Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Miller, Arnold Louis (1922-)

Producer, Director, Writer

Main image of Miller, Arnold Louis (1922-)

In a career spanning a quarter of a century, Arnold Miller worked as a film director, producer and writer and is probably best known for the exploitation titles he made in association with the companies Compton and Tigon. Many of these were made with Stanley Long.

Although a life long film fan, Miller initially worked in comics. Based above a newsagent on Lower James Street, London - a shop that was run by his wife - the Arnold Book Company produced a number of titles in the 1950s. Space Comics told of the Interplanetary Police Patrol while Ace Malloy (a name derived to use Miller's initials) featured the exploits of an adventurous airman. The later comic no doubt drew upon Miller's time in the RAF a few years earlier. Miller's interest in comics was inspired by his father, who operated L. Miller and Son Ltd (later L. Miller and Co.), a company that both reprinted American titles for British audiences and created new ones. One of its creations, Marvelman, was later resurrected by the internationally renowned comic writer Alan Moore.

Both Millers produced comics that were frowned upon by the growing UK anti-comics campaign. Black Magic and Tales From the Crypt, American titles reprinted by the Arnold Book Company, were named in a front page newspaper article that claimed that these and other hideous comics had prompted children to visit a local cemetery. Such controversy led to the passing of the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act in 1955. (Oddly enough, as late as 1970, L. Miller & Co. became one of the first companies to be prosecuted under the Act and closed for business shortly after.) Arnold Miller believed that those who had created the Act had never even read the comics they were dismissing and in protest sent a boxful to the House of Commons. These have never been returned.

Arnold Miller courted controversy in other areas and produced the glamour magazine, Photo Studio. It was this publication to that put him in contact with a young Stanley Long; Long took the pictures of nude women that graced the magazine's pages. Miller recalls one particularly risky photoshoot that involved some frenzied snapping as a naked woman ascended a London Underground escalator. In time the pair began shooting 8mm 'nudie' shorts released under the Stag Films banner. At least one hundred such films were produced by Miller.

Miller wanted to develop his filmmaking career and began with career education films. The first of these, River Pilot (1959), was seen in over a hundred schools. The exploitation producer, Nat Miller, advised him that in future he should either cut production costs or do something different. So, building on his experience making educational films and the 'nudie' shorts, Arnold Miller, with Long, made Nudist Memories (1960). One of the very first films of its sort, this 27 minute short expounded on the benefits of nudism and exploited the opportunity to show naked flesh ostensibly outside of a sexual context. It was Miller's first film to gain a cinema release. Miller, again with Long, followed this with Nudes of the World (1961) and West End Jungle (1961), an expose of prostitution that was accurately marketed outside the capital as "the film that London cannot see!" The London Country Council had refused a certificate.

Inspired by the success of another sensational documentary, Mondo Cane (Italy, 1962), the pair dug further into the world of the sordid and the bizarre, coming up with London in the Raw (1964) and Primitive London (1965). These films were part-produced and distributed by Compton, a company run by Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser. When Tenser subsequently set up his Tigon company, Miller was a regular contributor to its output, notably producing The Blood Beast Terror (d. Vernon Sewell, 1967) and Witchfinder General (d. Michael Reeves, 1968). When Tony Tenser invited Miller to invest greater sums of money into Tigon Productions, Miller declined, preferring to keep his options open and the freedom that went with being independent. Miller found favour with Tenser in part due to his ability to not only save money during production work but make it: Tenser recalled that Miller made a profit by subsequently selling a taxi that was bought for use in The Sorcerers (d. Michael Reeves, 1967).

Following his departure from the orbit of Tigon, Arnold Miller made sex comedies A Touch of the Other (1970) and Sex Farm (1973). Realising that he found no enjoyment directing actors and that he preferred production work and documentary subjects, he was now content to leave his independence behind. Entering into a film contract with Columbia and Warner, he made a series of supporting features with his wife, Sheila Miller. Mostly travelogues, they include Italian Taste (1978), Islands in the Sun (1979), and High, Wide and Handsome (1981).

While Arnold Miller describes this period as his happiest in the filmmaking industry, sadly the situation did not last. The contract provided regular work, with Miller making eight films a year; and, utilising the benefits offered by the Eady Fund (a levy that effectively taxed American film takings in the UK to the financial benefit of British filmmakers), these ensured regular income. However, when the Eady Fund was brought to an end by the Conservative Government, so too were many filmmakers' careers - including that of Arnold Miller. He made his last film, The English Riviera, in 1984.

William Fowler

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Primitive London (1965)Primitive London (1965)

Deliriously over-the-top, salacious 'exposé' of Swinging London

Thumbnail image of Witchfinder General (1968)Witchfinder General (1968)

Gruelling but thoughtful horror about the 17th Century witch-hunts

Related collections

Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Long, Stanley A. (1933-2012)Long, Stanley A. (1933-2012)

Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer