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Greene, Graham (1904-1991)

Writer, Critic

Main image of Greene, Graham (1904-1991)

Graham Greene's contribution to British cinema is probably the greatest of any novelist of his - or indeed any other - generation.

Collaborations with Carol Reed - The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949), Our Man in Havana (1960) - and the Boultings' Brighton Rock (1947) are especially notable.

Virtually all his novels and novellas have been filmed, with Greene adapting Our Man in Havana and The Comedians (US, d. Peter Glenville, 1967) and writing and co-producing The Stranger's Hand (UK/Italy, d. Mario Soldati, 1953). He also adapted Saint Joan (UK/US, d. Otto Preminger, 1957) from Shaw's play.

His career as a critic began in the 1930s with stints at The Spectator and Night and Day. The latter publication was forced to close as a result of damages awarded in a libel action brought against the publishers by Twentieth Century-Fox when Greene, in a review of the studio's Wee Willie Winkie (US, d. John Ford, 1937), queried the sexual exploitation of the film's child star Shirley Temple.

Greene was an outspoken and influential critic, and wrote an unfavourable review of Alexander Korda's Twenty-One Days (d. Basil Dean, 1937), for which Greene himself had adapted John Galsworthy's novel The First and the Last. He was similarly unimpressed with Joseph L.Mankiewicz's version of his novel The Quiet American (US, 1957) and campaigned against the film's release in Britain.

Greene makes a brief appearance in Fran├žois Truffaut's Day for Night (La nuit americaine, France, 1973) as "Henry Graham", an insurance man watching the rushes of a doomed film.

Books: Travels in Greeneland: The Cinema of Graham Greene by Quentin Falk (1990, revised edition); Mornings in the Dark: The Graham Greene Film Reader edited by David Parkinson (1993).

Simon Caterson, Encyclopedia of British Film

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From the BFI's filmographic database

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Brighton Rock (1947)Brighton Rock (1947)

Graham Greene thriller with Richard Attenborough as a vicious gangster

Thumbnail image of Fallen Idol, The (1948)Fallen Idol, The (1948)

Classic child's eye story from Carol Reed and Graham Greene

Thumbnail image of Our Man in Havana (1959)Our Man in Havana (1959)

Alec Guinness is out of his depth in pre-revolution Cuba

Thumbnail image of Third Man, The (1949)Third Man, The (1949)

Masterful thriller set in postwar Vienna - recently voted Britain's greatest film

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Adapting The Third ManAdapting The Third Man

Graham Greene's script compared with his original novella.

Thumbnail image of The Origins of The Third ManThe Origins of The Third Man

The various elements that inspired the classic film

Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Greene, Sir Hugh (1910-1987) Greene, Sir Hugh (1910-1987)


Thumbnail image of Reed, Carol (1906-1976)Reed, Carol (1906-1976)

Director, Producer, Writer