator
While the fable A Kid for Two Farthings
(1955), Reed's first colour film, set in the East End of London
, has been claimed as one of very few authentic cinematic depictions of an Anglo-Jewish community,
it suffers from the stereotyping of Jews
and is no more than a "whimsical curiosity" according to Michael Brooke.
It was the last film Reed made for Korda's London Films
; the producer died at the beginning of 1956.
He was contracted to direct a remake of Mutiny on the Bounty
(1962) by MGM
, but then Marlon Brando
was cast as Fletcher Christian
, and problems with the mock Bounty
and the weather at the locations caused delays.
Brando had insisted on creative control,
and the two men argued incessantly. Reed left at a relatively early stage of production and was replaced by Lewis Milestone
. The Agony and the Ecstasy
(1965), made in the United States, was a box-office failure, and was the last film over which Reed also served as producer. Oliver!
(1968), made at Shepperton
, was financially backed by Columbia
, and won the Academy Award for Best Director
. "The movie may have been over-produced but it seemed everyone liked it that way", writes Thomas Hischak.
In 1952, he became only the second British film director
to be knighted for his craft. The first was Sir Alexander Korda
in 1942, who was the producer of some of Reed's most admired films.
- ^ a b Malcolm, Derek (16 March 2000). "Carol Reed: The Third Man". The Guardian. Carol Reed directed films for 40 years, but his golden period was brief. It covered three years in the late '40s when he made Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol and The Third Man. These three films alone put him in the forefront of British directors of the period, and the last-named, his second collaboration with Graham Greene, is probably the best film noir ever made out of Britain.
- ^ Roman Polanski: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi, 2005. ISBN 978-1-57806-800-5. Pages 159, 189.
- ^ a b Philip Kemp "Reed, Carol (1906-1976)", Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Director, reprinted at BFI Screenonline. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has Wandsworth, London as Reed's place of birth.
- ^ http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/12th-may-1979/19/mummer-and-daddy
- ^ "The Stars Look Down - Movie info: cast, reviews, trailer on". Mubi.com. 22 February 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- ^ a b Trevor Hogg "A Great Reed: A Carol Reed Profile (Part 1)", Flickering Myth, 21 October 2009
- ^ a b Freehan, Deirdre (15 December 2010). "Carol Reed". Senses of Cinema.
- ^ Graham Greene "Stage And Screen: The Cinema", The Spectator, 3 January 1936, p.18
- ^ Graham Greene "Stage And Screen: The Cinema", The Spectator, 30 July 1936, p.15
- ^ Graham Greene "Stage and Screen: The Cinema", The Spectator, 26 January 1940, p.16
- ^ Peter William Evans Carol Reed, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005, p.53
- ^ a b c Trevor Hogg "A Great Reed: A Carol Reed Profile (Part 2)", Flickering Myths, 28 October 2009
- ^ David Thomson seems to think that in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, London: Little Brown, 2002, p.721, but ascribes this view to others in Have You Seen, London: Allen Lane, 2008, p.632
- ^ Virginia Graham "Cinema", The Spectator, 24 September 1953, p.13
- ^ a b Michael Brooke "Kid for Two Farthings, A (1955)", BFI Screenonline
- ^ Matthew Reisz "EastEnders - but not as we know it", The Guardian, 15 September 2006
- ^ Cliff Goodwin Behaving Badly: Richard Harris, Random House, 2011, p.91
- ^ David Thomson Have You Seen?, London: Allen Lane, 2008, p.585
- ^ Robert Sellers Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, Random House, 2010, p.34
- ^ Thomas Hischak The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film and Television, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, p.547
- ^ Tracy Reed at IMDb
- ^ Spicer, Andrew (2006). Sydney Box. British Film Makers. Manchester University Press. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-7190-5999-5. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- ^ "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- ^ "Carol Reed, Filmography". IMDb. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
- ^ "Carol Reed, Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
Last edited on 18 April 2021, at 18:42
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