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Green, Guy (1913-2005)

Director, Cinematographer, Writer

Main image of Green, Guy (1913-2005)

Guy Green was born in Somerset on 5 November 1913. After leaving school he joined the Commercial Maritime Film Service as an assistant projectionist showing films aboard ocean liners. When he returned to England he opened a photographic studio in Soho before working as a clapper boy at Sound City and as a focus puller and camera operator at Elstree. While working as camera operator on One of our Aircraft is Missing (d. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1942) at Denham, he became friendly with the film's editor, David Lean. When Lean began his own directorial career with In Which We Serve (1943) and This Happy Breed (1944), Green acted as his operator.

Green had served as cinematographer on Spellbound (d. John Harlow, 1940) and Escape to Danger (d. Lance Comfort, 1943), but his breakthrough came on the much more prestigious Carol Reed film, The Way Ahead (1944) which in turn led him to resume his collaboration with Lean as cinematographer on Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), The Passionate Friends (1948) and Madeleine (1950). He proved his ability to work in colour with the sumptuous melodrama, Blanche Fury (d. Marc Allégret, 1947) and photographed American-backed Technicolor costume pictures such as Captain Horatio Hornblower (d. Raoul Walsh, 1951) and Rob Roy the Highland Rogue (d. Harold French, 1953), before making his debut as director with two nicely-paced thrillers, River Beat (1954) and Portrait of Alison (1955). Lost (1955) from a story by Janet Green about a kidnapped child, was more ambitious - a compelling drama with some unusual insights into career mothers. After two more thrillers, House of Secrets and The Snorkel (1958), Green made Sea of Sand (1958) a Second World War drama shot in Libya which successfully captured the dynamics within a group of well-rounded characters.

Sea of Sand was followed by The Angry Silence (1960), which Green made in association with Bryan Forbes and Richard Attenborough, who had been with him in the Libyan desert. It concerns a factory hand who is sent to Coventry by his co-workers when he refuses to go on strike. Though attacked at the time for its supposed anti-union bias (the union is seen to be manipulated by a shadowy communist agitator) it benefits from Attenborough's heartfelt performance and the equally committed acting of Pier Angeli as his Italian wife and Michael Craig as his vacillating lodger and workmate. Green followed up with another, equally controversial film, The Mark (1961), which did less well at the box office, though Stuart Whitman's performance as a sex offender trying to re-integrate himself back into society was nominated for an Oscar.

Nevertheless, Green had established an international reputation and a number of Hollywood films followed. He went on to make Pretty Polly (1967), based on a story by Noël Coward, which boasts a fine performance from Hayley Mills and sumptuous location photography, but was deemed hopelessly old-fashioned for the late 60s; and The Magus, based on a modish and very long novel by John Fowles, which was attacked by critics as pretentious and obscure. After making Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough (US, 1974) and a German adaptation of a Morris West novel, Des Teufels Advokat (1977), Green turned to directing American television films.

Brownlow, Kevin, David Lean (London, Faber & Faber, 1997)
McFarlane, Brian, An Autobiography of British Cinema (London: BFI, 1992)
Most, Madelyn, 'The Most Report: Guy Green', Eyepiece, Oct/Nov. 1997, pp. 23-34
Murphy, Robert, Sixties British Cinema (London, BFI, 1992).

Margaret Butler, Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors

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Thumbnail image of Angry Silence, The (1960)Angry Silence, The (1960)

Melodrama about union intimidation, starring Richard Attenborough

Thumbnail image of Great Expectations (1946)Great Expectations (1946)

David Lean's definitive Dickens adaptation

Thumbnail image of Madeleine (1949)Madeleine (1949)

David Lean's film about real-life alleged murderess Madeleine Smith

Thumbnail image of Oliver Twist (1948)Oliver Twist (1948)

David Lean's definitive version of Charles Dickens' classic novel

Thumbnail image of Passionate Friends, The (1948)Passionate Friends, The (1948)

David Lean film about a woman who marries for money rather than love

Thumbnail image of Way Ahead, The (1944)Way Ahead, The (1944)

Inspiring propaganda film following the making of an Army unit

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