Anthony Asquith

Highest Rated: 94% Pygmalion (1938)
Lowest Rated: 0% The V.I.P.s (1963)
Birthday: Nov 9, 1902
Birthplace: Not Available
For two decades, Anthony Asquith was -- along with Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, and Carol Reed -- one of the most internationally successful filmmakers to come out of England. So much of his career was spent adapting plays to the screen, however, that his critical recognition was somewhat limited in his own lifetime and for many years after, and it was only in the 21st century that his movies began getting the respect they deserved. Born in 1902, Asquith was the youngest child of Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), who served as British prime minister from 1908 to 1916. As a young man, Asquith, in turn, played a pivotal but indirect role in the development of motion picture arts in England by co-founding the London Film Society, along with such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw. Their purpose was to help push the British movie industry to look seriously at adapting the bolder, more inventive cinematic influences of Germany, Sweden, and America. Asquith formally joined the British film industry in the mid-'20s as a crew member, and advanced initially by virtue of his family name and the opportunities that it afforded for travel. He easily could have become one of England's idle rich -- even in his twenties, he was one of those people who, thanks to his family connections, was often written about for his travels and sightings in the gossip columns -- but instead he decided he wanted a career in film, and made it his business to visit Hollywood at the end of the silent era. There he made the acquaintance of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and spent his time watching various filmmakers at work. He returned to England, and, with that experience under his belt and some promise already shown, Asquith was moved behind the camera, making his debut with Shooting Stars (1927). That film and his 1928 feature A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) were among the most highly regarded releases of the late silent era in England, and Asquith was suddenly thrust into the forefront of the film industry. He made the transition to talkies with Tell England (1931), which dealt with the World War I Battle of Gallipoli. The movie is now considered hopelessly jingoistic and dated, but it was massively popular among middle-class audiences in its own time, and seemed to portend great things for Asquith. The early '30s caught him adrift, however, trapped working on projects with which he had little sympathy and showed no inventiveness, including the early Laurence Olivier vehicle I Stand Condemned (aka Moscow Nights). His career was languishing by the mid-1930's, and it seemed as though all of that early promise had dissipated. In 1937, that all changed when Asquith was chosen as the director of the screen adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. The resulting film was perhaps the finest comedy ever to come out of England, as well as the first (and some would say the best) successful screen adaptation of Shaw. The movie was a hit in England and also in the United States and most of the rest of the world, and easily ranked among the most successful British comedies ever released. Its success was due in no small part to Asquith's ability to persuade Shaw to rewrite the ending of the play, something that the author had steadfastly refused to do or permit in earlier attempts to film his plays. In the wake of Pygmalion, major opportunities started coming Asquith's way; he was, along with his slightly older contemporary Alfred Hitchcock (who was about to leave for America), the most celebrated and prominent filmmaker in England. Asquith's first notable project after the Shaw film was the screen version of Terence Rattigan's play French Without Tears, which had been a huge success in London and the work that established Rattigan as a major playwright. Asquith made a good film, despite the insistence by Paramount Pictures, the American partner in the co-production, that the movie use a pair of less-than-ideal performers in its leading roles. The film was a

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
No Score Yet The Yellow Rolls-Royce Director 1965
0% The V.I.P.s Director 1963
No Score Yet Two Living, One Dead Director 1961
No Score Yet The Millionairess Director 1960
No Score Yet Libel Director 1959
No Score Yet Orders to Kill Director 1958
No Score Yet Carrington V.C. (Court Martial) Director 1955
No Score Yet The Final Test Director 1954
87% The Importance of Being Earnest Screenwriter 1952
89% The Browning Version Director 1951
No Score Yet Woman in Question Director 1950
No Score Yet Winslow Boy Director 1949
No Score Yet Cottage to Let Director 1948
No Score Yet While the Sun Shines Director 1947
No Score Yet Fanny by Gaslight (Man of Evil) Director 1945
No Score Yet The Way to the Stars Director 1945
No Score Yet The Demi-Paradise Director 1943
No Score Yet We Dive at Dawn Director 1943
No Score Yet Cottage to Let Director 1941
No Score Yet Freedom Radio (A Voice in the Night) Director 1941
No Score Yet Quiet Wedding Director 1941
No Score Yet French Without Tears Director 1939
94% Pygmalion Director Screenwriter 1938
No Score Yet I Stand Condemned Director 1936
No Score Yet Tell England (The Battle of Gallipoli) Director 1931
No Score Yet Cottage on Dartmoor Director Screenwriter Producer 1930
No Score Yet The Runaway Princess Director 1929
No Score Yet Underground Director Screenwriter 1928
No Score Yet Shooting Stars Director Screenwriter 1927

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