There was nothing special about the film career of Muriel Box: a long slog up through the industry, a bit of scriptwriting and producing before getting to make a few competent films. But her gender means she will always have a place in British film history. She proved a woman could do the job as well as a man.
She was a continuity girl (Muriel Baker) when she met up with struggling journalist Sydney Box. They collaborated on a series of plays for amateur theatre groups which featured mainly female roles. They set up a production company, Verity Films, to fill a need for short propaganda films during the war and from there branched out into fiction.
As scriptwriters they hit gold with their screenplay for The Seventh Veil and got themselves an Oscar. They consolidated their position in the industry with scripts for films such as Holiday Camp and The Brothers. Their fondness for downbeat realism got them into trouble with the censor on Daybreak and Good Time Girl. During the late forties Muriel was head of Gainsborough's scenario department with her husband as head of production.
She got her directing break with Bernard Knowles' stinker The Lost People. She did so many re-shoots to try to make it releasable that she got a co-directing credit. It was still quite a struggle to get her next directing job, but she persevered and over the next decade got a number of middle-of-the-road productions to helm.
When the swinging sixties kicked in, she found it difficult to get work and retired. She didn't have a really great hit behind her to help get her through the change in tone of the times and the shrinking of the industry.
Looking back on her films it is difficult to see any difference between her work and that of an average male director. Only Street Corner (about women police officers) shows any concern about "women's issues" at least directly though there are traces of her feminist concerns throughout the films she wrote and/or directed. Being harsh, she only got a chance to direct because her husband was a producer. But she did blaze a trail that few have followed and she can look back on her career with pride. Many people have wanted to direct - she did it, and did it well.
|1949||The Lost People (co.)|
|1952||The Happy Family|
|1955||To Dorothy a Son|
|1955||Simon and Laura|
|1957||The Passionate Stranger|
|1959||The Truth About Women|
|1959||Subway in the Sky|
|1959||This Other Eden|
|1960||Too Young to Love|
|1962||The Piper's Tune|
|1964||Rattle of a Simple Man|
Muriel Box at Amazon UK
Muriel Box at Amazon US