TELEVISION / Briefing: Geniuses don't have to graduate

  • @GerardVGilbert
With movies like The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Private Life of Henry VIII, Things to Come and The Thief of Bagdad, the British film industry of the Thirties and Forties muscled its way into world markets in a way it hadn't before and hasn't since. This was all thanks to one man's vision, and, on the 100th anniversary of Sir Alexander Korda's birth, OMNIBUS (10.20pm BBC1) traces his journey from humble birth in a Hungarian village to the first knighthood of the British film industry. Our guide is fellow Hungarian film-maker Peter Sasdy, who opens his account by saying 'a Hungarian is a person who goes into a revolving door behind you and comes out ahead'. Ralph Richardson, filmed in 1968, agrees: 'Korda was the nearest thing to a magician that I have come across.' The first half of Sasdy's two-part biography, which concludes next week, follows the producer / director through school in Budapest ('geniuses don't have to graduate': Korda), early film-making in Vienna and Berlin, a short, failed stint in Hollywood ('a Siberian lead mine is the only thing worse') and on to his spiritual home, England, where he formed London Films.

(Photograph omitted)