Carol Reed

Carol Reed

Reed soon earned a reputation for his finely observed portrayals of working-class life, such as "Bank Holiday" (1938), "The Stars Look Down" (1939)--the film which established Reed as a major director--and "Kipps" (1941), adapted from the novel by H.G. Wells. He also earned attention for "Night Train to Munich" (1940), a wartime comedy-thriller which borrowed heavily--but creditably--from Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes." (Both films were written by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat.) These early features confirmed Reed as a capable craftsman with a sharp eye for detail, an unpretentious style and a knack for extracting fine performances from his actors.During WWII, Reed worked as a director for the Army Kinematograph Service and directed the acclaimed propaganda feature, "The Way Ahead" (1944), starring David Niven. He also co-directed, with Garson Kanin, "The True Glory" (1945), an Oscar-winning documentary compiled from footage shot by Allied army cameramen.Reed hit his peak in the post-war years with a string of features which remain landmarks in English film history. These began with "Odd Man Out" (1947), a superb hunt drama which follows a wounded Irish revolutionary (James Mason) through the final encounters of his life. The success of "Odd Man Out" led to a contract with Alexander Korda, for whom Reed made five films, beginning with "The Fallen Idol" (1948). A superbly crafted thriller which turns on a child's misconception of adult emotional entanglements, it was followed in 1949 by the director's acknowledged masterpiece, "The Third Man." Justly regarded as the finest of the many films to have been adapted from the works of Graham Greene, this atmospheric thriller made superb use of its postwar Viennese locations and featured fine performances from Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles.After his excellent but unjustly neglected "An Outcast of the Islands" (1951), Reed found his critical reputation taking a somewhat downward turn in the 1950s and early 60s, when he turned out a number of more expensive, but less meticulously crafted productions such as the Hollywood-made "Trapeze" (1958) and "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965). His fortunes revived with "Oliver!" (1968), an exuberant musical version of Dickens's "Oliver Twist" which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.Reed's first marriage (1943-47) was to the distinguished stage and screen actress Diana Wynyard; he married another actress, Penelope Dudley Ward, in 1948. He was knighted in 1952 for his services to the British film industry.