January 2, 2017


Jack Clayton (1921-1995) b. Brighton, East Sussex, England.

Jack Clayton

An employee of London Films in his teens, Jack Clayton became third assistant director, assistant director and editor just prior to World War II. In the RAF, Clayton rose to the rank of commanding officer in the film division. After the war, he went to work as a production manager and associate producer for both Alexander Korda and John Huston. His directorial debut was The Bespoke Overcoat (1955), an Oscar-winning short. His first feature-length film was adaptation of the John Braine novel Room at the Top (1958), starring Laurence Harvey as a Northern-born opportunist seeking success within the confines of a small-minded factory town. With the success of Room at the Top, Clayton established himself as a prime mover of the ‘angry young man’ category of ‘kitchen sink’ filmmaking. Not wishing to be typecast, Clayton turned down Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) and The L-Shaped Room (1962). His next project was the muted psychological ghost story The Innocents (1961), based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw, starring Deborah Kerr as the sexually repressed governess of two precocious children. The Pumpkin Eater (1964), was based on the novel by Penelope Mortimer, a searing marital drama with Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch. After the Gothic thriller Our Mother’s House (1967), based on Julian Gloag’s novel, Clayton took a seven-year sabbatical from films. He returned for the expensive remake of The Great Gatsby (1974), starring Robert Redford as F Scott Fitzgerald’s doomed hero. This much-awaited film disappointed critics and viewers alike; many found the casting flawed and the film overlong. After almost a decade, Clayton returned with Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury’s novel. After a four-year absence from film, Clayton returned to direct his last feature film, the critically acclaimed yet heartbreakingly sombre, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987). Clayton wrote and directed one more film for television before his death in 1995.

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