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Carol Reed

Biography

Academy Award-winning movie director from the 1969 film Oliver! His additional acclaimed works are the Fallen Idol, THE 3RD Man, and Unusual Guy Out. He was the illegitimate, London-born boy of a maker and acting professional. During his youngsters, he went to The King’s College, Canterbury. Before learning to be a movie director, he worked well as an acting professional and a theatrical stage supervisor. His second relationship, to Penelope Dudley-Ward, created one boy. As a man, he worked well as an individual assistant to article writer Edgar Wallace.

Quick Facts


Full Name Carol Reed
Date Of Birth December 30, 1906
Place Of Birth England
Height 1.88 m
Profession Director
Education The King's School, Canterbury
Nationality British
Spouse Penelope Dudley-Ward, Diana Wynyard
Children Max Reed
Parents Herbert Beerbohm Tree, May Pinney Reed
Siblings Iris Tree, Peter Reed, Viola Tree, Felicity Tree
Awards Academy Award for Best Director, Palme d'Or, BAFTA Award for Best British Film, Bodil Award for Best Non-American Film, Cannes Grand Prize of the Festival
Nominations Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture, BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
Movies The Third Man, Oliver!, Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Night Train to Munich, Our Man in Havana, Trapeze, The Man Between, The Stars Look Down, The Way Ahead, A Kid for Two Farthings, Outcast of the Islands, Follow Me!, The True Glory, Midshipman Easy, Flap, Mutiny on the Bounty, Kipps, The Running Man, Girl in the News, The Young Mr Pitt, Laburnum Grove, Bank Holiday, Talk of the Devil, Climbing High, It Happened in Paris, A Girl Must Live, Penny Paradise, The New Lot, A Letter from Home, The Key, Who's Your Lady Friend?, No Parking
TV Shows Rendezvous With Music
Star Sign Capricorn

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1He suffered increasingly from deafness in his later years, which made him less and less inclined to direct films.
2He died only one day before Sidney James, whom he directed in both A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) and Trapeze (1956).
3Directed two Oscar-nominated performances: Ron Moody and Jack Wild, both for Oliver! (1968).
4It is worth noting that when Reed resigned as director of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), he claimed that it was as a result of disagreements with producer Aaron Rosenberg--not, as is usually said, with star Marlon Brando. Brando always claimed that he admired Reed greatly and had supported him in arguments with Rosenberg.
5Is buried at Gunnersbury Cemetery in West London. His widow Penelope was laid to rest beside him following her death in 1982.
6He worked in close collaboration with writer Graham Greene in the late 1940s, producing two of his greatest films: The Fallen Idol (1948) and The Third Man (1949).
7One of his earliest mentors was writer Edgar Wallace.
8Steven Spielberg has named him as an influence.
9Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 917-923. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
10In 1952 he became the first British film director to receive a knighthood for his craft. Although producer/director Alexander Korda and actor/director Laurence Olivier had previously been knighted, Reed was the first to receive the distinction primarily for his directing work.
11Had a son Max from his marriage to Penelope Dudley-Ward.
12His lovers included Daphne Du Maurier and Jessie Matthews.
13Did not rate Alfred Hitchcock very highly, as he thought that the best directors should display their range through filming a variety of subjects, whereas Hitchcock chose to direct mainly thrillers.
14Quit after several months as director of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) because he found he was unable to handle Marlon Brando's ego. He was unaware that the studio had given Brando control of the picture.
15Step-father of actress Tracy Reed.
16Was the illegitimate son of Herbert Beerbohm Tree (Reed's mother, May Reed, was Tree's mistress).
17A retrospective of his work was held at the 48th Donostia-San Sebastián Film Festival in 2000.
18Uncle of Oliver Reed.


Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Public Eye1972
Flap1970
Oliver!1968
The Agony and the Ecstasy1965
The Running Man1963
Mutiny on the Bounty1962some scenes, uncredited
Our Man in Havana1959
The Key1958
Trapeze1956
A Kid for Two Farthings1955
The Man Between1953
Outcast of the Islands1951
The Third Man1949
The Fallen Idol1948
Odd Man Out1947
The True Glory1945Documentary uncredited
The Way Ahead1944
The New Lot1943Short
The Young Mr. Pitt1942
A Letter from Home1941Short
The Remarkable Mr. Kipps1941
Night Train to Munich1940
Girl in the News1940
The Stars Look Down1940
A Girl Must Live1939
Climbing High1938
Penny Paradise1938
Three on a Weekend1938
Who's Your Lady Friend?1937
Talk of the Devil1936
Laburnum Grove1936
Midshipman Easy1935
It Happened in Paris1935uncredited

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Agony and the Ecstasy1965producer - uncredited
The Running Man1963producer
Our Man in Havana1959producer
A Kid for Two Farthings1955producer
The Man Between1953producer
Outcast of the Islands1951producer
The Third Man1949producer
The Fallen Idol1948producer
Odd Man Out1947producer

Assistant Director

Assistant Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Java Head1934assistant director - uncredited
Autumn Crocus1934assistant director
Three Men in a Boat1933assistant director
Loyalties1933assistant director
The Squeaker1930assistant director: stage

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Third Man1949uncredited
No Parking1938story
Talk of the Devil1936screenplay / story

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Third Man1949Opening Narrator - UK Version (voice, uncredited)
Red Aces1930
The Flying Squad1929Offender

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Edgar Wallace: The Man Who Made His Name1976TV Movie documentaryHimself
Omnibus1969TV Series documentaryHimself - Interviewee
The 41st Annual Academy Awards1969TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Best Director
The Moviemakers1968/IDocumentary shortHimself (voice)
The Jack Paar Tonight Show1960TV SeriesHimself
Salute to Show Business1957TV MovieHimself
Korda Interviews1956TV Movie documentaryInterviewee

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
A Sense of Carol Reed2006Video documentary shortHimself
Shadowing the Third Man2004TV Movie documentaryHimself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1969OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorOliver! (1968)
1956Bronze Berlin BearBerlin International Film FestivalAudience PollTrapeze (1956)
1950BodilBodil AwardsBest European Film (Bedste europæiske film)The Fallen Idol (1948)
1949Grand Prize of the FestivalCannes Film FestivalThe Third Man (1949)
1949NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorThe Fallen Idol (1948)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1969Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest DirectorOliver! (1968)
1969BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest DirectionOliver! (1968)
1969BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest FilmOliver! (1968)
1969DGA AwardDirectors Guild of America, USAOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesOliver! (1968)
1969Golden PrizeMoscow International Film FestivalBest Feature FilmOliver! (1968)
1961DGA AwardDirectors Guild of America, USAOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesOur Man in Havana (1959)
1957DGA AwardDirectors Guild of America, USAOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesTrapeze (1956)
1955Palme d'OrCannes Film FestivalA Kid for Two Farthings (1955)
1951OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorThe Third Man (1949)
1950OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorThe Fallen Idol (1948)
1950DGA AwardDirectors Guild of America, USAOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesThe Third Man (1949)
1948Grand International AwardVenice Film FestivalThe Fallen Idol (1948)
1947Grand International AwardVenice Film FestivalOdd Man Out (1947)

3rd place awards

3rd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1968NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorOliver! (1968)
1940NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorNight Train to Munich (1940)

TitleSalary
The Key (1958)$150 000

#Quote
1I give the public what I like and hope they like it, too.
2[on Sophia Loren] She gives herself to you as an artist. During shooting, she'd ask me, "What did I do wrong? What can I do to make it better?" I never knew her to pull an act--the headache, the temperament. Usually with such a beauty, there is worry about the looks. She doesn't bother about looks. She's interested in acting.
3[on being asked which film he was most pleased with] They're all disappointments in the end. You only see the things you wish you had done. In the theatre you can take a play and then change it on tour or cut it down, but once you have finished a film and shown it, that's it . . . No, I have no favorites.
4Following the picture through to the last detail is critical, terribly important. You know, not enough directors are willing to do this. They are too eager to run off and play in the south of France--they want their money fast and easy. As soon as shooting is over they're thinking of the next picture and are willing to turn the current one over to the studio to cut. They're apt to say, "I'm too close to the picture now". That's nonsense. To make a good film you've got to sit down at the Moviola day after day--all day--running the footage over and over, trying combinations.
5The worst thing one can say to a child when aiming a camera at him is, "Act naturally". That will shrivel him on the spot. Children are natural actors but you must give them something to act. However many children you are going to film, give each one a separate identity. Tell the little boy to pretend the bicycle is one he has just won in a competition. Tell the little girl she is a princess in disguise. Give them something to work with and think about before the filming begins. Watch how one boy flicks his hair or rubs his nose, how a girl twists her braids and rubs one foot behind her leg. How they eat, how they smile, how they show shyness or jealousy by jumping up and down or pouting in a certain way. Then, when you are ready to film, re-enact their own mannerisms to them and ask them to imitate you. In fact, they will be doing what comes naturally to them.
6If you're adapting Lionel Bart's "Oliver!" you are committed to playing the story with its characters and numbers and all the rest of it--Oliver running away from home, going back, walking the streets and so on. The pattern is so complex, it opens into Clerkenwell and fills out a London square. We sometimes changed the order of the spacing of the numbers. The story, too, had to be cut. We had to eliminate [Charles Dickens'] subplot, and that amounts to a quarter or a third of the film. The rest is story and the story is found in Lionel Bart's numbers--"Food, Glorious Food", "You've got to pick a pocket or two", "Who Will Buy?" The choreography, while belonging, is in a sense a separate film needing its own exteriors.
7[on directing Oliver! (1968)] I discovered that in a big musical the man who directs it is far more dependent on other people than in a straight film. He has to learn from experts and consult with them all the time. He has none of the autonomy he's accustomed to exercise in a non-musical subject.
8The whole thing is in the preparation. I like to work three months or more on a script and come to the floor with it finished to the letter.
9Films are made in fear and worry and panic. There is no happiness in this business.
10[on the task of directing Oliver! (1968)] This is [Charles Dickens]. There are problems of a special kind. You say to yourself: "Fagin as a character would never dream of singing anything, nor, perhaps, would the Artful Dodger or Bill Sikes". They would probably get a laugh. The only way we could do justice to these characters as well as we knew how, and you can only do that in England. We concentrated upon them and made them the center of attraction. I never visualized "Oliver!" as a show dominated by a single star. In fact, there are seven very good parts.
11I don't believe the cinema is a place for little lectures on how everybody should live. I don't think audiences want them either, unless they are very original and striking. Personally I dislike the infusion of amateur politics into films. Certainly that is not the director's job.
12The most important purpose of the commercial filmmaker is to produce entertainment [that] will draw the largest possible number of the paying public into the cinema, and keep them there. You could gather a large number of people together to gaze at a two-headed dog, especially if you had a man with a loud enough voice announcing it; but the number of times people can be induced to pay money to see the dog is strictly limited; the wise showman provides also a bearded lady and a living skeleton--all, be it emphasized, strictly genuine. The public may be gullible, but there is a limit to its credulity. The swindling or unimaginative showman, like the man who deliberately makes bogus or otherwise unworthy films, may be successful for a while; but he has no future.
13[speaking in the late 1950s] I've never seen a comedy in color, not a good one. You cannot seem to get it. Color is just not real enough yet. Perhaps it is for television, where your audience is sitting in a room with the lights on. But in a dark theater, confronted by that huge screen, I feel that it's just not convincing.
14After you've been shooting awhile and are looking at your footage as you go, you begin to see the picture taking shape, establishing a rhythym of it's own. Things begin to fall into place of themselves. That's when you begin to feel the picture's natural pace and you develop it. You can then work with the actors and mould and shape it.
15I make films for the public, but in a manner that I like myself. I don't know what the public wants, and I doubt whether the public does either. Peole like a good picture, so you have to make a film on trust, knowing that if it is good people will like it.
16There is nothing worse than a film that is directed by someone who has little or no knowledge of the habits or ways of the country concerned in the picture. For instance, I would never make a film with an American college background, I would be bound to make too many mistakes.
17[on moving from being an assistant director to director] I was indefinite and indecisive. I thought I had picked up a lot about cutting and camera angles, but now, when I had to make all the decisions myself and was not just mentally approving or criticizing what somebody else decided, I was pretty well lost. Fortunately I realized that this was the only way to learn--by making mistakes.
18I don't think people care what sort of kitchen curtains I have. I don't think they care about the technical people. Stars are the draw. They earn their publicity. It brings the people in. But no one would go to see a film because it was directed by Carol Reed.
19Picture-making is often sheer misery. Planning them is great fun. Making them is rather like riding on a switchback at a fair; you hardly dare imagine what is coming next.
20I believe it is essential that the director and the editor should work closely together right through the picture--and I like working with the same editor. You get used to working together--otherwise you're only beginning to know each other by the end of the picture.
21[on The Third Man (1949)] I shot most of the film with a wide-angle lens that distorted the buildings and emphasized the wet cobblestone streets. But the angle of vision was to suggest that something crooked was going on. I don't think it's a very good idea. I haven't used it much since--only when I need to shoot someone standing behind another person who's sitting and I don't want to cut off his head.
22It's dull to stick to the same sort of subject and bad for one's work into the bargain. Repetition makes a director grow stale in his job, and lose his grip as an entertainer. I happen to love a dark street, with wet cobbles, and a small furtive figure under a lamp at the corner. Whenever I go on location, I instinctively look for something of that kind. Now that is bad; thoroughly bad for me, and tedious for the public. Variety is an essential exercise to a director. Every new film should be a new beginning, and nobody should ever be able to say with any certainty, "Oh, that'a a Carol Reed subject", or "That's not a Carol Reed subject". It's doing the particular job well--and every sort of job--that primarily interests me. I don't think the type of subject matters much.
23All I believe the director can do is to approach his subject with a meticulously prepared list of scenes to be shot with their general description and the dialogue entailed in each, and an absolutely clear idea of the effect he wants to achieve.
24The work of any director making pictures in this country is conditioined absolutely by the happy ending. I am sure that this is a wrong-minded policy and keeps many intelligent minded people out of the cinemas, for whatever the circumstances of a story, the end is inevitably the same, boy gets girl.
25[speaking in the late '40s] The future of British films depends on how they are made; if the standard is high then the future is rosy. This achieved, there is no reason why the British film world should not become a big industry like its American counterpart. We have a wealth of good actors. The trouble here is that we do not make enough good pictures to keep them occupied. We must at least double our output--but not on the basis of 25 brilliant pictures and 75 bad ones.
26[speaking in 1938] In time I believe we shall get away from the eternal happy ending--it is difficult to get an audience really interested in the problems of the two main characters of a story when they know in the end it will all work out all right, however difficult it may seem. The French have done it. Why shouldn't we?
27I think it is the director's job--as in the old theatre--to convey faithfully what the author had in mind. Unless you have worked with the author in the first place you cannot convey to the actors what he had in mind nor can you convey to the editor at the end the original idea. In making a picture you have got to go back to the first stage to see how important something may be in establishing this scene or that character.
28A director should plan in advance how a scene is to be played, but he should always be ready to put the camera here instead of there, and change everything at the last moment if he comes across a better way of doing it.
29[on directing Bobby Henrey in The Fallen Idol (1948)] A child of eight can't act. I wasn't looking for an exhibitionist. Adults have habitual features and defenses. A good actor must take something away, lose a part of himself before he can create a role. But with the right sort of child such as Bobby, there is nothing in the way. There is absolutely no resistance. He will do everything you tell him.
30[on Hollywood] I have no desire to stay there, purely for one reason. When you have lived your life in one country and grown accustomed to the national traits and temperament, it is difficult to do justice to your skill elsewhere. I have never yet seen it succeed. In America, [Jean Renoir], for instance, never made such brilliant pictures as he did in France. This applies equally to René Clair--to almost everyone save [Alfred Hitchcock, who, of course, keeps to thrillers; these have an advantage over the types of plot because they are richly spiced with incident from the start. In contrast, the more delicate the story the greater the demands on subtle treatment.
31[on his acting days] You know, I wasn't a good actor. I began as a spear carrier and then appeared through the countryside in repertory, but though I got decent parts and so on, I was never very good. Yet I'm glad I did it for seven years or so because it helped me subsequently in understanding the actor's problems.
32To be any good to a director an actor must either be wonderful, or know nothing about acting. A little knowledge--that's what is bad.

#Trademark
1Often cast Trevor Howard
2Children figure significantly in his films (The Fallen Idol (1948) told through a child's point of view, Boy with ball in The Third Man (1949), protagonists in Oliver! (1968) are children; children are everywhere & see everything in Odd Man Out (1947))
3Narrrow, dark spaces: laneways and tunnels (The Third Man (1949) and Odd Man Out (1947))
4Scenes in which staircases are put to dramatic use (e.g., The Fallen Idol (1948), and the London Bridge sequence in Oliver! (1968))
5Tilted camera angles at moments of suspense or uneasiness

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