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Roome, Alfred (1908-1997)


Main image of Roome, Alfred (1908-1997)

One of twelve apprentices taken on straight from school in 1927 by Herbert Wilcox and J. D. Williams, Alfred Roome began as an assistant in the property department and cutting rooms. Moving from Wilcox's British and Dominions studio to British International Pictures, he worked as second camera assistant to Jack Cox on films directed by Alfred Hitchcock including The Ring (1927) and Blackmail (1929). At British International Pictures, Roome was also one of director E. A. Dupont's assistant editors. He noted that the German director edited his films himself.

Returning to Wilcox at the British and Dominions studio, Roome's first full editing credit was for the Tom Walls Aldwych farce Thark (1932). He continued this association, working closely with the writer Ben Travers, when Walls' production unit moved to Gaumont-British and Gainsborough.

Roome's growing reputation as a comedy specialist led to work on some of the cycle of Will Hay, Crazy Gang and Arthur Askey films produced at Gainsborough during the mid- to late 1930s. As Roome became a more senior figure during the 1940s he was often asked to come onto the studio floor to support new directors. He co-directed two films and progressed to associate producer status. Subsequently employed by Rank at Pinewood in the 1950s and 60s, Roome felt the films produced there were frequently quite poor but "as technicians, we were quite happy because it kept us in work". Roome often worked with directors Ken Annakin and Ralph Thomas during this period. He respected producer Betty Box's efficiency and commercial acumen, but sometimes challenged director Muriel Box, for whom he edited To Dorothy a Son (1954), because he felt the real power rested with her husband Sydney.

Roome brought all his comedy experience to bear when in the late 1960s and early 70s he edited fourteen Carry On films. He knew, for example, that experienced performers like Sid James and Kenneth Williams could spoil someone else's line but gain an extra laugh "by either making a remark or making some facial expression, which, if put in the right place, made the line entirely different". The overall approach with regard to pacing these films was "just carry straight on... if there's three gags or three laughs and [the audience] miss two of them, but get one, that's good enough".

Roy Perkins/Martin Stollery, British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie (BFI Publishing, 2004)

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Thumbnail image of Ask A Policeman (1939)Ask A Policeman (1939)

A policeman is forced to commit crimes to avoid the sack

Thumbnail image of Boys Will Be Boys (1935)Boys Will Be Boys (1935)

Will Hay brings his much-loved schoolmaster act to the screen

Thumbnail image of Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)

Comedy about union unrest at the W.C. Boggs toilet factory

Thumbnail image of Carry On Camping (1969)Carry On Camping (1969)

Comedy in which various deluded people go on a camping holiday

Thumbnail image of Carry On Doctor (1968)Carry On Doctor (1968)

Frankie Howerd joins the team on its second tour of the wards

Thumbnail image of Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)

Highly entertaining Empire spoof from the usual team

Thumbnail image of Lady Vanishes, The (1938)Lady Vanishes, The (1938)

Glorious comic thriller about a mysteriously disappearing old woman

Thumbnail image of Magic Bow, The (1946)Magic Bow, The (1946)

Stewart Granger (and Yehudi Menuhin) as the violinist Paganini

Thumbnail image of Man Who Changed His Mind, The (1936)Man Who Changed His Mind, The (1936)

Wonderful early 'mad scientist' film, with Boris Karloff

Thumbnail image of Millions Like Us (1943)Millions Like Us (1943)

Launder & Gilliat film about the lives of women during World War II

Thumbnail image of My Brother's Keeper (1948)My Brother's Keeper (1948)

Fast-paced thriller with Jack Warner and George Cole as fugitive convicts

Thumbnail image of Nor The Moon By Night (1958)Nor The Moon By Night (1958)

Africa-set drama about two brothers and a troublesome girlfriend

Thumbnail image of Old Bones of the River (1938)Old Bones of the River (1938)

Will Hay comedy about an African colonial administrator

Thumbnail image of Tale of Two Cities, A (1958)Tale of Two Cities, A (1958)

Dirk Bogarde stars as an idealistic lawyer in this Dickens adaptation

Thumbnail image of Waterloo Road (1944)Waterloo Road (1944)

Soldier John Mills goes AWOL to investigate rumours about his wife

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