Star Archive

Walter Forde (1896 - 1984)

If the crown for the King of British Comedy Directors goes to Marcel Varnel, then runner up must be Walter Forde. However, unlike Varnel, Forde's work spans several genres and he was particularly adapt at the comedy-thriller.

Forde started his career in Music Hall and quickly became an established comedian. He moved into films after the war and became the star of a number of shorts. He wrote his own screenplays and moved into directing his films. Many people consider him to be the only silent comedian we produced who could compete with the great American comics.

He was popular enough to make the leap into feature films. He appeared in his first few films, but soon retreated behind the camera (though, like Hitchcock,  he did walk-ons in many of his films). The success of The Ringer and The Ghost Train put him in the big league of British directors (admittedly not a very big league) and for the rest of the decade he got the pick of the assignments.

With the outbreak of war his output declined, and after the failure of Cardboard Cavalier he took early retirement and moved to California. 

Despite his slapstick background, Forde's lasting influence is in the development of the comedy-thriller. From The Ringer to Rome Express and his two Inspector Hornleigh films, he produced the template that others have followed. His influence is particularly marked on Launder and Gilliat, the latter of whom worked as co-writer on many of Forde's greatest hits.

Still from The Silent HouseStill from Rome ExpressPoster for Master of BankdamPoster for Cardboard Cavalier

Filmography (features as director)

1928 Wait and See
1928 What Next?
1929 Would You Believe It!
1929 The Silent House
1930 Red Pearls
1930 You'd Be Surprised
1930 The Last Hour
1930 Lord Richard in the Pantry
1930 Bed and Breakfast
1931 The Ringer
1931 Splinters in the Navy
1931 Third Time Lucky
1931 The Ghost Train
1931 Condemned to Death
1932 Lord Babs
1932 Jack's the Boy
1932 Rome Express
1933 Orders is Orders
1934 Chu Chin Chow
1934 Jack Ahoy!
1935 Bulldog Jack
1935 For Ever England
1935 King of the Damned
1936 Land Without Music
1938 Kicking the Moon Around
1938 The Gaunt Stranger
1939 Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday
1939 Let's Be Famous
1939 The Four Just Men
1939 Cheer Boys Cheer
1940 Saloon Bar
1940 Sailors Three
1940 Charlie's (Big Hearted) Aunt
1941 The Ghost Train
1941 Inspector Hornleigh Goes To It
1941 Atlantic Ferry
1942 Flying Fortress
1942 The Peterville Diamond
1943 It's That Man Again
1944 Time Flies
1944 One Exciting Night
1947 Master of Bankdam
1949 Cardboard Cavalier

 Walter Forde at Amazon UK

 Walter Forde at Amazon US