Star Archive

Adrian Brunel (1892 - 1958)

Anyone who takes an interest in British cinema history is going to come across the name of Adrian Brunel sooner or later. Yet seeing his films is another matter.

Brunel was born in Brighton and educated at Harrow. He got involved in amateur dramatics in Brighton making many connections which served him throughout his career. He also dabbled in local journalism, which brought him into contact with the last of the film pioneers who had briefly turned Brighton and Hove into the centre of the film industry. He took a job in film distribution, and thus was well placed to develop the Ministry of Information's film department when he proved unfit for active service.

When the war was over, he continued in the industry. The twenties were an unhappy period for the industry but Brunel worked his way up while the number of features nosedived. He was a scenario writer, a producer and also had a nice sideline re-editing foreign films for the British market. His main contribution to the industry was a series of humorous shorts such as Crossing the Great Sagrada parodying the genres of the day.

He was heavily involved with the Film Society which promoted cinema as an art to the intelligentsia. It screened foreign art movies and selected revivals. Brunel's parody of the newsreel Topical Budget (Typical Budget) was premiered as part of the society's first programme. 

The success of the feature Blighty took him out of the shorts business. The pinnacle of his career coincided with the birth of sound and the Quota Act - changing the business completely. Elstree Calling, an all-talkie review film, was edited without his approval, and extra sequences shot without him. That, and a law suit he started against Gainsborough Studios made people think twice about employing him.

He re-entered the business at the bottom - directing quota quickies. It was a thankless job, but the unexpected success of Badger's Green raised his profile again. His directing career finally foundered on the failure of The Lion Has Wings. Though he continued to get credits on films (including The Gentle Sex from which he was removed from directing after a few days) he gradually moved away from the business, becoming a successful playwright and penning an entertaining memoir of his time in movies.

With many of his quota films lost and his silent work difficult to see, it's hard to judge just how good a director he was. Certainly, his memoir is so full of regrets about projects taken away from him before completion, it's hard to escape the feeling that he was better at getting jobs than keeping them.    

Still from The Rebel Son


1916 The Cost of a Kiss
1920 Twice Two
1920 The Temporary Lady
1920 Five Pounds Reward
1920 The Bump
1921 Too Many Crooks
1923 Yes, We Have No...
1923 Two-chinned Chow
1923 The Shimmy Sheik
1923 The Man Without Desire
1924 Sheer Trickery
1924 A Pathetic Gazette
1924 Lovers in Araby
1924 Crossing the Great Sagrada
1925 A Typical Budget
1925 So This is Jollygood
1925 Cut It Out!
1925 The Blunderland of Big Game
1925 Battling Bruisers
1927 Blighty
1928 The Constant Nymph
1928 The Vortex
1929 The Crooked Billet
1030 Elstree Calling
1933 Two Wives for Henry
1933 Little Napoleon
1933 The Laughter of Fools
1933 I'm an Explosive
1933 Follow the Lady
1933 Taxi to Paradise
1934 Menace
1934 Important People
1934 Badger's Green
1935 Variety
1935 Vanity
1935 The Invader
1935 City of Beautiful Nonsense
1935 Cross Currents
1935 While Parents Sleep
1936 Prison Breaker
1936 Love at Sea
1938 The Lion Has Wings
1939 The Rebel Son
1940 The Girl Who Forgot

 Adrian Brunel at Amazon UK

 Adrian Brunel at Amazon US