'Cruel Sea' producer dies

LESLIE NORMAN, the film producer and director whose films included the hugely successful The Cruel Sea, has died at the age of 82, it was revealed yesterday, writes Esther Oxford.

The father of the television film critic Barry Norman, he suffered a seizure while driving near his home in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, on Thursday.

Mr Norman left school at 14 and, after various jobs, was employed sweeping the cutting-room floors at Ealing Studios. He worked his way up to become one of Britain's finest film editors before and after the Second World War, working under the Ealing chief, Sir Michael Balcon.

He served as a major in a highly secret sonic-warfare unit during the war, at one time broadcasting sound effects in the Burmese jungle to mislead the invading Japanese army.

Sir Michael asked for him to be released early from army service to edit The Overlanders, and Norman went on to produce Where No Vultures Fly, Mandy and the Ealing comedy A Run For Your Money as well as The Cruel Sea, which was made in 1953 and starred Jack Hawkins and Virginia McKenna, in a heroic story of a Royal Navy corvette protecting Atlantic food convoys.

Mr Norman became a director in the mid-Fifties, first with The Night My Number Came Up, then The Shiralee, The Long and the Short and the Tall, and Dunkirk.

A laryngectomy 16 years ago forced him to retire. He spent his last years giving occasional lectures to other sufferers on how the lack of a voice box could be overcome. He also suffered from diabetes.

In later life, Leslie Norman became deeply disillusioned with the cinema.

In a newspaper interview two years ago, Barry Norman explained: 'My father doesn't like movies anymore. He made films in a gentlemanly era when people helped and cared for each other and there was no explicit sex, or violence, or four-letter words. He is appalled by cinema today.'

(Photograph omitted)

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