Obituary: Terence Young

Terence Young, film director, producer, screenwriter; born Shanghai 20 June 1915; married (one son, two daughters); died Cannes 7 September 1994.

THE British cinema - as opposed to the British film industry - first began to consider its responsibilities during the Second World War. The quantity and vitality of British movies produced between 1945 and 1950 is astonishing, with the serious variety attracting large audiences as never before. Between them, the benevolent flour- milling mogul Arthur Rank and the creative Hungarian paterfamilias Alexander Korda encouraged new talents, none of whom was more promising than Terence Young.

Young's first two films as director, for Rank, came out early in 1948, proving him anxious to work well outside the British mainstream. One Hour With You, with a typically playful script by Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon, imagined the misfortunes of Patricia Roc wooed by the tenor Nino Martini while stranded in Italy. Corridor of Mirrors gave even more meaning to the words bizarre, baroque - as Eric Portman, at his most magniloquent, brooded over a Renaissance painting in his dark mansion, convinced that he and his mistress, Edana Romney, are reincarnations of the lovers in it.

Earlier Young had worked as screenwriter on some interesting films with the director Brian Desmond Hurst: On the Night of the Fire (1939), a fugitive-from-justice tale, heavily influenced by Marcel Carne, with Ralph Richardson and Diana Wynyard; Dangerous Moonlight (1941), a wartime love affair between a Polish airman, Anton Walbrook, and an American journalist, Sally Gray, with the 'Warsaw Concerto' thrown in as a bonus; Hungry Hill (1946), Daphne du Maurier's chronicle of an Irish family with Margaret Lockwood as its matriarch; and Theirs is the Glory (1946), a semi-documentary account of the failure of the Battle of Arnhem. During service with the Armoured Guards Division Young was given leave to work with Clive Brook on the screenplay for On Approval (1944), based on Frederick Lonsdale's comedy and as directed by Brook, with himself, Beatrice Lillie, Googie Withers and Roland Culver, a happy version of a filmed play.

Young's first job with Rank was to hack a screenplay out of Mary Webb's novel Precious Bane, which he was scheduled to direct with Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons; but Rank got cold feet at the last minute and transferred him to a comedy with Granger, Woman Hater, for which he brought Edwige Feuillere across from France. Young's other film that year, They Were Not Divided, was a project dear to his heart, as it followed two Welsh Guardsmen, Edward Underdown and the American Ralph Clanton, from square- bashing to D-Day and beyond.

In 1954 he directed That Lady, the story of the romance of the one-eyed Princess of Eboli which scandalised the court of Philip II; he blamed its failure on the fact that that he had asked for Laurence Olivier and Ava Gardner, but had been given Gilbert Roland and Olivia de Havillland. With Zoltan Korda he co-directed Storm Over the Nile (1955), with Laurence Harvey and Anthony Steel, a remake of 1939 The Four Feathers, with footage from that stretched out for CinemaScope.

Young had already experienced his most important career move. Two American producers, Irving Allen and Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli, taking advantage of US tax concessions for working abroad, came to Britain with Alan Ladd to make The Red Beret (1953), in which Ladd was an American officer who does a T. E. Lawrence-like stint in the ranks of the British regiment. They had admired Young's work on his war movies and though he won no kudos for this one it was popular. He stayed with their company, Warwick, establishing himself as a director of transatlantic action movies.

He broke away for another personal project, Serious Charge (1959), in which a vengeful teddy boy, Andrew Ray, accuses a vicar, Anthony Quayle, of sexual assault. He then accepted the challenge of bringing four of Roland Petit's ballets to the wide screen in Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre (1960), or Black Tights. Maurice Chevalier introduced these diverse pleasures, including Moira Shearer and Petit in Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyd Charisse as a merry widow and Zizi Jeanmaire with him in Carmen.

Its success was not unqualified, and Young went on to co-direct, with Ferdinando Baldi, Orazi E Curiazi (1961), with Alan Ladd decidedly ill-at-ease as Horatio at the bridge. Cut, dubbed and retitled Duel of Champions, it got a few bookings some years later.

By that time Young's career had soared. Broccoli had teamed up with Harry Saltzman to film Dr No (1963), one of Ian Fleming's thrillers about a British secret service agent, James Bond. Saltzman, the American backer of such films as Look Back in Anger, had been looking for something more evidently popular. Apart from the two of them nobody believed in it, including the distributor, United Artists, who imposed budget restrictions; half a dozen actors turned down the role before it was accepted by the little-known and unlikely Sean Connery. (Young had previously directed Connery in 1957 in a small role in Action of the Tiger.) The notices were mediocre and Fleming was privately contemptuous, but the film went on to knock the box-office for six. With an injection of humour and Connery splendidly easing himself into the role, From Russia with Love (1963) and then Thunderball (1965) proved that Young was a first-rate action director and that the public couldn't get enough of 007.

When Young abandoned Bond, it was with mixed results. The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965) was an attempt by Marcel Hellman to duplicate the success of Tom Jones. But Warner Bros then put Young in charge of an adaptation of a long-running play, Wait Until Dark (1967), with Audrey Hepburn menaced by thugs, including a scarey Alan Arkin - and that is surely one of the best thrillers of the decade.

Young followed it with an Italian version of Conrad, L'Avventurio or The Rover (1967), which has been little seen despite the presence of Rita Hayworth and Anthony Quinn, and Mayerling (1968) with James Mason and Ava Gardner under-used as Franz Joseph and Elisabeth and Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve as the lovers. Several other co-productions with either France or Italy included The Valachi Papers (1972), a Mafia tale with Charles Bronson.

Young's long-delayed first Hollywood film, The Klansman (1974), with Richard Burton and Lee Marvin, was scathingly received - one reason why Paramount pulled the plug on The Jackpot, also with Burton, during production. But that company invited Young back for Bloodline (1979), based on a Sidney Sheldon bestseller which managed to combine a plot about company greed with one about the making of porn movies. Audrey Hepburn and James Mason headed the cast, and after the dreadful notices, she commented that she had made it both because the locations didn't take her far from her family and because she liked the director.

Young attracted Olivier to Inchon (1980) and The Jigsaw Man (1983), in which he respectively played General MacArthur and an admiral involved with Michael Caine, a former head of MI6 who had defected. The former, financed by the Rev Sun Myung Moon to an estimated dollars 100m, took peanuts in the US and has never been seen in Britain; the second ran into financial difficulties during filming and went direct to video.

This is a sad ending to an extraordinary career. No one would class Young with his contemporaries David Lean and Carol Reed, but he was one among others embraced by Hollywood: Michael Anderson, J. Lee Thompson, Ronald Neame, Ken Annakin and Lewis Gilbert. They gave Hollywood some excellent films and the American film industry liked them because they thought in commercial terms.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us