January 2, 2017


Val Guest (1911-2006) b. London, England.

Val Guest

Born in Maida Vale, London, Valmont Maurice Guest began his eclectic career as a film journalist and columnist for the London edition of the Hollywood Reporter, and for a brief spell as bit-part actor. He learned the film business as a scriptwriter at Gainsborough Studios on comedies for Will Hay, Arthur Askey, and the Crazy Gang; he wrote some of Will Hay‘s best comedies including Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937), and Ask a Policeman (1939).

His debut feature as a director was Miss London Ltd (1943). He spent the remainder of the 1940s perfecting his skill on a number of comedies and suspense thrillers with varying success. Later, Guest directed Miss Pilgrim’s Progress (1950), an important landmark in his life and career; he worked with actress Yolande Donlan whom he would later marry. He began a productive collaboration with Hammer Studios with Life with the Lyons (1953), and followed with the landmark sci-fi thriller The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), earning Guest much acclaim. The sequel Quatermass II (1957), touched upon public anxiety over the Cold War, whilst once again Brian Donlevy as the erstwhile Professor Quatermass battled alien invasion. Along with the Quatermass films, Guest also directed The Abominable Snowman (1957), The Camp on Blood Island (1958) and Up the Creek (1958) whilst with Hammer. Yesterday’s Enemy (1959) and Hell Is a City (1960), were both taut psychological thrillers, and two of Guest’s final productions with Hammer. He made only one more film with Hammer, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). After leaving the studio he continued to combine the thriller and science-fiction genres to good effect. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) remains a highlight of his career.

Guest co-directed the James Bond parody Casino Royale (1967), with five other directors; as a result the film suffered from an incoherent script and muddled vision. During the 1970′s, his career waned and Guest directed a number of sex comedies, including Au Pair Girls (1972) and Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974).

He then turned his attention to directing for television, working on series such as The Persuaders and Space 1999. Guest enjoyed a brief return to form with The Shillingbury Blowers (1980), a quaint film starring Trevor Howard about a small town band. His final film before retirement in the mid-1980s was The Boys in Blue (1982), a painfully unfunny remake of Ask a Policeman starring tv duo Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball. He died in Palm Springs aged 94.

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