Alexander Mackendrick

b. September 8, 1912, Boston, USA
d. December 22, 1993, Los Angeles, USA

articles in Senses
web resources

Alexander Mackendrick was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1912 and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. In the 1930s, as an art director for the J. Walter Thompson Advertising firm, he designed layouts for a variety of clients including Phillips in Eindhoven, where he worked with George Pal, the Hungarian animator. When the war in Europe broke out, J. Walter Thompson acquired the Ministry of Information as a client to work on propaganda related projects.

In 1941 Mackendrick was sent to North Africa, then Italy as part of the psychological warfare division shooting newsreels and documentary coverage as well as working on leaflets and radio news for the Allied commando effort. When Rome was liberated in 1943, Mackendrick was made director of the film unit and one of the projects he approved was Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945), a film that owes much to its documentary footage. In 1946 he was offered a contract with Ealing Studios, a relatively emerging production company that brought hope for Britain’s movie culture by dominating the 1950s with its peculiar brand of comedy.

At the time, British cinema was an unremarkable byproduct of the documentary movement of the 1930s and consisted mostly of literary adaptations. Some comedies were popular, particularly those starring George Formby and other vaudeville mainstays. The wartime population regarded other movies – those incorporating realist techniques from the documentary movement – with sober acceptance. This naturalistic but dull style hindered any progress in the cinema’s evolution.

The caveat of the documentary form, as Raymond Durgnat explains in his analysis of British cinema, A Mirror For England, was in the failure of “contacting the experiences of the common man which it fondly imagines it reveres” (1). This stiff upper lip attitude to movies did little to gauge interest home and abroad. The current pictures became complicit in the idea to stick to some kind of rigid formality, and at the same time sought admiration for its accomplishments of ornamental style, which was merely competent. Exceptions to the rule were the films by producers J. Arthur Rank, Alexander Korda, and director Anthony Asquith, all of whom were indebted to the glamour, technical expertise, and financial acumen of the Hollywood studio system. The most glaring weakness for the British though, was the general unawareness of the cinema’s potential. The films that resulted were those not bred out of any sort of creative or narrative innovation but instead were emotionally inhibited and mediocre. It was a period of overwhelming stagnation for British movies, and one urgent for change.

What Ealing Studios brought in was quiet revolution. Films at Ealing were carefully guided under Michael Balcon, the head of production, who exercised authority with a trusting, liberal generosity that challenged the weak traditions of previous filmmaking. The studio was increasingly becoming known for its collegiate atmosphere and democratic, round table conferences that Balcon held, where ideas would be greeted with a kind of paternal affection.

“There are about half a dozen people who claim responsibility for [Mackendrick’s arrival at Ealing]” (2), Mackendrick’s wife Hilary maintains, yet it seems the circumstances were just of chance. His first job at Ealing was as designer of ‘set-ups’, or more detailed storyboards that included the characters in proportion to the framing of shots. He then moved on to fully storyboarding and cowriting Saraband for Dead Lovers (Basil Dearden, 1948), along with working on additional dialogue and directing the second unit on The Blue Lamp (Dearden, 1949). In 1948, he was offered a chance to direct the unusual comedy Whisky Galore!. Mackendrick’s contribution to Ealing would prove enormous, even if his track record of films would be less so.

Whisky Galore!

Whisky Galore! (1949), an ensemble comedy that focuses on the moral obligations of a tiny Scottish village after a steamer crashes on shore leaving an unguarded cargo of whisky, was both a British and international success. Soon Ealing, aided by Mackendrick, was well on its way to leading the revival of the national cinema. The story fit within the studio formula of an eccentric group dealing with an extraordinary situation, and its unassuming humor benefits from the peculiarities of its townsfolk. Particularly from the pompous naivety of the English Captain Waggett (Basil Radford) who declares himself as the voice of reason and attempts to stop the town from raiding the ship.

Mackendrick’s first picture acknowledged recent naturalist trends and methods. The first Ealing film to be shot on location on the isolated island of Barra, a documentary-style approach captures the villagers in daily routine: farming, working around the house, congregating at the local pub. Once a shortage of whisky occurs, the town plunges into desperation, and the bucolic Scottish tranquility is shattered by a cry of “There is no whisky!”.

Notions of tradition and propriety, however, prevent the townsfolk from turning into a violent mob and overthrowing Waggett. The community created here, echoing touches of John Ford, becomes united in custom and activity. The whisky is subsequently recovered, and they work together with crafty strategies to dupe the Englishman. In a montage that shows Mackendrick’s predilection for Russian influences, various people – old men, women, youngsters – hide their contraband in any possible place, even using a bassinet as decoy. And despite an unthreatening, folksy insouciance, they are determined to undermine the noble and pointless intentions of Waggett, with his pathetic attempts to maintain legal obedience.

The stuffy Englishman serves as representative and outlet for Mackendrick’s concerns; he warrants sympathy despite priggishness, and is idealistic about the underbelly of human nature. Waggett’s conflict with the town threatens his ideals and challenges his values. He believes the community to be good and honest, but is dreadfully naive for his inexperience among them. Yet even if he is unaware of the town’s needs, and is a ridiculous boob, he is crushingly sincere in his actions. Whisky Galore!, then, becomes a quaint fable of temptation and foolishness.

The Man In The White Suit

Mackendrick’s second film, The Man In The White Suit (1951), is the best of his Ealing comedies. A scientist currently working as a lab janitor discovers the formula for an indestructible type of fiber but finds himself under opposition from both the unions and executives of the textile industry. The story, based on a play written by Mackendrick’s cousin Roger MacDougall, owes little to its source material. The issue that the director was concerned with was the polemics of industry and its responsibilities. The result is a deeply pessimistic portrait that challenges values and obligations of business and society, and is not so much a light comedy as a cautionary tale to the excess of idealism. Before facing white and blue collar opposing forces, the inventor, Sidney (Alec Guinness), is initially keen on the benefits of his discovery. Like the naive Waggett in Whisky Galore!, the consequences of one character’s inexperience results in changes that affect the whole community.

Stylistically, the movie pays small homage to Fritz Lang, and is strikingly photographed by frequent collaborator Douglas Slocombe. Sidney whips through dark alleyways, wearing the pristine suit, and several union members dirtily paw at it, the expressionist claustrophobia apparent. Stony black-suited monolithic executives also hover over him throughout the film, observing his moves with a jealous superiority reminiscent of the vigilante jury from M (1931).

The casting of Alec Guinness as Sidney was a coup for Mackendrick, as his indistinctive appearance permits him to be regarded more as a vehicle of idealism, untouched by pressures of consumer society. The austere businessmen of the textile industry portray a ripe parody of establishment as fatuous capitalists. They are afraid of change and attempt to hold on to legacy and tradition; essentially, the crumbling facade of English imperialism. But even Sidney, maladroit and innocent, is doomed to failure. His priorities shift throughout the picture: idealism turns into opportunity and action, reality becomes experience, but he remains ambiguous.

The characters however, are never polar opposites, and only divide in matters of personal ethics. Sidney, Mackendrick emphasized, is not “pure” (3), and is as devious and self-interested as the industry men who try to stop him. This is the most destructive quality of his innocence. He doesn’t have the experience of the executives to realize the effect on the community. Perhaps it is his childlike approach to the situation that warrants sympathy, and a quest for some kind of absolute. But there is no universal answer. The result becomes cynicism and frustration in the mechanics of a comedy. Mackendrick’s next picture, and only Ealing ‘non-comedy’ was equally important.


Mandy (1952), the story of a young deaf girl that refuses to learn and disrupts the structure of her family life, could have easily been treated with mawkish simplicity of a soap opera. But it is a moving story and a melodrama portending the director’s future work with children. The movie has a documentary core and strives for authenticity. Along with the sound editor Stephen Dalby, Mackendrick devised a technique of ‘subjective non-sound’, to re-create the feeling of a deaf-mute. He was concerned with what he specifically termed as “the silence of holding one’s breath” (4), and those specific moments before words are spoken. Several images in the film – the child with her parents, at school, and alone – are heightened by these moments of soundless inaction, triggering a sudden awareness in the audience of their effects.

There is no sympathetic Shirley Temple characterisation of Mandy. The girl is stubborn, a burden to her parents, and content to exist in a silent world. Her struggle comes from the lack of knowledge of her actions. Like Mackendrick’s previous ingenuous heroes, Mandy is cogent in her idealism, which hinders her acceptance from the community. She maintains this identity by even refusing to fraternise with the deaf children at school. Her family is shut out as well. Mandy is in constant struggle with her parents, who feel a subconscious responsibility for her limitations and constantly shelter her from the outside world. Deafness in the film is related to imprisonment.

Her only ally is the crusty Dr. Searle (Jack Hawkins), the head physician at Mandy’s deaf school who, embroiled in an emotional tangle with Mandy’s parents, fuels gossip, scandal, accusation, and other functions of the necessary melodrama. But the characters are simply obtuse with priorities. Any kind of breakthrough is rare because the film’s driving themes center on lack of communication – of Mandy, her parents, and the community they live in. These were some issues Mackendrick was starting to explore, and would be refined in his later work.

A relative Scottish follow-up to Whisky Galore!, The Maggie (1954) is Mackendrick’s most difficult Ealing film and itself a comedy of difficulty. The movie’s title refers to a worn puffer ship and its crew of drunken Scotsmen that hijack their cargo from American businessman Calvin Marshall (Paul Douglas). They constantly elude the fastidious American until he gives in and allows them to deliver his goods, provided that he travels with them.

Besides the constantly irate Marshall, the other representative thematic character is a member of the offending crew, known only as ‘the wee boy’. Children, in Mackendrick’s films, are powerful forces for change and self-recognition. The relationship that Marshall and ‘the wee boy’ share is strained, but not unlike that of Mandy and Dr. Searle, who too function on a Socratic level of understanding. The Maggie also referred to changing times. Marshall signalled the advent of Americanisation in Britain, while ‘the wee boy’ contends with outdated tradition. The result, however, is somewhat baffling.

“It’s dealing with problems private to Mackendrick, and of little relevance to the rest of the world, and that’s probably what’s wrong with it” (5), the director observed. Perhaps his difficulty with The Maggie was brought about by the growing frustration and constrictive repetition that would finish Ealing production in the next few years. Despite this, it was to be his next film and last collaboration with the studio that would go on to be one of his most fondly remembered and, along with Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1948), best loved in studio history.

The Ladykillers

The Ladykillers (1955), literally borne out of a dream by screenwriter William Rose, focuses on a group of seemingly cold-blooded robbers disguised as musicians that find themselves helpless against an aloof but well-meaning old lady. They plan an elaborate heist at Kings Cross Station only to be held against the mercy of the dotty Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), who runs the room they rent.

Mackendrick’s first film in color is soaked in dark, rich hues that would evoke the later gothic sensibilities of the Hammer horror films. The murky, post-war east London neighbourhood is congested with cramped and lopsided turn-of-the-century houses saturated in deep browns and ominous blues, and the smoky, engine-emitted clouds from the industrial train yards easily hide bodies without question. Plus, in a sly nod to The Lodger, the movie introduces its felonious characters in sinister shadows and menacing expressionist lighting.

Led by Professor Marcus (a toothy Alec Guinness), the band of crooks disguise themselves as a string quartet as a ruse to keep their daft landlady at bay. She eventually finds out, chides them like a schoolmarm for their criminal behaviour, and they are left with a solution that renders them weak in the face of prim British tradition. Without a doubt the group resolves to do away with her, but the potential comedy of murder becomes a parody of murder, as they turn on each other.

With its machinations of macabre absurdity, The Ladykillers champions death to institution with morbid, delightful glee. If a lesser director treated such material, the result would have relied more on shock terrorising of the old lady by the mobsters than any other dramatic qualities. In fact, the screenwriter William Rose, equally unconventional as Mackendrick, only agreed to write the screenplay on the condition that the director would stop further communication with him. Through Mackendrick’s perspective, the effect is more comic horror and consequently, more satisfying. The film remains both a final ode to, and flouting of, Ealing convention.

After The Ladykillers, there had been some murmuring and unrest at Ealing. The BBC had bought the studio and production was shifted from film to television for the coming decade. The reign had ended, but with it ushered in fresh perspective that would prove fertile for the coming New Wave movement in British cinema.

Ealing’s legacy cultivated more than just a twee testament of comedy. Producer Michael Balcon related the studio’s sensibility to Henri Bergson’s view of comedy as “the mechanical interruption of the normal flow of events”, but substituted ‘arbitrary’ or ‘fanciful’ in place of ‘mechanical’ (6). But even with the blithe approach, a sense of sober tradition and respect for the old ways pervaded.

One of the primary architects of the formula, Mackendrick did his best to subvert it when he could. His Ealing films are of change; the first part moving towards it, but meeting opposition in the second half. Moreover, individual dreams are renounced for the romantic vision of community, and the endings were often ambiguous. The comedies themselves are not simply funny, but brutal in questioning the denial of human desire and refusal of satisfaction found in previous British filmmaking.

His films touched issues that were unheard of in current cinema that critic Charles Barr was led to ask, “Outside Mackendrick’s work, how many British films have intelligence as a central concern, valued in the characters as it is expressed in the organization of a film?” (7) Mackendrick would be remembered as a clear-sighted and unsentimental wrench in the machine of Ealing, and he was now ready to tread new ground.

There were a couple of reasons why he went to Hollywood. Cary Grant wanted to do a remake of Mandy through Paramount. But for Mackendrick, the thought of making the same movie twice exasperated him. Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, one of the growing independent companies at the time, approached him to replace Anthony Asquith on The Devil’s Disciple. Production for that film was postponed, and in the meantime, they offered him a screenplay that Ernest Lehman had been working on.

“The movie that will never be forgiven…or forgotten!”, the tagline on the poster reads, and indeed, Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is Mackendrick’s best-known movie. The story, concentrating on an unscrupulous press agent and a ruthless but prominent newspaper columnist, is a razor sharp introduction to Hollywood. The film established his ability to extend beyond peculiar comedies into territories of the American noir style, supported by cinematographer James Wong Howe, and lacerating dialogue contributed by Clifford Odets.

Mackendrick and Lancaster on set, Sweet Smell of Success

Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), the desperate publicity man, is a tainted opportunist borrowing traits from earlier Mackendrick characters. The real threat is through columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), an amoral and bitter tree trunk of a man toppling anyone around him. His disturbing and incestuous fixation on his younger sister forces him to enlist Sidney’s help to end her budding relationship with a clean-cut jazz musician.

Like his earlier Ealing films hinted, Mackendrick’s handling of characters was never sympathetic in showing the cunning of human self-interest, the dangerous casualty of inexperience, and guilelessness as a valid excuse. He is both repelled and fascinated by the film’s subject matter and, in a bold shift from previous Ealing sensibilities, idealism is shattered.

Images in the film are bold and oppressive. Hunsecker towers over the other characters with acidic superiority while New York City looms over everyone and everything, its giant skyscrapers holding as much authority as the characters of the movie. Mackendrick, often fond of shooting scenes at floor level, minimises the size of the actors in relation to exterior shots in Manhattan, making the frenetic pace of ants seem a fair comparison. His vision of New York is cutthroat, fast, and perilous, and demonstrated a deft handling of image and theme that would lead to some of his finest work in the next two films.

Sammy Going South, released in a heavily edited US version in 1963 under the title A Boy Ten Feet Tall, is only second to the later A High Wind In Jamaica in its thoroughly realistic and cynical perception of children. The title character, a young British boy currently living in Port Said, loses his parents during the Suez Canal conflict. He decides to set out on foot through Africa to find his only living relative, an aunt living in Durban. Along the way his encounters with adults end in incarceration, community destruction, and even death. It is also an outdoor picture, and an adventure about a boy travelling alone, burdened by an unfamiliar environment.

A quality shared by the children in Mackendrick’s films is the need to reject the influence of a parental figure. Along the way, Sammy grows increasingly paranoid with every adult encounter – he concludes they have ulterior motives, and are always after something. In another parallel that echoes Mandy and The Maggie, Sammy and Cocky Wainwright (Edward G. Robinson), the bandit diamond smuggler and only non-familial adult he confides in, share a strained, but symbiotic kinship.

Cocky understands Sammy’s nomadic quality, and may be the only adult in Mackendrick’s films to realise the motivation of the child. Sammy’s journey takes meaning – “I have to go south!” he consistently cries throughout the movie. To him, the situation is dire but thoroughly inexplicable. Even at the film’s resolution the young boy has yet to grasp the scale of his desires and actions. In Mackendrick’s penultimate film would such issues be consciously addressed.

A High Wind In Jamaica
(1965), in all of Mackendrick’s output, is a compelling film that unites previous concerns into an epic scale. The story is vivid and may echo a few traces of the comic nightmare of The Ladykillers in its contrast of character types. A British couple living in Jamaica send their children back to England for schooling, only to have the ship hijacked by pirates, while the children unknowingly stow away in the pirates’ own ship. They are treated respectfully, yet their indiscretions cause conflict among the pirates and lead to eventual murderous results at innocent hands. How Mackendrick approached the subject matter required some tact and diplomacy.

He first heard of the novel by Richard Hughes while at Ealing, and initially went to Balcon and proclaimed, “This, above all, is the film I wanted to make” (8). But the issues it addressed didn’t conform to Ealing code. For that matter, a realistic depiction of pirates – previously mimed in movies as grotesque villains or swashbuckling acrobats – was hard to do. He would have to wait a few years, for an offer from Twentieth Century Fox.

A High Wind In Jamaica

Anthony Quinn and James Coburn were eventually cast as the lead pirates, and unknowns who had little acting experience were cast as the children. “Children are often better actors than adults, because they have a greater capacity for believing completely in a situation,” (9) the director once said. In this film, the children are deathtraps. The adults of the movie are baffled by their unprincipled behaviour, even if the actions are unintentional. The relationship between the children and the pirates is Mackendrick’s most polar extreme of innocence and experience. His penchant for fatalistic negativity is at the fore and any notion of romanticism is contorted into shocking awareness. Children, in Mackendrick’s work, can be dangerous and nasty creatures that prove more harmful than their youth could even account for. Moreover, the film had an atmosphere that bordered on the bizarre and morbid. In a later interview, Mackendrick acknowledged that it even had a curious aftertaste of “Shirley Temple singing ‘Good Ship Lollipop’ while dismembering a puppy” (10).

A High Wind In Jamaica
is the last film in which he had creative control. The studio edited a considerable portion of what he shot, but the film is still regarded as an overlooked masterpiece. His last directorial effort however, would prove to be as difficult as any of the characters in his best works.

Don’t Make Waves (1967) isn’t memorable for any of its mid-’60s traits – animated titles, a corny song by a popular rock’n’roll group, or cheap sex jokes. It’s almost not a memorable film altogether, except for its footnote as Mackendrick’s last effort as credited director.

A smooth-talking salesman Carlo Cofield (Tony Curtis) grows fascinated with the laid-back California lifestyle and tries to get his piece of it. Carlo shares a slight kinship with Sweet Smell of Success in its lead actor and similar character temperament. In this film though, Carlo is more of a blackmailer and sexual obsessive – ”I want to be where the action is”, he declares, reading a men’s magazine full of expensive products while ogling the photos of scantily clad women. The women he chases are a shallow, accident prone Italian (Claudia Cardinale), and an elusive but dim beach bunny (Sharon Tate) who are no more than superficial commodities of gratification.

The movie is all about collapse – of the older generation, values and, literally, the cliffside bungalow that Carlo purchases overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Material goods and sexual indulgence are integral to this theme as a channel for understanding the lifestyle under observation. But the community involved is vacuous and inactive, and are only hollow foils to Carlo’s puerile whims. It is a comedy of an outsider who, with no explanation or past, immerses himself in frivolity, consumerism and, most of all, disillusion. It is also a difficult film to fully appreciate, and difficult to criticise without a sense of pity for its director.

The fluff of Don’t Make Waves can only be seen as derivative of previous ’60s beach movies. Mackendrick was used to stronger material, but he was getting fed up with the greed of the Hollywood system. “Movies are an incidental byproduct of deals,” (11) he later observed. During the years that followed, nothing was coming in. But Mackendrick, undaunted, went somewhere else.

Mackendrick in class

He was offered the deanship of the film department at the new California Institute for the Arts when it opened in 1969, and held the position until a few years later, taking up teaching instead until his death in 1993. Mackendrick’s impact at the school is extensive, and his teachings are as lucid and insightful as contemporary and fellow teacher Nicholas Ray.

In his class notes, he stressed the importance of the narrative thread and such Aristotelian issues as intelligence and human emotion as judge, rather than physical sense, compared Sophocles and Pasolini, and covered Egyptian myths of creation in relation to filmmaking, among other topics. Teaching at CalArts allowed him to relate to a new generation his love for films and filmmaking, and the difficulties that go along with it.

Alexander Mackendrick is credited with making nine movies in the span of eighteen years. Despite an erratic output, his contributions broke down conventions in British films that were once snobbish and outdated. Recurring themes of authority, age, and tradition were addressed under a tactful umbrella of comedy that for him, did not function as daydream or escapism. It served as a forum to tackle issues that dramatic films couldn’t approach without sermonizing.

His characters embodied dual, conflicting natures of cunning and integrity, and an untainted hero was never a fixed idea. Children and the elderly were the ones to watch out for in his pictures, as they had the tendency to be callous, and often capable of cruelty. The situations they were in would come to a ferocious end: victory joined with unbearable disgrace, while uncertainty remained. There was no large theological plan, and the end was just ambiguous.

Mackendrick distrusted romantic notions of the auteur theory. From the collaborative atmosphere of Ealing, he knew that directors did not deserve sole credit for the making of a film. He was, however, completely film literate and his influences ranged from Pudovkin and Eisenstein, to the literary approach of Marcel Carne, and the dark styles of German Expressionism. His own style reflects an unobtrusive anonymity. One can see Mandy and Sweet Smell of Success and not even realise the same person made them. He remains an enigma and iconoclast among his peers, and the sense of accomplishment in his pictures lies with the reserved skill that is executed. Perhaps it was because he was consistently working, not just for Ealing or later independent companies, but also on projects he wanted to eventually film, like Brecht’s Three Penny Opera, a modernised and female version of Cyrano de Bergerac, and Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros, with Peter Sellers – he even cast the rhino.

One project in particular, on Mary, Queen of Scots, had been percolating since his Ealing years. But the studio wasn’t interested in another costume drama, as Saraband for Dead Lovers had been a financial setback. For several years he drew meticulous storyboards, filled with vivid battle scenes and elaborate shots. It was not meant to be, but Mackendrick later conceded, “At least I can go back and dream about it” (12).

Thanks to Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, Hollywood, for their inexhaustible movie collection; Sean Noel and the Special Collections department of Boston University; Edwin Smith of Castle Rock Entertainment and most of all to Hilary Mackendrick for her time and generosity.

Alexander Mackendrick


As director:

Whisky Galore! (1949)

The Man in the White Suit


The Maggie

The Ladykillers

Sweet Smell of Success

“The Hidden Fury” (1961) episode 90 from The Defenders television series, 3rd season

Sammy Goes South

A High Wind in Jamaica

Don’t Make Waves

Other credits:

Saraband for Dead Lovers (Basil Dearden, 1948) screenplay and uncredited storyboards

The Blue Lamp
(Basil Dearden, 1949) additional dialogue and second unit director

Dance Hall (Charles Crichton, 1950) screenplay

The Devil’s Disciple
(Guy Hamilton, 1959) uncredited director

The Guns of Navarone
(J. Lee Thompson, 1961) uncredited director

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad
(Richard Quine, 1967) uncredited director

Film about Mackendrick:

Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away (Dermot McQuarrie, 1986) made for Scottish television


Roy Armes, A Critical History of British Cinema, New York, Oxford University Press, 1978.

Michael Balcon, Michael Balcon Presents…A Lifetime of Films, London, Hutchinson, 1969.

Charles Barr, “Projecting Britain and the British Character: Ealing Studios”, Screen, vol. 15, no. 2, Summer 1974, p. 139.

Charles Barr, Ealing Studios, Berkley, University of California Berkley Press, 1993.

Derek J. Davies, “As I See It: An Interview with Alexander Mackendrick”, Film Teacher, Summer 1953, p. 12.

Raymond Durgnat, A Mirror for England: From Affluence to Austerity, New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Stephen Frears, A Personal History of British Cinema (“Typically British”) In
Conversation with Alexander Mackendrick, BFI & Channel 4, 1997.

Philip Kemp, Lethal Innocence: The Films of Alexander Mackendrick, London,
Methuen, 1991.

Philip Kemp, “There Are No Rules: The Film Teaching of Alexander Mackendrick”, Metro, no. 113/114, 1998.

George Perry, Forever Ealing: A Celebration of the Great British Film Studio, London, Pavilion Books, 1981.

Nicholas Ray, I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray on Making Movies, Berkley, University of California Press, 1995.

Basil Wright, The Long View, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1974.

Articles in Senses of Cinema

Whisky Galore! by Darragh O’Donohue

Web Resources

Alexander Mackendrick
A profile on Mackendrick.

Sweet Smell of Success
Short discussion of music and sound in the film.

Turner Classic Movies
Brief piece on The Man in the White Suit. This site also contains links to other films made through Ealing Studios.


  1. Raymond Durgnat, A Mirror for England: From Affluence to Austerity, Praeger Publishers, New York, 1971.
  2. Author interview with Hilary Mackendrick.
  3. Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away (Dermot McQuarrie, 1986) Scottish television.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Philip Kemp, Lethal Innocence: The Films of Alexander Mackendrick, Methuen, 1991, p. 83.
  6. Michael Balcon, Michael Balcon Presents…A Lifetime of Films, Hutchinson, London, 1969, p. 158.
  7. Charles Barr, “Projecting Britain and the British Character: Ealing Studios”, Screen, Summer 1974, p. 139.
  8. Kemp, p. 193.
  9. Derek J. Davies, “As I See It: An Interview with Alexander Mackendrick”, Film Teacher, Summer 1953, p. 12.
  10. Mackendrick interview, The Man Who Walked Away.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.

About The Author

Monica Garrido lives in Los Angeles and previously worked at Castle Rock Entertainment. She is currently working on an upcoming documentary on British cinema to be directed by Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson.

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