Robert Cartwright

Robert Cartwright when he worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
7 Apr 1992
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

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Born Luggershaw/Andover. Started secondary school in Denham in 1940, High Wycombe technical College 1943-46. Father was an electrician at Denham Studios during and after the 1939-45 war. Bob studies History of Architecture and Technical Drawing, and started as a messenger/runner at Denham after schooling. He remembers cycling along the indoor corridor at Denham, which connected offices to studios.

Jack Stephens passed on and paid for an architectural postal course to Bob’s eternal gratitude. He progressed to a £10 draughtsman’s wage after his national service in 1948 and he remembers Denham closing soon after (in 1950?). He married in 1952 and he and his wife belonged to the social and sports club at Denham/Pinewood and cinema club in the village.

Bob talks of his experience with Independent Frame, water-cooled projectors and early sound recording methods. He worked on all the Carry On films, Doctor at Sea, Trouble in Store – his first credit, under Carmen Dillon was for Doctor at Sea as a set dresser. He’s worked in the Art Department throughout his long career, becoming freelance, and staying freelance.

Films, many on location include Road to Hong Kong, Guns of Navarone, Beckett, Lolita, Heroes of Telemark; he has worked on commercials and many television series, from The Saint to Randall & Hopkirk, decd. Ed Murrow. Talks of newest developments/implications of filming.

A strong believer and sometimes active member of ACT and ACTT, he hopes that BECTU will carry on the work of the earlier unions, especially in the area of wages, and go from strength to strength. He regrets that Nostromo was never completed; Fred Zinneman is the director he most admires.

[Notes by Joyce Robinson]


Robert Cartwright (born August 1930) was an English art director. He was nominated for four Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for   'Becket' (1964), Scrooge (1970), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Elephant Man (1980).. He is also known for his work on Bugsy Malone ( 1976) The Day of the Jackal (1973) and History of the World: Part I (1981), 2001: A Space Odyssey ( 1968) Oliver! ( 1968)  and many more.