January 2, 2017


Graham Cutts (1885-1958) b. Brighton, Sussex, England.

Graham Cutts

Britain’s most prestigious director of the mid-1920s, Cutts lost his place in the order of things after leaving Gainsborough, the company he helped to found. But he made some big box-office successes during his brief stay there, notably those which highlighted the magnetic visual appeal of the Welsh-born matinee idol Ivor Novello. Cutts began his career as a marine engineer, but had become a film exhibitor by 1909. He moved into direction in 1922 and, in his few years at the top of the tree, was associated with some of the most prominent figures in the industry at the time, notably Victor Saville, Alfred Hitchcock, Herbert Wilcox, Adrian Brunel and Michael Balcon. His work with the photogenic and delicately talented American actress, Mae Marsh, in three films, Flames of Passion (1922), Paddy – the Next Best Thing (1923) and The Rat (1925), led to a revival of her popularity in Britain, where she stayed for some years. The Rat (1925), which also starred Novello as the scurrilous but loveable Apache dancer of Paris, gave rise to two popular sequels, projecting Novello in Valentino-style light as the skilful seducer who sometimes meets his match in spirited ladies of the aristocracy. These are expensive-looking productions designed to rival the best romantic adventure stories of the time from Hollywood and Cutts handles their sometimes exciting, sometimes wittily amusing developments with considerable flair, making it surprising that he quickly became such a pedestrian director when the 1930s came along. Cutts, it seems, was not a popular man with his fellow-workers. In the words of one, ‘he was jealous of all other directors under contract to Gainsborough. He seemed to see them as a threat’ Hitchcock and Brunel were two to suffer from this apparent attitude, although Hitchcock, once Cutts’ assistant, was soon in charge of his own films. Cutts, like another prominent director of the 1920s, George Pearson, ended his career making short documentary films.

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