John Wiles

Photo of John Wiles - in action
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Interview Date(s): 
23 Apr 2002
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Interview No 515 with JOHN WILES

Interviewer Glyn Jones                   Recordist — Ian Duff

The interview with John Wiles took place on April 23'd 2002 at his home.

Side 1 of tape — Mostly concerned with John’s earlier career in the camera department at Merton Park studios, from his first work in the 1939-45 war period to his later work after his war service as cameraman on a wide variety of features and documentary productions up to the early 1960s.

Side 2 of tape is mostly concerned with his -work as producer of sponsored documentaries from the early 1960s onwards, firstly with Films of Today set up by the Film Producers’ Guild, and then with British Films from 1980 onwards. This covers the decline of the Guild, and its eventual take-over by Ray Evans of Cygnet Films to form Cygnet Guild (which also folded!). British Films main interest was in the exhibition of films, especially in Africa, but it also had a production arm making short films, and John was head of this for some fifteen years. Not long after he felt to retire, British Films also packed in, largely because of its African activities failing.

Some names mentioned in interview (in approximate order)

Films  The Gentle Sex; On Approval; Men of Two Worlds; The Canterbury Tale. People:  Ethel  Revnell and Gracie West, Jill Craigie, Pennington Richards, Stanley Spencer (the artist, later knighted), Eric Cross [BEHP Interview No 1], Cliff Hornby, Peter Hennessey; the Fdgar Lustgarten series, Ken Hughes, Ron Bicker, John Read, Geoff Busby, Michael McCarthy, Buckland Smith, Beckwith-Smith, Bill Shand-Kydd, Derek Cunningham, David Villiers, Fred Gamage [Interview No 478], Simon Sanders, Pat Ashton, Michael Crane. Also: Erwin Hillier{Interview No 64], Jack Greenwood.

(Note for researchers — John showed me a privately printed handbook which tells the history of the Merton Park studios site. No author, publisher or publication date is included, but the printer was the Roebuck Press of Kingston Road, Merton, and the title is LONG LODGE AT MERTON RUSH),


John Wiles  was a film and television cinematographer, director and producer. He worked   on many black-and-white crime movies that became a staple of British cinema in the 1950s.These include Man With A Gun (1958),  The Witness (1959) ,The Headless Ghost (1959) and  Urge To Kill (1960).