Star Archive

Robert Stevenson (1905 - 1986)

Robert Stevenson's CV is dominated by one film, Mary Poppins, and his period at the Disney studios. However, his pre-war career in British cinema is full of pleasurable films which are fast-paced, good-looking and enjoyable.

Stevenson had no interest in cinema growing up, and it wasn't until he was an mechanical sciences student at Cambridge that he first seriously engaged with it. He graduated with a first, then studied psychology as a post-graduate and edited Granta. After leaving Cambridge he joined a newsreel agency. In 1929 he became a screenwriter at Gaumont-British.

Michael Balcon, throughout his career as one of the major producers of British cinema, was always ready to give a helping hand to bright young men from Oxbridge and Robert Stevenson fitted right into this category. Stevenson contributed to the scripts for a wide range of films and gained associate producer credits too.

He co-directed a couple of Jack Hulbert films before getting a chance to direct solo. Tudor Rose, the story of Lady Jane Grey's  short reign, was a solid hit and established his name as an up-and-coming director. He was back to producing duties (and some uncredited directing) on Jack Hulbert's The Camels are Coming which co-starred Anna Lee. Stevenson and Lee married soon after and she starred in many of his British films.

His career was going well when war broke out, and his pacifism and a contract with Selznick took him to Hollywood. Unlike his contemporary Alfred Hitchcock who also crossed the Atlantic at around the same time for Selznick, Stevenson's career stalled with only Jane Eyre making much of an impact. His marriage to Lee ended in 1944. By the mid-50s, Stevenson was reduced to TV. 

The Disney Corporation came to the rescue. Disney was always able to use a sharp, professional director who didn't impose too much of his own style on the material and Stevenson fitted that bill. The films he made for Disney have endured to become family classics, if only due to Disney's policy of reissuing the films on a regular basis as a new generation of kids succeeded the old. So the likes of the Absent-Minded Professor, The Love Bug, The Shaggy D.A. and of course Mary Poppins have entertained families for forty years or more.

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1932 Happy Ever After (co-dir)
1933 Falling for You (co-dir)
1934 The Camels are Coming
1936 Tudor Rose
1936 The Man Who Changed His Mind
1936 Jack of All Trades (co-dir)
1937 King Solomon's Mines
1937 Non-Stop New York
1938 Owd Bob
1938 The Ware Case
1939 Young Man's Fancy
1940 Return to Yesterday
1940 Tom Brown's School Days (US)
1941 Back Street (US)
1942 Joan of Paris (US)
1943 Forever and a Day (US)
1943 Jane Eyre (US)
1944 Know Your Ally! (US)
1946 American Creed (US)
1947 Dishonoured Lady (US)
1948 To the Ends of the Earth (US)
1949 The Woman on Pier 13 (US)
1950 Walk Softly, Stranger (US)
1951 My Forbidden Past (US)
1952 The Las Vegas Story (US)
1957 Johnny Tremain (US)
1957 Old Yeller (US)
1959 Darby O'Gill and the Little People (US)
1960 Kidnapped
1961 The Absent-Minded Professor (US)
1962 In Search of the Castaways
1964 The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (US)
1964 Mary Poppins (US)
1964 The Monkey's Uncle (US)
1965 That Darn Cat (US)
1967 The Gnome-Mobile (US)
1968 Blackbeard's Ghost (US)
1968 The Love Bug (US)
1971 Bedknobs and Broomsticks (US)
1974 Herbie Rides Again (US)
1974 The Island at the Top of the World (US)
1975 One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing
1975 The Shaggy DA (US)

Robert Stevenson at Amazon UK  

Robert Stevenson at Amazon US