Star Archive

Sir Terence Rattigan (1911 - 1977)

Many distinguished 20th century playwrights have dabbled in British cinema, but few have made such an outstanding contribution as Terence Rattigan. His stage plays have overshadowed his film scripts, but a list of half a dozen of his best films shows just what a dominant figure he was in the post-war period.

Rattigan's father was a diplomat. Rattigan was a gifted pupil and won a scholarship at Harrow and, later, one for Oxford University. However, from an early age his focus was less on education and more on theatre and he didn't take his degree.

His first play had a short West End run in 1934, but it was the massive hit of French Without Tears in 1936 that made his name. At around the same time he began his screenwriting career and after a couple of undistinguished films it was again French Without Tears that put him on the map. It was also the first of many films with director Anthony Asquith. Their next film together, Quiet Wedding, was a massive hit. By the middle of the century Rattigan was Britain's pre-eminent screenwriter and playwright. Then the backlash happened.

The next generation of writers, the "angry young men", needed something to kick against and Rattigan with his well-made plays and insistence that the Aunt Ednas in the audience shouldn't be offended was a prime target. His career, while still lucrative, went into a critical decline. However, he lived long enough to see a revival in his work and that revival has continued into the present day. Modern productions see past the Edna-friendly surface of his work and mine the repressed homosexuality of his characters, and few writers have tapped British repression better than Rattigan.      


1936 The Belles of St Clements
1937 Gypsy
1939 French Without Tears
1941 Quiet Wedding
1942 The Day Will Dawn
1942 Uncensored
1944 English Without Tears
1945 The Way to the Stars
1945 Journey Together
1947 While the Sun Shines
1947 Brighton Rock
1948 The Winslow Boy
1948 Bond Street
1951 The Browning Version
1952 The Sound Barrier
1953 The Final Test
1955 The Man Who Loved Redheads
1955 The Deep Blue Sea
1957 The Prince and the Showgirl
1958 Separate Tables
1963 The VIPs
1964 The Yellow Rolls Royce
1969 Goodbye Mr Chips
1973 Bequest to the Nation

Terence Rattigan at Amazon UK  

Terence Rattigan at Amazon US