Ken Russell

Ken Russell

Highest Rated: 100% Mahler (1974)

Lowest Rated: 33% Trapped Ashes (2006)

Birthday: Jul 3, 1927

Birthplace: Not Available

British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the '60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he'd make up his own -- frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds. A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969's Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director who staged a scene in a mainstream movie in which two men wrestled in the nude could escape notice, and thus Russell became more of a "star" than his actors. While some viewers had their sensibilities shaken by Women in Love, others had their sensibilities run through the blender with Russell's next film, The Music Lovers. Predicated on the notion that Peter Tchaikovsky and his wife were, respectively, a homosexual and nymphomaniac, the film's much discussed "highlight" is a scene in which Nina Tchaikovsky (Glenda Jackson) allows the inmates in the cellar of an insane asylum to reach up and play with her privates. But this was kid's stuff compared to Russell's The Devils (1971), an ultraviolent and perversely anachronistic adaptation of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun. Russell returned to his musical theater roots with The Boy Friend (1971), a bloated version of Sandy Wilson's intimate 1920s pastiche, brought The Who's rock opera Tommy to the screen in a visually flamboyant cinematization that starred Roger Daltrey and Ann-Margret, and returned to offbeat biographical material with Lisztomania (1975) and Valentino (1975). The latter film not only suggested that Rudolph Valentino (Rudolf Nureyev) performed totally nude in his silent films, but also offered up the spectacle of Huntz Hall as producer Jesse Lasky. At this point, even some of the most devoted fans of Russell's outrageous (but undeniably brilliant) visual sense were fed up with his shock-for-shock's-sake approach and his all-consuming narcissism. Following the mind-bending horrors of Altered States in 1980, Russel maintained momentum with Gothic, a visually lavish retelling of the weekend of debauchery that gave birth to the Frankenstein mythos in the mind of a young female author named Mary Shelley. Though the film may have had its fair share of detractors due to Russel's signature departure from historical fact, it nevertheless aquired a cult following thanks to its heavy atmosphere and dark fantasy. After detailing the exploits of yet another famed author (this time Oscar Wilde) in the 1988 comedy drama Salome's Last Dance, Russel turned out another curiousity in the form of that same year's Lair of the White Worm. Based on Dracula author Bram Stoker's short story of the same name of featuring a memorable performance by a pre-romantic comedy stalwart Hugh Grant, Lair of the White Worm's outrageous, sex vampire excess and near surreal humor earned the effort a proud spot in many a cult movie aficionado's collection. He was back in his old form with 1991's Whore, which conveyed several times over that life on the streets is hell -- then for good measure, said it a few more times. Backed by a childishly slavering ad campaign, Whore brought Russell into the spotlight again for what would be the last time in some while.Dabbling in television for much of the 1990s, may of Russel's efforts during the decade were fairly unmemorable despite featuring such noteworthy actors as Richard Dreyfuss

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Isadora Captain Patterson (uncredited) 2012
No Score Yet Invasion of the Not Quite Dead Actor 2011
No Score Yet Valentino Screenwriter Director 2011
50% Color Me Kubrick Nightgown Man $37.7K 2007
69% Brothers of the Head Himself 2006
33% Trapped Ashes Director 2006
No Score Yet Agatha Christie - Marple: The Moving Finger Actor 2005
No Score Yet Dance Of The Seven Veils Director 2003
50% Gothic Screenwriter Director 2002
No Score Yet The Fall of the Louse of Usher Actor Director 2002
No Score Yet Tracked (Dogboys) (Dog Boys) Director Screenwriter Producer 1998
No Score Yet In Search of the English Folk Song Host Screenwriter Director 1997
No Score Yet Mindbender (Uri Geller) Director 1996
60% Tales of Erotica Screenwriter Mr. Kirsch Director 1994
No Score Yet Prisoner of Honor Director 1991
46% Whore Director 1991
76% The Russia House Walter 1990
No Score Yet Women & Men: Stories of Seduction Director 1990
71% The Rainbow Producer Director Screenwriter 1989
50% Aria Screenwriter Director 1988
65% The Lair of the White Worm Producer Screenwriter Director 1988
43% Salome's Last Dance Kenneth Director Screenwriter 1987
No Score Yet Faust Director 1985
36% Crimes of Passion Director 1984
84% Altered States Director 1980
No Score Yet Psychotic Connections Director 1980
44% Valentino Screenwriter Director Rex Ingram 1977
74% Tommy Screenwriter Director Producer 1975
50% Lisztomania Director Screenwriter 1975
100% Mahler Screenwriter Director 1974
60% Savage Messiah Director 1972
83% The Boy Friend Director 1971
73% The Devils Screenwriter Director Producer 1971
59% The Music Lovers Producer Director 1971
81% Women in Love Director 1969
50% Billion Dollar Brain Director 1967
No Score Yet Dante's Inferno Screenwriter Producer Director 1967
No Score Yet Monitor: Always on Sunday Director 1965
No Score Yet The Debussy Film Producer Director 1965
No Score Yet French Dressing Director 1964
No Score Yet Pop Goes the Easel Director 1962
No Score Yet Prokofiev Director 1961


No Score Yet Mystery!
Caleb Dane Calthrop Rev. Caleb Dane Calthrop 2006


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