Roy Baker was born in Hornsey - the son of a fishmonger. He was educated at the City of London School and from an early age was determined to enter the film industry. After a spell in the mailroom at Columbia Gramophone he got a job at Gainsborough as a gofer in 1934. By 1936 he had worked his way up to second assistant director on Tudor Rose. He learned a lot watching other directors at work and was particularly impressed by Hitchcock on The Lady Vanishes.
He joined the army early in 1940. In 1942 he transferred to the Army Kinematographic Service Film Production Unit. There he got a chance to direct a series of training films. Writer Eric Ambler was also at the unit and after the war Ambler invited Baker to direct his adaptation of Uncle Silas. Delays in pre-production meant that Baker's first credit as director was Ambler's The October Man. The result was a fine film, but tensions in production meant that Baker's relationship with Ambler was strained and Uncle Silas went on without him.
After a couple of forgettable low-budget films, he directed Morning Departure which was a massive hit (partly because it mirrored real-life events). This got him noticed by Twentieth Century Fox and his efficiency handling The House in the Square for them took him to Hollywood. His time there wasn't hugely successful, but he did steer Marilyn Monroe through the difficult role of the psycho babysitter in Don't Bother to Knock.
Back in Britain, he made a series of solid films culminating in the great Titanic epic A Night to Remember. For a brief while it looked like Roy Baker had a shot of joining the ranks of the great directors but the contraction of the industry at the end of the 50s did for him. The other thing that did for him was the disastrous The Singer Not the Song.
He took to television, making episodes of The Saint, The Avengers and many others while still chasing film work. He got another opportunity with Hammer and Quatermass and the Pit. This opened up a whole new career in horror for him. It also marked the point at which he added the Ward to his name in order to avoid confusion with a sound technician of the same name.
The horror films got less impressive as his career drew to a close, but there was still television to make including episodes of Minder, The Irish RM and The Flame Trees of Thika. He directed his last TV episode in 1992.
|1947||The October Man|
|1948||The Weaker Sex|
|1951||The House on the Square|
|1952||Don't Bother to Knock (US)|
|1952||Night Without Sleep (US)|
|1956||Tiger in the Smoke|
|1957||The One That Got Away|
|1958||A Night to Remember|
|1960||The Singer Not the Song|
|1961||Flame in the Streets|
|1962||Two Left Feet|
|1967||Quatermass and the Pit|
|1969||Moon Zero Two|
|1970||The Vampire Lovers|
|1970||The Scars of Dracula|
|1971||Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde|
|1972||And Now the Screaming Starts!|
|1972||The Vault of Horror|
|1973||The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires|
|1980||The Monster Club|
Roy Baker at Amazon UK
Roy Baker at Amazon US