Star Archive

John Boulting (1913 - 1985) and Roy Boulting (1911 - 2001)

British cinema has always been rich in producer-director teams. The Boulting Brothers were one of the most notable of these teams and between them created some of the most socially engaged films of the 40s and 50s.

The twins were born on the 21 December 1913, with John the elder by five minutes. They went to school at Reading public school and appeared as extras in Anthony Asquith's Tell England. Their interest in cinema continued after school and John entered the business in 1930 working for a small distributor. Roy headed for Canada where he also found film work for a while.

In 1937 John left England to serve as an ambulance driver for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. When he returned, he and his brother formed Charter Films and began to make short films for the Quota. Their productions quickly became more ambitious. Their anti-Nazi film Pastor Hall had trouble with the censors in the delicate political situation before the outbreak of war, but was ready to take advantage of the changing times once war was declared.

During the war, John served in the RAF while Roy served in the Army; both ended up at their services' respective film units where they built up their reputations. Roy created the Oscar-winning documentary Desert Victory and John had his first director credit on the hit drama Journey Together.

After the war the brothers were well placed to take advantage of the new political environment and the audience's raised interest in political and social issues. they formed a production company and put Journey Together star Richard Attenborough under contract. Fame is the Spur, about a Ramsey McDonald-like Labour leader, and The Guinea Pig, about social integration in public schools performed poorly but Brighton Rock about pre-war gangs was a hit.

After working separately for Hollywood companies for a short period, the brothers reunited for undistinguished comedy Josephine and Men. Their next film together, Private's Progress, was a smash and started a cycle of comedies examining 50s society with a jaundiced eye. They joined the board of British Lion which helped them weather the changing times though by the mid-60s their careers were pretty much over. Only the controversial thriller Twisted Nerve stands out from their late work, and that's mainly because Roy married its young star Hayley Mills.

If the Boulting Brothers' work is not quite as radical as they would have liked, they did at least deliver a handful of solid classics that can still be enjoyed today.

Still from Pastor HallPoster for Tunisian VictoryStill from Fame is the SpurPoster of Brighton RockJohn Boulting on the set of The Guinea PigStill from I'm All Right JackStill from I'm All Right Jack



John Boulting

Roy Boulting

  Producer Writer Director Producer Writer Director
1938 Seeing Stars prod.         dir.
1938 Ripe Earth prod.         dir.
1938 The Landlady prod.         dir.
1938 Consider Your Verdict prod.         dir.
1939 Trunk Crime prod.         dir.
1940 Inquest prod.         dir.
1940 Pastor Hall prod. ass.     ass. dir.
1941 The Dawn Guard prod.         dir.
1942 Thunder Rock prod.         dir.
1942 Via Persia       prod.    
1943 Desert Victory           dir.
1944 Tunisian Victory           co-dir.
1944 Minefield       prod.    
1945 Burma Victory           dir.
1945 Journey Together prod. scenario dir.      
1947 Fame is the Spur prod.         dir.
1948 Brighton Rock     dir. prod.    
1948 The Guinea Pig prod.       ass. dir.
1950 Seven Days to Noon co-prod.   co-dir. co-prod.   co-dir.
1951 The Magic Box     dir.      
1951 High Treason         script dir.
1953 Singlehanded           dir.
1954 Seagulls Over Sorento co-prod.   co-dir. co-prod. co-writ. co-dir.
1955 Josephine and Men prod.         dir.
1956 Private's Progress   co-writ. dir. prod.    
1956 Run for the Sun (US)           dir.
1957 Brothers in Law prod.       co-writ. dir.
1957 Lucky Jim     dir. prod.    
1957 Happy is the Bride         co-writ. dir.
1959 Carlton-Browne of the FO prod.       co-writ. co-dir.
1959 I'm All Right Jack   co-writ. dir. prod.    
1960 A French Mistress prod.       co-writ. dir.
1960 Suspect co-prod.   co-dir. co-prod.   co-dir.
1963 Heavens Above! co-prod. co-writ. co-dir. co-prod.   co-dir.
1965 Rotten to the Core     dir. prod. co-writ.  
1966 The Family Way co-prod.   co-dir. co-prod. co-adapt. co-dir.
1968 Twisted Nerve exec.         dir.
1970 There's a Girl in My Soup co-prod.         dir.
1973 Soft Beds, Hard Battles prod.       co-writ. dir.
1979 The Last Word           dir.

Boulting Brothers at Amazon UK  

Boulting Brothers at Amazon US