Maurice Elvey (11 November 1887 – 28 August 1967) was one of the most prolific film directors in British history.[1] He directed nearly 200 films between 1913 and 1957. During the silent film era he directed as many as twenty films per year.[2] He also produced more than fifty films – his own as well as films directed by others.[3]

Maurice Elvey
William Seward Folkard

(1887-11-11)11 November 1887
Died28 August 1967(1967-08-28) (aged 79)
Brighton, England
Occupation(s)Film director
Film producer
Years active1913–1958
Spouse(s)Philippa Preston
(m. 191?; div. 191?)
Florence Hill Clarke
(m. 1916; div. 19??)
Isobel Elsom
(m. 1923; div. 19??)

Biography edit

Born William Seward Folkard in Stockton-on-Tees, he ran away from home at the age of nine, seeking his fortune in London. There he worked variously as a kitchen hand and hotel pageboy, before ending up as stagehand and actor at the age of 17. He quickly rose to directing and producing plays and established his own theatrical company before switching to films with The Great Gold Robbery in 1913. He directed a wide array of popular features in a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, literary adaptations – including Robert Louis Stevenson's The Suicide Club (1914) and a version of William Shakespeare's As You Like It entitled Love in a Wood (1916) – and biographical profiles of figures including Florence Nightingale and Lord Nelson. The Life Story of David Lloyd George (originally titled The Man Who Saved The Empire[4]), suppressed for political reasons just prior to its release in 1918, had its world premiere in Cardiff in May 1996 and was hailed by critics and film historians as one of the best silent films produced in the UK.

In 1921, Elvey directed 16 shorts and one full-length feature film (The Hound of the Baskervilles) with Eille Norwood as Sherlock Holmes. The actor was Arthur Conan Doyle's favourite among those who portrayed his literary sleuth.

Elvey was employed by the Fox Film Corporation in 1924 and made 5 films for them in America before returning to Europe the following year.[5]

Elvey worked with such performers as Leslie Howard, Ivor Novello, Ida Lupino, Benita Hume, Gracie Fields, Claude Rains, Alastair Sim, Leslie Banks, and Fay Wray, and mentored future directors Carol Reed, David Lean, and Ronald Neame. In 1944, he was charmed by Petula Clark when he saw her perform at the Royal Albert Hall, and he launched her film career by casting her as a precocious waif in his wartime drama Medal for the General. The two collaborated on three additional films.

Elvey was married three times, to actress Philippa Preston, sculptor Florence Hill Clarke, and actress Isobel Elsom, whom he met on the set of The Wandering Jew in 1923. The couple went on to make eight films together.

The loss of an eye and failing health prompted Elvey's retirement at the age of 70. Ten years later he died in Brighton.[6]

Filmography edit


Producer (selection)[3][7]

References edit

  1. ^ "Maurice Elvey". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Maurice Elvey credits". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Low, R. (2013). The History of British Film (Volume 3): The History of the British Film 1914–1918. Taylor & Francis. p. 93. ISBN 9781136206061.
  4. ^ Sarah Barrow, John White: Fifty Key British Films, Routledge 2012, page 8 Linked 2015-03-18
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Elvey, Maurice (1887–1967) Biography".
  6. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Elvey, Maurice (1887–1967) Biography".
  7. ^ IMDb: Maurice Elvey Filmography – Producer Linked 2015-03-18

External links edit