Anthony Havelock-Allan

Anthony Havelock-Allan - Photo [Source, Cinema Museum]
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Interview Date(s): 
20 Jun 1990
29 Jun 1990
3 Jul 1990
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Interview notes

SUMMARY: In this often fascinating interview with Linda Wood, Anthony Havelock-Allan talks in detail about his long career. He has much to say about his working relationships with luminaries such as David Lean, Noel Coward, Ronald Neame, Anthony Asquith and Filippo Del Giudice and the production of his major films from the immediate postwar era. However, the interview may be more valuable for the light it sheds on less celebrated moments in his biography. In particular, he goes into great detail about his early career as a producer of quota films at the British and Dominion studios. Anticipating subsequent academic reevaluation of this period in British cinema history, he describes quota production as the equivalent of Hollywood ‘B’ film production and asserts that it was the most satisfying period of his career. Also of note is his discussion of his career as a producer in Italy and his attempts to start Britain’s first pay cable service during the 1960s.


Married to Valerie Hobson

BIOGRAPHY: Anthony Havelock-Allan was a major figure in the post-war blooming of British cinema. Both into a predominantly military family, his career in the entertainment industry began at a German gramophone company and subsequently as a manager at a cabaret club. In 1933 he began work as a casting director at British and Dominion film studios, who were involved in the production of ‘quota quickies’ for Paramount. He quickly graduated to producer and between 1935 and 1937 he produced more than twenty films. He began making first-feature films from 1938, and in 1942 he teamed up with Noel Coward, David Lean and Ronald Neame to form the production company Cineguild. Their films included In Which we Serve (1942), Brief Encounter (1945), This Happy Breed (1944), Blithe Spirit (1945) and Great Expectations (1946). Havelock-Allan was also credited as co-screenwriter on the latter four. His career in the 1950s was less successful, but it included a stint in Italy and films with Anthony Asquith. In 1960 he formed British Home Entertainment, which sought to introduce pay-cable TV to Britain. He returned to film production in the late 1960s with two highprofile projects: Franco Zefferelli’s massively successful Romeo and Juliet (1968), and, resuming his partnership with David Lean, Ryan’s Daughter (1970). In retirement, he was involved in establishing the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).