Lewis Allen (director)
25 December 1905|
Oakengates, Shropshire, England, UK
|Died||3 May 2000
Santa Monica, California, US
|Occupation||TV and film director|
Lewis Allen (25 December 1905 – 3 May 2000) was an English film and television director. Allen worked mainly in the United States, directing 18 feature films between 1944 and 1959. From the mid-1950s he moved increasingly into television and worked on a number of the most popular shows of the time in the US.
Allen was born in the small Shropshire town of Oakengates and on leaving school joined the Merchant Navy for four years. After leaving the service he became, briefly, an actor, before moving into London theatrical management, firstly for Raymond Massey and later for Gilbert Miller.
By the early 1940s Allen had moved to the US He directed a wartime propaganda short Freedom Comes High in 1943 and was given his first chance to direct a feature film in 1944. He made a highly auspicious debut with The Uninvited, an atmospheric and memorable ghost story set on the misty coast of south-west England, starring Ray Milland and Gail Russell. The film was very favourably received and subsequently acquired the status of a classic of its genre. Allen again worked with Russell, alongside Joel McCrea and Herbert Marshall, in 1945's The Unseen, a film with a similar supernatural theme which is often considered the unofficial follow-up to The Uninvited. Other films of this period included a romantic comedy The Perfect Marriage (1947) with David Niven and Loretta Young, and Desert Fury (1947), a noir-ish Western drama starring Lizabeth Scott and John Hodiak.
In 1948 Allen returned to Britain to film So Evil My Love, a lavishly-mounted melodramatic period thriller set in Victorian London, which reunited him with Milland, playing an out-and-out bad lot ruining the lives of Ann Todd and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Allen later said that he found Milland a pleasure to work with, and the two teamed up again in Sealed Verdict (1948), a topical drama dealing with the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the American-occupied zone of post-war Germany.
The early 1950s brought the biopic Valentino (1951) and the noir Appointment with Danger (1951) starring Alan Ladd, then in 1954 he directed the tense and claustrophobic Frank Sinatra vehicle Suddenly which became, alongside The Uninvited, his most widely known and highly regarded film. In 1955 Allen directed two Edward G. Robinson films, A Bullet for Joey and Illegal. He directed the DuMont television series Ethel Barrymore Theater, filmed in 1953 and shown in syndication as Stage 8 in 1958.
Allen made only two more films, both in Europe. In Britain, he directed Sean Connery and Lana Turner in the soapy melodrama Another Time, Another Place (1958), while his last was Whirlpool (fr) (1959), a woman-on-the-run drama made for the Rank Organisation but filmed on location in Germany.
As his film career began to fade out, Allen made the transition to television, where his services turned out to be in demand from the mid-1950s up to the latter part of the 1970s. His many credits included episodes of hit shows such as Perry Mason, The F.B.I and Mission: Impossible. Most notably, he directed 42 episodes of long-running series Bonanza, spanning the show's entire 14-year run. He retired in 1977.
Television credits (main)
- Tom Weaver, "An Interview with Lewis Allen", Criterion Collection accessed 18 March 2014
- Lewis Allen Obituary Copage, Eric. New York Times, 10 May 2000. Retrieved 10 October 2010