January 2, 2017


Pat Jackson (1916-) b. London, England.

Sensitive British director at his best with documentaries. Unfortunately, he never seemed to get the chance to bring this distinctive touch to his post-war work. As an editor and co-director with the trail-blazing GPO Film Unit in the mid-1930s, Jackson had the opportunity to work with John Grierson, Basil Wright, Alberto Cavalcanti, Harry Watt and others. But his reputation was really made with the wartime semi-documentary Western Approaches (1944), which mixed genuine footage with clever mock-up work in Pinewood Studios, photographed in luxurious TechniColour by Jack Cardiff, to catch all the intensity of war at its height for the merchant seaman. Alas, Jackson remained promising for far too long. There was an abortive period under contract to Alexander Korda, and an almost equally abortive visit to MGM in Hollywood, where he made just one film in two years, the moody melodrama Shadow on the Wall (1950), which cast Ann Sothern against type as a vindictive murderess, but was nothing special. From 1951, Jackson flittered about the fringes of the British film industry, hopping from producer to producer, studio to studio to independent. He kept fairly busy directing for television, but there were sometimes considerable gaps between his films. From 1958, Jackson hit his best patch. Virgin Island (1958) was a real life story of considerable charm about a young couple starting out in life on an uninhabited West Indian island. It was followed by a telling little second-feature, Snowball (1960), with Gordon Jackson; Seven Keys (1961), another good second-feature with Jeannie Carson and Alan Dobie; What a Carve-Up! (1962), a very lively comedy-thriller send-up of The Old Dark House type of film, and the creepy, compelling Don’t Talk to Strange Men (1962). But they were small peaks, and did not lead to greater things. Jackson returned to television.

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