Ronald Neame: “I was brought up in a school that said, ‘There is no camera'”

Suppose you’re only as good as your last film, and especially as good as your last film’s receipts at the box office. In that case, film director Ronald Neame must have been at his peak when “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) was released, the first and most successful of a string of all-star cast disaster films made during the 1970s.

But was he really? I had my doubts. Why? Simply because Mr. Neame, a British-born filmmaker, a survivor of a generation of film pioneers and alive and kickin’ at ninety-two when I met him in Beverly Hills in 2003, was an all-round cinematographer-screenwriter-producer-turned-director of various screen classics made throughout the entire 20th century. When we were talking, Mr. Neame said at one point, “I went all the way through the growing pains of sound, the aggravations, the irritations, with the cameramen in the camera booth, sound people in the sound booth—the bloody great microphone had to be only one inch above the actor otherwise the sound was no good, there were shadows all over the walls, everybody had a miserable time till we really got used to it. And look at us, here we are now!” Voilà!

In the 1940s, before he had even directed his first film, Mr. Neame was nominated three times for an Academy Award. First for the sound effects on “One of Our Aircrafts Is Missing” (1942, with C. C. Stevens), and then for writing the screenplays of “Brief Encounter” (1945) and “Great Expectations” (1946, both co-written with David Lean and Anthony Havelock-Allan). The following year, he began his career as a film director with first film, “Take My Life,” starring Hugh Williams and Greta Gynt.

I was introduced to him by a mutual friend, casting director Marvin Paige (1927-2013). This interview, conducted at Mr. Neame’s home in Los Angeles, has always been a very fond memory of mine. To this day, I can still hear his powerful voice, and how he talked about his work in films so passionately during a most delightful afternoon he allowed me to spend with him.

Straight from te Horse's Mouth
Ronald Neame’s autobiography “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth” (2003), foreword by Michael Caine

Mr. Neame, could you tell a bit of your background? Who were your parents?

My father, Elwin Neame [1887-1923], was a photographer-director who directed my mother in 1908. He was also probably the best still photographer in London at that time. He had a very good reputation at age twenty-three for photographing beautiful women, lovely portraits of women. He always used twelve by ten negatives. On the wall of every subway station in London, opposite the platform where you stood, there was a picture of a beautiful woman with underneath the caption If it’s a Neame, it’s you at your best. In 1908 the Daily Mirror ran the first World Beauty competition, and my father was asked to photograph the twenty-five finalists. My mother was one of the twenty-five he photographed. She won the competition, and he married her. She became a very important silent film star, and so when I was six weeks old, I was carried on to the set—my first set—and I grew up surrounded by film. My mother, Ivy Close [1890-1968], went to France and also came to America—this was all before Hollywood even existed—she went to Florida to work in the Kalem comedies. She then was spotted by [French film Ronald Neame popster La Roue 1director] Abel Gance [1889-1981], and she played the lead in the film “La Roue” [1923], which he made just before “Napoleon” [1927]. I was with her on location when I was ten. After my mother had died, they ran the film again here [in Los Angeles] at the New Art Theater, and I thought, I’d love to see what my mother was like as an actress. So I went to the theater; there were lines all around the theater for this silent Abel Gance film. People wanted to see it because they had just run “Napoleon.” I asked the manager, ‘I have a very special reason for wanting to see this film, so I would like to avoid the lines, but I don’t want to get in for nothing. I will pay for it.’ He asked, ‘May I ask what this special reason is?’ I said, ‘Well, the leading lady was my mother.’ And it was amazing. He took me in, he sat me down, he introduced me to the audience, and for the first time in my life, I saw my mother up there on the screen when she was a young woman.

You started at the bottom. In 1927, you joined Elstree Studios in London as a messenger boy and call boy before moving up to still photographer and assistant cameraman with Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” as his first major assignment. How did that come about?

When I was twelve, my father was killed in a motor accident [1923], and as my mother had to go on tour with the theater—she had to make money—I went to boarding school for a year, but at the end of the first year, there wasn’t enough money to keep me there, so I had to go to work. When I was fifteen, I had my first job as a messenger boy until my mother—bless her heart—got me an interview with the studio manager of British International Pictures at Elstree, resulting in jobs as a messenger boy and a gopher. Eighteen months later, I was fortunate enough to be an assistant cameraman on Hitchcock’s “Blackmail,” which was a silent film. In came sound, we then made sound sequences and turned it into a sound film.

Do you still remember those days working for Alfred Hitchcock?

It’s very difficult for me to enlarge too much on Hitchcock [1899-1980] because I only made that one picture with him, and I was only sixteen at the time. He came to Hollywood shortly after that and spent the rest of his life over here, while I remained in England for many years. But whenever I came over here, I always met him, right up until the end. He knew exactly where he wanted the camera, he knew exactly where he wanted to cut it, and he wanted the actors exactly to do what he wanted them to do—without any argument. And so there were certain actors that didn’t like him. Any film he made always was a Hitchcock film, and not all actors liked that. He once said that actors should be treated as cattle. He really said that, and he really believed that actors had to do exactly what they were told to do, do less rather than more. In Russia, they once did an experiment; there was a close-up of a man, looking past camera, and downside. They shot fifty feet or a hundred feet of the man, just looking. They then cut from, let’s say, a motor accident to the man; the man looked shocked. They then put a feast with wonderful food, cut to the man and back to the food; the man looked hungry. They cut him in the same shot into four or five different situations, and he figured them all. That is what Hitch believed in. If the actors did exactly what he wanted them to do, then it would be fine. But you have to remember that actors are not cattle. [British film director] Carol Reed [1906-1976], for example, was exactly the opposite. He believed that actors were like racehorses, like royalty. You had to lead them very gently, you had to pad them, encourage them, and if you’d pull them too hard, they’d fight against you. David Lean didn’t like actors collectively, but he knew they were tremendously important to him, so he did everything he could to get good, great performances out of them.

What about Alfred Hitchcock? Was he, as often speculated, ahead of his time?

He was way ahead of his time. “Blackmail” used sound in a more imaginative way than it was used for years. Hitchcock was Hitchcock: he was unique, he was cruel, he used to be a great practical joker—he loved playing jokes on people, some very weird jokes too. He once gave a big party at the Regent Palace and invited anybody who was of any importance in theater and film, amongst them a very famous stage actor who was also a knight. Hitch had told this actor it was a fancy dress party and that he was expected to come as a warrior or as a knight—dressed up. So all the guests arrived, and the only one dressed up, was this actor. Hitch thought this was very funny, but it was tremendously embarrassing for this man. To make matters worse, when it was dessert time at the dinner tables, the doors opened, and in came a naked woman who sat on this actor’s lap. That was one side of Hitchcock, the practical joker. But you didn’t play jokes on him. He didn’t like that. I never made another film with him, but I knew him all his life. The last time I saw him was at the time when I was shooting “Meteor” [1979] with Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. Hitch was in a wheelchair when the British-American Chamber of Commerce made him Man of the Year, and they had asked me to introduce him. As I went up to him—we hadn’t seen each other for three or four years—I said, ‘Do you remember me, Hitch? Ronnie Neame?’ He looked up, he smiled, and he said, ‘You were one of my boys! You’ve grown sideburns, Ronnie!’ That was our last meeting. We had lunch, and he died just a few months later.

“Happy” [1933] starring Stanley Lupino [father of actress-director Ida Lupino], was one of your earliest achievements and the start of your career as a cinematographer?

When I worked on “Happy”—I was barely twenty at the time—I collaborated with Claude Friese-Greene, who was the son of the man we claim invented the motion picture camera, William Friese-Greene [1855-1921]. Now, France claims [Louis] Lumière [1864-1948, with brother Auguste, 1862-1954], and America claims [Thomas A.] Edison [1847-1931] invented it. Edison had the money to keep the patents going, while Friese-Greene was broke. I’m sure all three of them were ready about the same time; film was due to arrive. Many years later, I produced a film called “The Magic Box” [1951], the Friese-Greene story, and for that film, we took as much as we could from his life. But of course, his family wanted him whitewashed, they wanted him presented as a sweet, lovely man, although he drank very heavily and he was always in debt. He died in poverty, attending a meeting of distributors, pleading for the film industry to work together instead of different factions fighting each other.

In the 1930s, you made several British films, but meeting director David Lean [1908-1991] was the turning point in his career, I suppose?

Absolutely. We took an immediate liking to each other and first worked together with “In Which We Serve” [1942] which was very nearly canceled. At that time, we couldn’t work without the help of the various Ministries, and the problem was we couldn’t get any facilities. We couldn’t get any wood for the sets, we couldn’t get any steel. They were against it. They thought it was a ridiculous film to make in wartime; the story of a British destroyer being sunk by the Germans, that’s not the kind of film they wanted. They considered it would be very bad propaganda, so they wanted us to make films about German ships being sunk. Lord Mountbatten, who was a great film fan and a great personal friend of [the film’s co-director, screenwriter, composer, and leading actor] Noel Coward’s, was Chief of Combined Operations during the War, and he got us the material to make the film. He even loaned us real sailors to be our extras. That was a wonderful experience, so much that David and I stayed together.

Newsweek described “In Which We Serve” as ‘one of the screen’s proudest achievements at any time and in any country.’ I’m sure this film paved the way for “This Happy Breed” [1944] and “Blithe Spirit” [1945]?

That’s right, and after completing those films, I was sent to America by [Lord J.] Arthur Rank [1888-1972] to go to all the studios and find out what we needed in England to bring ourselves up to date at the end of the War. So I came over here in Los Angeles and had the most extraordinary, wonderful six weeks because I was treated like a lord. Not because I was somebody, but because I was representing Arthur Rank with his eight hundred theaters. So you can imagine how well I was treated. The first thing they asked was, ‘Would you like an office?’ I said, ‘That would be very nice.’ ‘You need a secretary?’ ‘That would also be very nice because I have to send a report back to Rank.’ They said, ‘Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?’ And as a joke [laughs], I said, ‘I really like redheads.’ And the next morning, in my office, there was this gorgeous redhead secretary! I wasn’t complaining!” [Laughs.]

This was your golden era of filmmaking?

Looking back, the era of filmmaking which I particularly love and which we call ‘The Golden Years’ was when David Lean and I came together as friends when I shot films as “Major Barbara” [1941] and “One of Our Aircraft Is Missing” [1942, both edited by David Lean]. When Noel Coward wanted to make an epic about the War, “In Which We Serve” [1942] came along and compared to those films, I am certainly not proud of “The Poseidon Adventure” [1972] as a piece of film, but, you see, a few years ago, we had the thirtieth anniversary on the Queen Mary, which was the ship we used for our locations.

“Brief Encounter” (1945, trailer)

And where does “Brief Encounter” [1945] fit in? It still is one of the decade’s most notable films: intelligent, magnificent, atmospheric and, even shot in black-and-white, it looks so colorful.

”Brief Encounter” was a wonderful picture, and it was made during the wonderful years when we made the films we wanted to make, the way we wanted to make them, and we were able to cast whoever we wanted to cast. Arthur Rank just said, ‘Okay, David and Ronnie, I trust you. If you want to do another Noel Coward play, that is fine with me.’ And so we got together with Anthony Havelock-Allan [1904-2003], a great, wonderful man who just passed away, and the three of us made “Brief Encounter.” Noel has to be credited with a lot of thinking on the script, and it’s very cleverly told in the film—that is David—starting with the flashbacks. Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto was Noel’s idea. He said, ‘There’s only one piece of music for this film.’ We used it all through the film. In my opinion, it is a perfect piece of filmmaking. How different from today. Today, it’s all phonetic—boom, boom, boom, cut, cut cut. I think the reason is they haven’t got any decent material. They think, ‘If we do it fast enough, and if we cut around quick enough, it will be all right.’ If something is well done, if you got a wonderful actress or a wonderful actor, you don’t have to cut all the time. Just let it play. I don’t think I could make films today; there’s no way. The last time I came near to a film like “Brief Encounter,” was, I think, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” [1969] with Maggie Smith.

Celia Johnson’s biography (1991), written by her daughter Kate Fleming. Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London

For the film’s leading actors Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, “Brief Encounter” was their breakthrough film, wasn’t it? It also earned Celia Johnson an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.

You see, Celia Johnson didn’t really like films very much, although she was a wonderful actress. She preferred being at home; she was the most un-actressy actress I have ever met. We were shooting “Brief Encounter” during the War, and we had to work a six-day week, but we always let Celia go at twelve o’clock on Saturday, because she had a long train journey back to where she lived. One particular Saturday, we worked up until twelve, she was just about to go, but we were planning to shoot another sequence, and David said, ‘Celia darling, can you just stay another ten minutes and run through the next sequence, so that we got it in our minds how we will set it up next Monday morning.’ Celia said, ‘That’s very unfair of you. You promised that I could always leave at twelve o’clock on Saturday, and a promise is something which you should keep.’ So I said, ‘Celia… just once.’ She said, ‘All right, but let’s make it quick.’ So, we rehearsed a five-minute sequence, and everybody on the set, the entire unit, was in tears, electricians, carpenters,… She played it sooo beautifully. And at the end, she looked at her watch and said, ‘Can I go now because I can just make that train?!’ Here we all were in tears, and it hadn’t affected her at all. She liked acting, but it wasn’t a priority for her. I cast her again in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” more than thirty years later, as the headteacher, and again, she was magnificent.

You then produced and co-wrote “Great Expectations” [1946] and produced “Oliver Twist” [1948], both some of the finest adaptations of any Charles Dickens novel. Novelist, poet, journalist, screenwriter and film critic James Agee once wrote that “Great Expectations” ‘did for Dickens what Henry V did for Shakespeare,’ and Time referred to “Oliver Twist” as ‘a brilliant, fantastic movie, no less a classic than the Dickens novel which it brings to life.’

Well, David and I were the closest in our collaboration when making “Brief Encounter” and “Great Expectations.” During the filming of “Brief Encounter,” Anthony Havelock-Allan took on the producing chores because I was busy writing the first screenplay of “Great Expectations,” and David joined me after “Brief Encounter” was finished. David made “Brief Encounter” the way we wanted it. I was in the editing room with him, and it was heaven. We thought that this was going to be our life, we thought this would go on forever. But in 1950, 1951, the golden years were finished. We were out on the street again, and it has never been quite the same since. Although, of course, there have been some great pictures.

What had happened?

According to the Rank Organization, we were spending too much money, not a lot, but too much to get the cost back in Europe. At that time, American audiences did not like British films. We tended to blame the American companies and the American distributors who we said didn’t want our films and that is not fair. The American audiences simply didn’t like our films. In the end, Rank had to pack up because we had an overdraft at the bank of about twelve million pounds, which was a lot of money at that time, and the National Provincial Bank said, ‘You’ve got to cut two million in the next year. Otherwise, we’re going to close the Organization.’ Arthur Rank, who was a wonderful man, had to hand over the reins to his accountant, who got the overdraft down by two million because he stopped making pictures, and any theater that wasn’t doing well, was turned into a bingo hall. He finally became in full charge of the Organization. He didn’t like films, but he had to make a few more because the Rank Organization was in the hands of the Americans. They had eight hundred theaters to fill in Britain, so as a bargain, he made a few more, and I went back to them to make a little picture called “The Card” [1952] with Alec Guinness [1914-2000]. He was a wonderful and marvelous actor, but it was very difficult to get him to do anything other than what he wanted to do. Every film he made with David, they’d fight and would swear they’d never make another film together again. But of course, their films were always so good that they had to work together again; both of them realized that working together, they made wonderful films. So you’d see him in films like “Great Expectations,” in “Oliver Twist,” “Lawrence of Arabia” [1962], “Doctor Zhivago” [1965], “A Passage to India” [1984]. In the end, David fell out with him, and I don’t know if he would have made another one. He was very upset with “A Passage to India.” David, however, was one of the very best directors in the world, and he remains so in the eyes of most people. Another wonderful director at that time was Carol Reed. It seems I haven’t got a friend from that era, except for John Mills. Johnny is still there; we talk to each other on the phone. Guy Green is also still here; he was a cameraman on “In Which We Serve” [both have passed away in 2005: John Mills at age 97, director Guy Green at age 91].

Which are your favorite films that you made later on?

I would say “The Horse’s Mouth” [1958], “Tunes of Glory” [1960] and “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” [1969].

“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969, trailer)

How did you work with your actors? How did you guide them, compared to the way other legendary directors worked?

I suppose I come a little bit in the middle between Hitchcock and Carol Reed. I believe that you should get out of an actor the very best that he can give you that he feels good about. In other words, I don’t think it’s right to force an actor to play something in a way that he just does not feel comfortable with, and so if it’s going well, I tend to say, ‘That’s good. That’s good.’ I don’t go beyond that. Now, you take “Tunes of Glory,” right at the end, when Alec makes his speech about the funeral he’s going to give, the way he played that was magnificent, I think. It all came from him, from inside him. We knew we would play “Tunes of Glory” as the background music on the pipes, as the dialogue left room for the music to come and go. Alec played that last sequence so beautifully; he did one or two things I never asked him to do. A director can over direct, not if he’s brilliant, like Hitchcock or like David was. I was not that brilliant; I wanted to make certain that what Alec gave would go up there on that screen. Johnny Mills played the other part, and I said to him, ‘Johnny, whatever magic you bring to me, I will make certain it’s up there.’ And he brought magic to that part, a very tricky part. But there’s one embarrassing thing though I will remember all my life. “The Horse’s Mouth” was shown at the Venice Film Festival, which I attended that year. About halfway through the Festival, somebody from United Artists came to me and said, ‘Ronnie, Alec will be named ‘best actor.’ You must get him over here.’ So I called him in England, and said, ‘Alec, will you come over? Everybody says you are going to win; it would be wonderful if you were here.’ He said, ‘Oh no, I don’t like those things, I’m not coming.’ And, of course, he won. A couple of years later, we entered “Tunes of Glory” at the same Festival and once again, I was there. People came to me again and said, ‘Alec is going to win again, you know. This time, you got to get him over.’ So I phoned him again and said, ‘Alec, you’re going to win again, please come over this time.’ After a lot of persuasion, very grudgingly, he came over. He was unpleasant to me the entire evening when we ran the film. Well, a few days later the winners were announced and who was the ‘best actor’? John Mills! I thought, ‘What on earth am I going to do now?’ I had gotten Alec over here, and it went to Johnny! I phoned Alec, and I said, ‘I’m terribly sorry, but Johnny won the award.’ Alec said, ‘So he should, he deserved it, much more than I did.’ End of conversation. Alec could be difficult, but I loved working with this man, and I knew that whatever he said he could do as an actor, he could do. After having appeared in “Great Expectations,” he said he would like to play Phagan in “Oliver Twist.” David and I said, ‘Alec, don’t be silly, you’re thirty-four years old, how could you possibly play Phagan?’ He said, ‘Do a test with me.’ So we got him down, we made the test. He was a wonderful character to work with. I forced him into playing Marley’s Ghost in “Scrooge,” a small part, and he did it, but he never stopped complaining ever since, saying that I had persuaded him to do something he didn’t want to do. Meanwhile, Alec is gone too, sadly.

Judy Garland in the early 1940s, at the time when she was at the peak of her career | Film Talk Archive

Right before you started working on a more regular basis in the U.S., you directed Judy Garland [1922-1969] in her final film, “I Could Go On Singing” [1963], which you made in England. She was an icon in the 1930s and 1940s who had made her comeback in her previous film, Stanley Kramer’s “Judgment at Nuremberg” [1961]. So the timing was perfect to work with her?

Judy Garland was still a star when we made that film, but we had a terrible time: we had a love-hate relationship. She often had fired her directors, except for Vincente Minnelli. When I was pleasing her, I was her pussycat. But when she hated me, which was about a third of the time, she’d say, ‘Get that Goddamn British Henry Hathaway off the set!’ Henry Hathaway had a reputation of being a bully, and whenever she disliked me, she used to call me the British Henry Hathaway. But you’d never know: you’d have four or five wonderful days… thank God for Dirk Bogarde because she really loved him, and he was a great help, although it didn’t stop her from throwing her breakfast at him one morning. She tried to get me off the picture right towards the end. She once walked off the set and said she wasn’t coming back. She didn’t care about the film anymore. Arthur Krim [1910-1994] came up to me and said, ‘Ronnie, what are you going to do? She wants you to leave.’ I said, ‘I’d willingly leave, just like that, because I want to see the picture finished, but I have a feeling that it won’t get any better. Tough as it is, if you’ll stand by me, then I’ll go through it to the bitter end.’ And he said, ‘Okay, we’ll stand by you.’ That same day, this was on a Thursday, we stopped shooting for three days and sent Judy a telegram through her agent, saying that if Miss Garland wasn’t on the set the following Monday—which was at the London Palladium, where she had to do her last song—we will cancel the picture and we will sue her. I had to take that chance, hoping she would be there. I called a thousand extras at the London Palladium, and they were all there by nine o’clock on Monday morning, but no Judy. I had three cameras, and by ten o’clock I turned the cameras around on the audience, and I played Judy to the audience, I did all the movements, miming to her voice, and got all the crowd reactions. I had that done by about 11:30.

But still no Judy Garland?

At twelve o’clock Judy comes in, the make-up man I think, asked me, ‘What do you want her to do?’ I said, ‘Tell her to get ready and come to the set, I’ll take her through the song.’ She apparently said, ‘Ronnie’s gonna teach me how to sing??’ Anyway, at about half past twelve, I took her through the movements, and she said, ‘That’s all right, pussycat, let’s do it.’ And she was great! We were out of the theater at six o’clock, and for the rest of the film, she behaved beautifully. Afterwards she did a long sequence—about six minutes—which was so much like her in real life, the scene where Dirk goes to rescue her from the hospital. It was a very intimate scene, so close. So I planned to start on her as a sort of me figure, and very slowly, as the scene developed, come into a waste figure. Then at a certain point, halfway through, cut, and I would do the rest in close shots. As we came in, the close shots would get bigger and bigger. So we started the first shot, which was supposed to end halfway through. As the scene went on, I realized more and more that something magical was happening. It was no longer the character from the film, it was Judy being herself. The dialogue was more or less the same, and Dirk, such a fine actor, adjusted to her dialogue. When we were a third of the way through, I knew that something was happening that I’d never get again because the tears were streaming down her face and it was so genuine; there was no acting about it. We were on a dolly track, and I went like this to the man who was pushing the camera, that he’d continue to move in closer and Dirk, who was so intuitive, realized what I was doing, so he got in closer to Judy. And then, horror of horrors, a little light on the top of the camera, which was for her eyes, started to burn up as we got closer in. The cameraman signaled to the chief electrician and slid something very slowly in front of this little lamp so that it didn’t destroy the scene. We shot it, and it went on for, I suppose, six minutes. At the end of it, there was nothing I could do but say, ‘That was magnificent. Print.’ We never cut into the close shots. That was the magic of this woman; despite everything—and God, she put me through some hell—we loved her very much. My wife once asked me, ‘How can you like Judy after all the things she tried to do to you?’ I said, ‘Well, we can’t help it, but we all do, the whole unit.’ And at the end of the film, we were doing a last close shot of her at the Shepperton Studios, a very simple sequence with only two or three lines of dialogue that I wanted to cut into another sequence that we had already shot. After the third take, it was excellent, and I said, ‘That’s it, Judy darling, that’s really it.’ She looked at me, she looked around at the whole unit, and she looked back at me again, and she said, ‘You’ll miss me when I’m gone.’ And she walked away. We were all in tears, she just had this way, and we missed her—my goodness, we missed her. I tried to put it down in my autobiography, but you can’t really get anywhere near what this experience was like.

How did you handle the camera as a cinematographer and as a director?

I probably am a bit old-fashioned, but I was brought up in a school that said, ‘There is no camera.’ We moved our camera all the time, we zoomed and all that, we all disguised the camera movements. If I wanted to get from you to say someone over there in close shot, and I wanted to do it without cutting, then I’d pass in front of you, I’d go with him, and I’d be on a new person, and he would not be aware of the camera. Also, there are some basic rules that I know should be kept; if you’re shooting a long sequence with characters that are real, you’re working closer as the drama builds. Then, when you get to the high point of the drama, you’re in a close shot. What they do today is they’ll start on a long shot, and they’ll track in a little bit. Then, for no reason at all, they’ll cut to a close shot like that, and another one like that, then they’ll come to a medium shot and drop all the tension, drop the drama. They cut at the wrong moment. Up to a point, I don’t understand it; it’s not any longer there is no camera, it’s I am a camera. That is why you get the camera all over the place. There’s now a machine by the way which will turn a steady shot into a shaky one, so it looks that you are filming with a handheld camera. I just don’t think that’s right. I don’t think the camera should intrude; the director should not intrude, he should not want to star in his own film. Because of David’s enormous talent, you’ll always remember a David Lean film, but he never tried to shine, he never tried to show off, he never tried to do any stunts with the camera. There are obviously occasions when you do an action picture, you shoot with handy held cameras to make it look like something that is really happening, but when it’s a story of characters, then you shouldn’t push the camera down the audience’s throat. Do you remember this scene with Judy, talking to this boy who’s her son, when they’re parting for the last time? I had planned to shoot the sequence between her and the boy who’s in the telephone booth: I wanted to cut to the boy, cut to her, stay with her, cut to the boy, like that. We did her sequence after we had shot the boy. So we started filming, she was in bed and began her long speech to which the boy responds and, again, the magic arrived. I tracked in and didn’t cut away at all; I didn’t go to the boy, I could not leave her because she was so good. So I stayed right with her, and that was the way it should have been. It would have ruined it to have cut away from her. Filmmakers today have lost that a little bit.

Two-time Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson playing the role of Isobel in Ronald Neame’s comedy “Hopscotch” (1980) | Film Talk Archive

If you look back and see what you’ve done and have achieved over the years, you’re a Jack of all trades, aren’t you?

I have done everything, and that’s a tremendous help; I have been an editor, a cameraman, a producer, and a director. So I know I’m a very good Jack of all trades. I think that if a producer-director team works well together, it is wonderful. My partnership with David during the early years, right up until “Great Expectations,” we worked this close together. We’d take what we had written to Noel Coward, and he’d say, ‘Which of my two little darlings wrote this brilliant Coward dialogue?’ Both of us could write his dialogue, we knew him so well. Sometimes he’d give us a little scene and said, ‘Now, get out your pencils!’ He’d walk up and down the room and would dictate the dialogue of the scene, just like that! Noel was brilliant and underestimated as an important entity in theater primarily, but also in film, I think. Another thing, cameramen don’t always make good directors: one of the reasons I think is they want pretty pictures, they want it to look beautiful, they want the best composition photographically. I never hung on to that; I wanted the camera to be where I could show the actor to the best advantage. That’s partly why Maggie Smith won an Oscar for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and why Alec Guinness was awarded. When I started directing, I chose a cameraman that I knew so I could be happy with the result, people like Guy Green and Ossie Morris. They did exactly what I would have done, so I didn’t have to worry about that. The actors were most important to me; some could be very difficult. I wouldn’t know what makes someone a star, but it is something very special, something unique.

“The Poseidon Adventure” [1972], a wonderfully made and commercial blockbuster, is most definitely not the highlight in your career?

All I can say is that “The Poseidon Adventure” is not my favorite film; in fact, I thought that it would come and go in a few months. But on the other hand, it is my favorite film because it made more money than all the rest of my films put together—and a lot more on top of that. It really should be called ‘the film that nearly never was’ [laughs]. A year or two earlier, I made a picture with Cinema Center Films called “Scrooge,” a musical with Albert Finney, and a year later, Gordon Stulberg, the president of the company at that time, called me from New York and said, ‘Ronnie, are you busy?’ I said, ‘At the moment, not really.’ ‘I have just become president of 20th Century Fox, and I have inherited a picture that’s in real trouble. The director has walked out on the producer; the sets are all built and ready to go. The producer has cast several stars, but the script is no good, and I have to do something about it. I would like to meet you tomorrow evening at the airport in New York. Will you come and rescue me?’ This man was concerned about this one picture; a lot of money had been spent already. And so I put a few clothes together and flew immediately to New York where I met him. Together we came out here in Los Angeles, and the following morning, I met producer Irwin Allen at 20th. Gradually we became good friends. For six weeks, I worked with him on the final script with Stirling Silliphant which we thought was all right—neither of us thought it was the greatest thing we were ever going to do, but it looked presentable. Two days later, Gordon Stulberg told us, ‘I have bad news for you. We are not going to make that picture, we’ll cancel it.’ He said that two of his readers thought the film would be a disaster, which was a good name for it [laughs]. We pleaded with him to think it over, bearing in mind a lot of money had been spent already. Then [producer] Irwin Allen did something I will always admire him for, the kind of thing any good producer would do. He was a member of the Hillcrest Club, which is right here in Beverly Hills. He went over there and found two very wealthy friends who were playing gin rummy. Irwin said to them, ‘Look, I’m in trouble. Will you two guarantee two and a half million dollars for me to make “The Poseidon Adventure”? In other words, if it doesn’t get its cost back, will you guarantee me that amount of money?’ And they said, ‘Oh Irwin, yes, we’ll guarantee you that money, go away, we’re playing gin rummy, and that’s more important to us.’ That same evening, at six o’clock, we went to see Gordon, and he said, ‘Well, it’s nice to talk to the two of you, but I haven’t really changed my mind.’ Then Irwin said, ‘Gordon, the film is only going to cost five million. If I got a two and a half million guarantee from outside, will Fox go in for the other two and a half million?’ Then Gordon said, ‘Oh, that’s different, I’d do that.’ Then Irwin and I sat down. And so, he let the film go ahead, and it cost exactly five million. The two gentlemen that guaranteed the money never put their hands in their pocket; they never came to the studio, they never knew anything about it until the preview and in between, their estates have made millions and millions on “The Poseidon Adventure.” I just got a tiny bit of the profit [laughs], but sufficient to make my life reasonably okay.

Sean Connery, Ronald Neame, Joseph Campanella, and Karl Malden on the set of “Meteor” (1979) | Film Talk Archive

You also had a wonderful cast.

When we shot it, the cast was a tremendous help to me. They all went through everything themselves. There were no doubles—Shelley Winters did her own swimming scene. She was a perfect swimmer, she was a lifesaver. She did the part simply because she wanted to do that sequence. All of them, Gene Hackman, Red Buttons, Stella Stevens, Carol Lynley, were all very helpful. At the end of it, I thought it was all right. I went back to England, and had to start working on “The Odessa File.” Three weeks later, Gordon Stulberg phoned me and he said, ‘Ronnie, you would be astonished!’ And I thought, ‘The reviews were dreadful, the critics ripped it to pieces.’ But Gordon said, ‘I don’t care about the critics. The picture is going to make millions and millions.’ And it did; at the cost of five million, it grossed about two hundred million. I enjoyed making it, although it is not my kind of film. I would never have made it if it weren’t for Gordon, who asked me to come over and help him out of the difficulties. Having worked on the script for six weeks, it was probably better to be made than not to be made, especially when everything was built, constructed and ready. After that, I was offered only disaster films. Everybody thought I was the king of disaster movies [laughs]. Since then I made films like “The Odessa File” [1974], “Meteor” [1979]—an unhappy experience for all concerned—and a few pictures with Walter Matthau, “Hopscotch” [1980] and “First Monday in October” [1981] which I loved but didn’t do any business, and I guess I felt there wasn’t any room for my kind of picture. If only television had realized at that time what a wonderful market they are for the intimate film, if only at that time they had spent a little money—they only wanted four cameras and shoot the whole thing in three days, that’s it. That’s why I never went into television; I would have been fired after the second day for being a day behind.

Don’t you think you are underrated as a director?

I think so, but for better or for worse, I saved “The Poseidon Adventure.” It also saved Fox; they would have been in real trouble. The film is an Irwin Allen production, which is fine. I don’t object to that. But it was supposed to be a Ronald Neame film, immediately after the title, and Irwin had my name put down after the cast. He also did some second unit work, and whenever he did a few shots second unit, he always made sure a camera crew was there, photographing him, filming him. He gave the impression that he did everything. That was so unfair. I made “Scrooge” [1970] with Albert Finney, nobody really knows that, and “Tunes of Glory,” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” and “The Horse’s Mouth”—most of the credit went to Guinness, and rightly so, with beautiful, impeccable performances—my credits are there, but I always had a low profile. It is astonishing to me that at the end of next month, they are running six of my pictures at the Egyptian Theater here in Hollywood. The idea that six films I directed, most of them about thirty and forty years old—one of them was made fifty years ago—are being shown here in the center of Hollywood where they had the premiere of “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972. I’m proud that the films did hold up.

Beverly Hills, California
March 6, 2003

+ Mr. Neame passed away in Los Angeles on June 16, 2010, at age 99, after complications from a fall.

“I Could Go On Singing” (1963, trailer)


BLACKMAIL (1929) DIR Alfred Hitchcock PROD John Maxwell SCR Alfred Hitchcock, Benn W. Levy, Charles Bennett (play ‘Blackmail’ [1929] by Charles Bennett, adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock) ASST CAM Ronald Neame CAST Anny Ondra, Sara Allgood, Charles Paton, John Longden, Donald Calthrop

HAPPY (1933) DIR – PROD Frederic Zelnick SCR Stanley Lupino, Arthur B. Woods, Frank Launder, Austin Melford (play ‘Es War Einmal Ein Musikus’ by Alfred Hahm, Jacques Bachrach) CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene, Bryan Langley CAST Stanley Lupino, Laddie Cliff, Will Fyffe, Dorothy Hyson, Harry Tate

GIVE HER A RING (1934) DIR Arthur B. Woods PROD Arthur B. Woods, Walter C. Mycroft SCR Marjorie Deans, Clifford Grey, Wolfgang Wilhelm CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene CAST Wendy Barrie, Bertha Belmore, Olive Blakeney, Syd Crossley, Jimmy Godden

GIRLS WILL BE BOYS (1934) DIR Marcel Varnel PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Curt Siodmak, Roger Burford, Clifford Grey (story by Robert Siodmak) CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene CAST Dolly Haas, Cyril Maude, Esmond Knight, Irene Vanburgh, Edward Chapman, Ronald Ward

JOY RIDE (1935) DIR Harry Hughes PROD Basil Humphrys SCR Vernon Harris CAM Ronald Neame CAST Gene Gerrard, Zelma O’Neal, Betty Ann Davies, Paul Blake, Gus McNaughton

WEEKEND MILLIONAIRE (1935) DIR Arthur B. Woods PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Jack Davies, Geoffrey Kerr, Max Kester CAM Ronald Neame, Ernest Steward CAST Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Mary Brian, W. H. Berry, John Harwood, Norah Gale, Billy Milton, Terry-Thomas

HONOURS EASY (1935) DIR Herbert Brenon PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Roland Pertwee, Norman Watson (play by Roland Pertwee) CAM Ronald Neame, Bryan Langley CAST W. H. Berry, Chili Bouchier, George Graves, Patric Knowles, Margaret Lockwood, Greta Nissen

MUSIC HATH CHARMS (1935) DIR Thomas Bentley PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Jack Davies, Courtney Terrett CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene, Jack E. Cox CAST Henry Hall, W. H. Berry, Carol Goodner, Arthur Margetson, Lorna Hubbard

INVITATION TO THE WALTZ (1935) DIR Paul Merzbach PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Paul Merzbach, Clifford Grey, Roger Burford (play by Eric Maschwitz) CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene CAST Lillian Harvey, Wendy Toye, Carl Esmond, Harold Warrender, Richard Bird, Esme Percy

DRAKE OF ENGLAND (1935) DIR Arthur B. Woods PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Clifford Grey, Norman Watson, Marjorie Deans, Akos Tolnay (play by Louis N. Parker) CAM Ronald Neame, Claude Friese-Greene CAST Matheson Lang, Athene Seyler, Jane Baxter, Henry Mollison, Ben Webster, Donald Wolfit

THE IMPROVER DUCHESS (1936) DIR Harry Hughes PROD Maurice Browne SCR Harry Hughes, Vernon Harris (play by James B. Fagan) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Yvonne Arnaud, Hugh Wakefield, Wilfrid Caithness, Arthur Finn, Gerald Barry

A STAR FELL FROM HEAVEN (1936) DIR Paul Merzbach PROD Walter C. Mycroft SCR Val Guest, Dudley Leslie, Jack Davies, Marjorie Deans, Geoffrey Kerr CAM Ronald Neame CAST Joseph Schmidt, Florine McKinney, Billy Milton, W. H. Berry, George Graves, Steven Geray

THE CRIMES OF STEPHEN HAWKE (1936) DIR George King SCR Jack Celestin, Paul White, H. F. Maltby CAM Ronald Neame CAST Tod Slaughter, Marjorie Taylor, D. J. Williams, Eric Portman, Ben Soutton

KEEP FIT (1937) DIR Anthony Kimmins PROD Basil Dean, Jack Kitchin SCR Anthony Kimmins, Austin Melford CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Kay Walsh, Guy Middleton, Edmund Breon, Leo Franklyn, Evelyn Roberts

CAFÉ COLLETTE (1937) DIR Paul L. Stein SCR Val Valentine, Eric Maschwitz, Katherine Strueby (story by Val Gielgud, Walford Hyden) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Paul Cavanagh, Greta Nissen, Sally Gray, Bruce Seton, Paul Blake

FEATHER YOUR NEST (1937) DIR William Beaudine PROD Basil Dean SCR Anthony Kimmins, Austin Melford, Robert Edmunds (story by Ivar Campbell, Sheila Campbell) CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Polly Ward, Val Rosing, Ethel Coleridge, Moore Marriott

AGAINST THE TIDE (1937) DIR Alex Bryce PROD – SCR Victor M. Greene CAM Ronald Neame CAST Herbert Cameron, Neil Carlton, Robert Cochran, Jimmy Mageean, Cathleen Nesbitt

BRIEF ECSTASY (1937) DIR Edmond T. Gréville PROD Hugh Perceval SCR Basil Mason CAM Ronald Neame CAST Paul Lukas, Hugh Williams, Linden Travers, Marie Ney, Renee Gadd, Fred Withers

THE WARE CASE (1938) DIR Robert Stevenson PROD S. C. Balcon, Michael Balcon SCR Robert Stevenson, Roland Pertwee (play ‘The Ware Case’ [1915] by George Pleydell Bancroft) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Glen Alyn, Barry K. Barnes, Jane Baxter, Clive Brook, Peter Bull, Frank Cellier

WHAT GOES NEXT? (1938) DIR Maurice Elvey PROD Ivor McLaren SCR David Evans, Lawrence Green CAM Ronald Neame CAST Barry K. Barnes, Sophie Stewart, Jack Hawkins, Charles Eaton, Andrew Osborn

PENNY PARADISE (1938) DIR Carol Reed PROD Basil Dean, Jack Kitchin SCR W. L. Meade, Thomas Thompson, Thomas Browne (story by Basil Dean) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Edmund Gwenn, Betty Driver, Jimmy O’Dea, Ethel Coleridge, Maire O’Neill

SECOND THOUGHTS (1938) DIR Albert Parker SCR David Evans CAM Ronald Neame CAST Frank Allenby, Evelyn Ankers, A. Bromley Davenport, Marjorie Fielding, Frank Fox

IT’S IN THE AIR (1938) DIR Anthony Kimmins PROD Basil Dean SCR Anthony Kimmins CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Polly Ward, Jack Hobbs, Julien Mitchell, Garry Marsh

I SEE ICE (1938) DIR Anthony Kimmins SCR Anthony Kimmins, Austin Melford CAM Ronald Neame, Gordon Dines CAST George Formby, Kay Walsh, Betty Stockfeld, Cyril Ritchard, Frank Leighton, Roddy McDowall

TROUBLE BREWING (1939) DIR Anthony Kimmins PROD Jack Kitchin SCR Anthony Kimmins, Michael Hogan, Angus MacPhail CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Googie Withers, Gus McNaughton, Garry Marsh, C. Denier Warren, Beatrix Fielden-Kaye

CHEER BOYS CHEER (1939) DIR Walter Forde PROD S. C. Balcon SCR Roger MacDougall, Allan MacKinnon (story by Ian Dalrymple, Donald Bull) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Nova Pilbeam, Edmund Gwenn, Jimmy O’Dea, Moore Marriott, Graham Moffatt, C. V. France

COME ON, GEORGE (1939) DIR Anthony Kimmins PROD Jack Kitchin SCR Anthony Kimmins, Leslie Arliss, Val Valentine CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Patricia Kirkwood, Joss Ambler, Meriel Forbes, Cyril Raymond

THE FOUR JUST MEN (1939) DIR Walter Forde PROD S. C. Balcon SCR Angus MacPhail, Roland Pertwee, Sergei Nolbandov (novel by Edgar Wallace) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Edward Chapman, Arthur Hambling, Griffith Jones, Frank Lawton, Anna Lee, Eliot Makeham

LET’S BE FAMOUS (1939) DIR Walter Forde PROD Michael Balcon SCR Roger MacDougall, Allan MacKinnon CAM Ronald Neame, Gordon Dines CAST Patrick Barr, Franklyn Bellamy, Jimmy O’Dea, Milton Rosmer, Sonnie Hale

YOUNG MAN’S FANCY (1939) DIR Robert Stevenson PROD S. C. Balcon SCR Roland Pertwee (story by Robert Stevenson) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Griffith Jones, Anna Lee, Seymour Hicks, Billy Bennett, Edward Rigby, Francis L. Sullivan

RETURN TO YESTERDAY (1940) DIR Robert Stevenson PROD S. C. Balcon SCR Robert Stevenson, Angus MacPhail, Roland Pertwee, Margaret Kennedy (play ‘Goodness How Sad!’ [1937] by Robert Morley) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Clive Brook, Anna Lee, Dame May Whitty, Hartley Power, Milton Rosmer

SALOON BAR (1940) DIR Walter Forde PROD Culley Forde SCR John Dighton, Angus MacPhail (play ‘Saloon Bar’ by Frank Harvey) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Elizabeth Allan, Felix Aylmer, Joyce Barbour, Judy Campbell, O. B. Clarence, Alec Clunes

LET GEORGE DO IT (1940) DIR Marcel Varnel PROD Michael Balcon SCR Basil Dearden, Austin Melford, John Dighton, Angus MacPhail CAM Ronald Neame CAST George Formby, Phyllis Calvert, Garry Marsh, Romney Brent, Bernard Lee, Coral Browne

MAJOR BARBARA (1941) DIR – PROD Gabriel Pascal SCR Anatole de Grunwald, George Bernard Shaw (play ‘Major Barbara’ [1905] by George Bernard Shaw) CAM Ronald Neame CAST Wendy Hiller, Rex Harrison, Robert Morley, Robert Newton, Sybil Thorndike, Emlyn Williams, Marie Lohr

A YANK IN THE R.A.F. (1941) DIR Henry King PROD Darryl F. Zanuck, Louis F. Edelman SCR Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware (story by Darryl F. Zanuck) CAM OPERATOR Ronald Neame CAST Tyrone Power, Betty Grabe, John Sutton, Reginald Gardiner, Donald Stuart, Ralph Byrd

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942) DIR – SCR Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger PROD Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, John Corfield CAM Ronald Neame CAST Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Bernard Miles, Hugh Burden, Peter Ustinov

IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942) DIR David Lean, Noel Coward PROD – SCR Noel Coward CAM Ronald Neame CAST Noel Coward, John Mills, Bernard Miles, Celia Johnson, Ann Stephens, Daniel Massey, Kay Walsh, Michael Wilding

THIS HAPPY BREED (1944) DIR David Lean PROD Noel Coward SCR (play ‘This Happy Breed’ [1939] by Noel Coward; adaptation by Ronald Neame, David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan) CAST Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills, Kay Walsh, Stanley Holloway, Amy Veness

BLITHE SPIRIT (1945) DIR David Lean PROD Noel Coward SCR Ronald Neame, David Lean, Noel Coward, Anthony Havelock-Allan (play ‘Blithe Spirit’ [1941] by Noel Coward) CAST Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford, Hugh Wakefield

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945) DIR David Lean PROD Ronald Neame, Noel Coward, Anthony Havelock-Allan SCR Ronald Neame, David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan (all uncredited) (adaptation by Noel Coward, based on his play ‘Still Life’ [1935-36]) CAST Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) DIR David Lean PROD Ronald Neame SCR (novel ‘Great Expectations’ [1861] by Charles Dickens; adaptation by Ronald Neame, David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Kay Walsh, Cecil McGivern) CAST John Mills, Anthony Wager, Valerie Hobson, Jean Simmons, Alec Guinness

TAKE MY LIFE (1947) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Anthony Havelock-Allan SCR Winston Graham, Valerie Taylor, Margaret Kennedy CAST Hugh Williams, Greta Gynt, Marius Goring, Francis L. Sullivan, Henry Edwards.

OLIVER TWIST (1948) DIR David Lean PROD Ronald Neame SCR David Lean, Stanley Haynes (novel ‘Oliver Twist’ [1838] by Charles Dickens) CAST Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Francis L. Sullivan, John Howard Davies, Anthony Newley, Diana Dors

THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (1949) DIR David Lean PROD Ronald Neame SCR Eric Ambler (novel ‘The Passionate Friends: A Novel’ [1913] by H. G. Wells; adaptation by David Lean, Stanley Haynes) CAST Ann Todd, Claude Rains, Trevor Howard, Betty Ann Davies, Isabel Dean

THE MAGIC BOX (1951) DIR John Boulting PROD Ronald Neame SCR Eric Ambler (biography ‘Friese-Greene, Close-Up of an Inventor’ [1948] by Ray Allister [Muriel Forth]) CAST Robert Donat, Margaret Johnston, Maria Schell, Renée Asherson, Richard Attenborough, Robert Beatty, Stanley Holloway, Bessie Love, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Ustinov, Kay Walsh

THE GOLDEN SALAMANDER (1951) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Alexander Galperson SCR Ronald Neame, Leslie Storm, Victor Canning (novel by Victor Canning) CAST Trevor Howard, Anouk Aimée, Herbert Lom, Walter Rilla, Miles Malleson, Wilfrid Hyde-White

THE CARD, US title: THE PROMOTOR (1952) DIR Ronald Neame PROD John Bryan SCR Eric Ambler (novel ‘The Card’ [1911] by Arnold Bennett) CAST Alec Guinness, Glynis Johns, Valerie Hobson, Petula Clark, Edward Chapman, Veronica Turleigh

MAN WITH A MILLION, UK title: THE MILLION POUND NOTE (1953) DIR Ronald Neame PROD John Bryan SCR Jill Craigie (short story by Mark Twain) CAST Gregory Peck, Jane Griffiths, Joyce Grenfell, A. E. Matthews, Reginald Beckwith

THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1956) DIR Ronald Neame PROD André Hakim SCR Nigel Balchin (novel ‘The Man Who Never Was’ [1953] by Ewen Montagu) CAST Cornel Wilde, Gloria Grahame, Robert Flemyng, Josephine Griffin, Stephen Boyd, Laurence Naismith

WISDOM’S WAY (1957) DIR Ronald Neame PROD John Bryan SCR Jill Craigie (novel by James Ramsey Ullman) CAST Peter Finch, Mary Ure, Natasha Parry, Robert Flemyng, Michael Hordern

THE SEVENTH SIN (1957) DIR Ronald Neame, Vincente Minnelli [uncredited] PROD David Lewis SCR Karl Tunberg (novel ‘The Painted Veil’ [1925] by William Somerset Maugham) CAST Eleanor Parker, Jean-Pierre Aumont, George Sanders, Bill Travers, Françoise Rosay, Ellen Corby

THE HORSE’S MOUTH (1958) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Ronald Neame, John Bryan SCR Alec Guinness (novel ‘The Horse’s Mouth’ [1944] by Joyce Cary) CAST Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan, Robert Coote

TUNES OF GLORY (1960) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Colin Lesslie SCR James Kennaway (also novel ‘Tunes of Glory’ [1956]) CAST Alec Guinness, John Mills, Dennis Price, Kay Walsh, John Fraser, Susannah York

ESCAPE FROM ZAHREIN (1962) DIR – PROD Ronald Neame SCR Robert Estridge (story by Michael Barrett) CAST Yul Brynner, Anthony Caruso, Sal Mineo, Jay Novallo, Jack Warden

I COULD GO ON SINGING (1963) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Lawrence Turman, Saul Chaplin SCR Mayo Simon (story by Robert Dozier) CAST Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde, Jack Klugman, Aline MacMohan, Gregory Phillips

THE CHALK GARDEN (1964) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Ross Hunter SCR John Michael Hayes (play ‘The Chalk Garden’ [1955] by Enid Bagnold) CAST Deborah Kerr, John Mills, Hayley Mills, Edith Evans, Felix Aylmer

MISTER MOSES (1965) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Frank Ross SCR Charles Beaumont, Monja Danichewsky (novel ‘Mister Moses’ [1961] by Max Catto) CAST Robert Mitchum, Carroll Baker, Ian Bannen, Alexander Knox, Raymond St. Jacques

A MAN COULD GET KILLED (1966) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Robert Arthur SCR Richard L. Breen, T. E. B. Clarke (novel ‘Diamonds for Danger’ by David E. Walker) CAST James Garner, Melina Mercouri, Sandra Dee, Anthony Franciosa , Robert Coote, Jenny Agutter

GAMBIT (1966) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Leo L. Fuchs SCR Jack Davies, Alvin Sargent (story by Sidney Carroll) CAST Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Herbert Lom, Roger C. Carmel, Arnold Moss

PRUDENCE AND THE PILL (1968) DIR Ronald Neame, Fielder Cook PROD Kenneth Harper, Ronald Kahn SCR Hugh Mills (also novel) CAST Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Robert Coote, Irina Demick, Joyce Redman, Judy Geeson

THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (1969) DIR Ronald Neame PROD James Cresson, Robert Fryer SCR Jay Presson Allen (novel ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ [1961] by Muriel Spark) CAST Maggie Smith, Robert Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Gordon Jackson, Celia Johnson

SCROOGE (1970) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Robert H. Solo SCR Leslie Bricusse, Michael Medwin (novel by Charles Dickens) CAST Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, Kenneth Moore, Paddy Stone

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Irwin Allen SCR Wendell Mayes, Stirling Silliphant (novel ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ [1969] by Paul Gallico) CAST Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters

THE ODESSA FILE (1974) DIR Ronald Neame PROD John Woolf SCR Kenneth Ross, George Markstein (novel ‘The Odessa File’ [1972] by Frederick Forsyth) CAST John Voight, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell, Mary Tamm, Derek Jacobi, Peter Jeffrey

METEOR (1979) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Arnold H. Orgolini, Theodore R. Parvin, Run Run Shaw SCR Edmund H. North, Stanley Mann (story by Edmund H. North) CAST Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Richard A. Dysart, Henry Fonda, Ronald Neame (British Representative)

HOPSCOTCH (1980) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Otto Plaschkes SCR Bryan Forbes (novel ‘Hopscotch’ [1975] by Brian Garfield) CAST Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom, David Matthau

FIRST MONDAY IN OCTOBER (1981) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Paul M. Heller, Martha Scott SCR Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee (play ‘First Monday in October’ by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee) CAST Walter Matthau, Jill Clayburgh, Barnard Hughes, Jan Sterling, James Stephens, Joshua Bryant

FOREIGN BODY (1986) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Colin M. Brewer SCR Céline La Frenière (novel ‘Foreign Body’ [1975] by Roderick Mann) CAST Victor Banerjee, Warren Mitchell, Geraldine McEwan, Dennis Quilley, Amanda Donohue, Trevor Howard

THE MAGIC BALLOON (1990) DIR Ronald Neame PROD Peter Beale SCR Ronald Neame, Peter Beale, Sarah Paris CAST Henry Gibson, Lynn Kim, Frank Langella, Mari Yoshino

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Straight from the Horse’s Mouth (2003), The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, Maryland, publisher