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Mills, Reginald (1912-1990)

Editor, Director

Main image of Mills, Reginald (1912-1990)

As both assistant and fully fledged editor, Reginald Mills worked with some of the most highly regarded figures within British film history. He assisted David Lean on films including As You Like It (d. Paul Czinner, 1936) and Dreaming Lips (d. Czinner, 1937). After this Mills worked for Publicity Films at Merton Park Studios, directing and editing sponsored and advertising films. During the war he served with the Army Kinematograph Unit.

Mills then enjoyed a long stint as editor of all the classic post-war films directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Mills' love of music, ballet and opera made him well suited to experiment with them on the idea of the 'composed' film. Like many directors of that period, Powell was rarely seen in the cutting rooms while Mills was preparing his first cut. According to Mills' long-term assistant Noreen Ackland, Powell "respected him a lot". This is corroborated by the praise given to Mills' editing in Powell's volumes of autobiography.

Mills returned to directing and editing commercials in the latter part of the 1950s prior to renewing a fruitful collaboration with Joseph Losey on films including The Servant (1963) and King and Country (1964). Friction with Harold Pinter after editing The Servant contributed to a parting of the ways before the next Losey-Pinter collaboration. Mills' most sustained collaboration towards the end of his career was with Franco Zeffirelli. He finally realised a long-held ambition to direct a feature with the ballet film Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971). As an editor Mills insisted upon the paramount importance of the perfect timing of cuts. Although in certain respects a traditionalist who disliked some of the innovations of the 1960s, his editing, in the words of his obituarist, "often had a great force and energy, almost a violence, that added a new element to the films concerned". Mills was also a pioneer of the trend towards eliminating opticals from editing.

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

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Battle of the River Plate, The (1956)Battle of the River Plate, The (1956)

Last of the Powell/Pressburger partnership - a WWII naval drama

Thumbnail image of Black Narcissus (1947)Black Narcissus (1947)

Remarkably passionate melodrama set in a Himalayan convent

Thumbnail image of Circus of Horrors (1960)Circus of Horrors (1960)

Lurid horror about a deranged plastic surgeon

Thumbnail image of Criminal, The (1960)Criminal, The (1960)

Joseph Losey's fascinating portrait of a changing criminal underworld

Thumbnail image of Damned, The (1963)Damned, The (1963)

Joseph Losey's chiller about the after-effects of radiation

Thumbnail image of Elusive Pimpernel, The (1950)Elusive Pimpernel, The (1950)

David Niven stars in an entertaining tale of revolutionary France

Thumbnail image of Gone to Earth (1950)Gone to Earth (1950)

Rural melodrama of a young woman pursued by predatory men.

Thumbnail image of Matter of Life and Death, A (1946)Matter of Life and Death, A (1946)

Romance fantasy bridging the gap between two worlds

Thumbnail image of New Lot, The (1943)New Lot, The (1943)

Propaganda short that became the model for The Way Ahead

Thumbnail image of Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955)Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955)

Powell & Pressburger musical comedy based on 'Die Fledermaus'

Thumbnail image of Red Shoes, The (1948)Red Shoes, The (1948)

Powell and Pressburger's beautiful and delirious ballet film

Thumbnail image of Servant, The (1963)Servant, The (1963)

James Fox and Dirk Bogarde's savage attack on the British class system

Thumbnail image of Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)

Joseph Losey's British debut stars Dirk Bogarde as a young criminal

Thumbnail image of Small Back Room, The (1949)Small Back Room, The (1949)

Tense drama about an alcoholic bomb disposal expert

Thumbnail image of Tales of Hoffmann, The (1951)Tales of Hoffmann, The (1951)

Visually ravishing Powell & Pressburger film of the Offenbach opera

Thumbnail image of Jesus of Nazareth (1977)Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Robert Powell plays Jesus Christ in Franco Zeffirelli's famous miniseries

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