Alexander Mackendrick

“Undoubtedly the best British director to develop in the immediate postwar years, a filmmaker whose work retained and even increased in assurance after the demise of Ealing… He made one of the best American films of the Fifties, the mordant Sweet Smell of Success, while the underestimated Sammy Going South, High Wind in Jamaica, and Don’t Make Waves have extremely subtle, delicate, and individualistic styles.” - Georges Sadoul (Dictionary of Film Makers, 1972)

Alexander Mackendrick

Director / Screenwriter
(1912-1993) Born September 8, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: UK
Key Genres: Comedy, Crime Comedy, Drama, Satire, Black Comedy, Adventure Drama
Key Collaborators: Jim Morahan (Production Designer), Douglas Slocombe (Cinematographer), Alec Guinness (Leading Actor), Tony Curtis (Leading Actor), Joan Greenwood (Leading Actress), Cecil Parker (Leading Actor), William Rose (Screenwriter), Michael Balcon (Producer), Dorothy Alison (Character Actress)

“His early British comedies display a gentle grasp of human foibles folded into upper-class humor and working-class hilarity (The Man in the White Suit, 52; The Ladykillers, 55). Later Mackendrick illustrated the same comprehension in the scorching Sweet Smell of Success (57) and A High Wind in Jamaica (65).” - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“Among the talented team assembled at Ealing Studios by Michael Balcon two directors stand out for their individualism, Robert Hamer and Alexander Mackendrick. If Hamer’s films are distinguished by their visual stylisation and melancholy tone, then it is Mackendrick who took the Ealing comedy style and pushed it into areas of satire and black humour which mark his films out from the more whimsical, optimistic approach usually favoured by Balcon.” - Robert Shail (British Film Directors: A Critical Guide, 2007)
“Gifted director whose films are marked by fine writing and acting; best known for his ingenious Ealing comedies of the 1950s.. Mackendrick’s ability to elicit outstanding performances from his actors, particularly children, is displayed in Crash of Silence (aka Mandy) (1952) and A High Wind in Jamaica (1965). He also directed Tony Curtis in two of his best performances, as the opportunistic press agent in the scathing Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and in the Southern Californian comedy Don’t Make Waves (1967).” - The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992
"One of Britain's greatest directors, Sandy Mackendrick proved himself that rare thing - a man who could successfully direct comedy, with Whiskey Galore! (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955), satire, with The Man in the White Suit (1951), romance, with Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948) [as co-screenwriter; Basil Dearden directed], tragedy, with his American masterpiece, The Sweet Smell of Success (1958), and even children's films, with Sammy Going South (1963). It's as if he had to test himself at least once, in every possible category - and it worked. What more need be said?" - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"In the late 40s and early 50s he was responsible for several intelligent and highly entertaining Ealing Studio comedies... Later, he proved himself equally effective with dramatic films, particularly the American-made Sweet Smell of Success (1957), a no-holds-barred "expose" of corruption in the world of press agents and newspaper columnists. Despite a limited output, and several misses, Mackendrick left a bright mark on Anglo-American cinema." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Like Robert Hamer, Alexander Mackendrick was one of the finest and least typical directors at Ealing Studios. Perhaps best known for the four comedies he made there, he nonetheless created films of a rare blackness, marked by a pessimistic - albeit witty - vision of human cruelty, corruptibility, and self-obsession." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"The great directors managed to dissolve and disappear into the work. They make other people look good." - Alexander Mackendrick
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Mandy (1952), The Ladykillers (1955) , Sweet Smell of Success (1957) ✖︎
Recommended
The Man in the White Suit (1951)
Worth a Look
Whisky Galore! (1949), The Maggie (1954), Sammy Going South (1963), A High Wind in Jamaica (1965), Don't Make Waves (1967)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Ladykillers
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