Ronald Neame (Director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer)
23 April 1911 – 18 June 2010
BAFTA was saddened to hear of the death of British film director and Academy Fellow Ronald Neame on 18 June 2010.
A hugely influential figure in British cinema, Ronald Neame worked for Alfred Hitchcock on the first British ‘talkie’ Blackmail (1929) and during the subsequent decade honed his talents as a cinematographer on a series of popular films starring George Formby, among others. He lit Major Barbara (1941) and went on to enjoy a fruitful collaboration with the editor of that film, David Lean, under the Cineguild banner.
With Lean directing they worked together on In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944) and Blithe Spirit (1945) by which time Neame was also contributing to the screenwriting process. He doubled up as co-screenwriter and producer on Lean’s Great Expectations (1944) and producer of Oliver Twist (1948).
His involvement in the fledgling British Film Academy saw him serve a term as chairman, and his wider body of work was later recognised by a well deserved BAFTA Fellowship. As a director he possessed diverse tastes, evidence of which comes from films as varied as The Card (1952), The Man Who Never Was (1956), The Horse’s Mouth (1958), Tunes of Glory (1960), I Could Go On Singing (1963) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969).
In America he scored a notable box office hit with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), one of the first in a cycle of starry disaster movies, but his taste remained subtler than that, though no less populist as demonstrated by other movies such as The Odessa File (1974).
Ronald Neame served as Governor Emeritus of BAFTA/LA and received the BAFTA/LA Britannia Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Film in 2005 (see picture above).
In 1996 he was awarded a CBE for his services to the British film industry.
Words by Anwar Brett