Roy Ward Baker
|Roy Ward Baker|
on set, in 1961
|Born||Roy Horace Baker
19 December 1916
|Died||5 October 2010
Roy Ward Baker (19 December 1916 – 5 October 2010), born Roy Horace Baker, was an English film director, credited as Roy Baker for much of his career. His best known film is A Night to Remember (1958) which won a Golden Globe for Best English-Language Foreign Film in 1959. His later career included many horror films and television shows.
Born in London where his father was a Billingsgate fish merchant, Baker was educated at a Lycée in Rouen, France, and at the City of London School. From 1934 to 1939, he worked for Gainsborough Pictures, a British film production company based in the Islington district of London. His first jobs were menial, making tea for crew members, for example, but by 1938 he had risen to the level of as assistant director on Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938).
He served in the Army during World War II, transferring to the Army Kinematograph Unit in 1943 to make better use of his skills as a production manager and director on documentaries. One of his superiors at the time was novelist Eric Ambler, who insisted on Baker being given his first big break directing The October Man, from an Ambler screenplay, in 1947. Ambler also adapted Walter Lord's A Night to Remember for Baker's 1958 screen version. His next two films, The Weaker Sex (1948) and Paper Orchid (1949) were popular but overshadowed by the success of Morning Departure (1950), also featuring John Mills.
Morning Departure drew international attention to Baker's talent and prompted Darryl Zanuck, production head of 20th Century Fox, to invite him to Hollywood, though his first film for the company - I'll Never Forget You - was made in the UK. During the early 1950s, Baker worked for three years at Fox where he directed Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and Robert Ryan in the 3-D film noir Inferno (1953). He returned to the UK in 1953 and continued to work on films.
He worked for television during the 1960s. He directed episodes of The Avengers, The Saint, The Persuaders!, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and all adventure series created with an eye on the American market. The low-budget ethic of television production made him well-suited to his next career move into cheaply produced, but lavish-looking British horror films. He directed, among others, Quatermass and the Pit (1967) The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970) for Hammer, and Asylum (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973) for Amicus. He also directed Bette Davis in the black comedy The Anniversary (1968).
In the latter part of the 1970s he returned to television, and throughout the 1980s continued to work on shows such as Minder. He retired in 1992.
In 2000 Baker published his memoirs, Director's Cut: A Memoir of 60 Years in Film, and in 2002 sold his production files and letters at auction.
He contributed interviews to several DVD extras, such as those with "The Saint", "Randall & Hopkirk - Deceased" and took part in the 2007 BBC 2 documentary series British Film Forever, and in Mark Gatiss's October 2010 BBC 4 series, A History of Horror, in which he gave his final recorded interview.
Roy Ward Baker died on 5 October 2010 aged 93.
- The October Man (1947)
- The Weaker Sex (1948)
- Paper Orchid (1949)
- Morning Departure (1950)
- Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
- Inferno (1953)
- Jacqueline (1956)
- Tiger in the Smoke (1956)
- The One That Got Away (1957)
- A Night to Remember (1958)
- The Singer Not the Song (1961)
- Two Left Feet (1963)
- Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
- The Anniversary (1968)
- Scars of Dracula (1970)
- The Vampire Lovers (1970)
- Foreign Exchange (1970, TV film)
- Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)
- Asylum (1972)
- The Vault of Horror (1973)
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
- Roy Ward Baker (2000) Director's Cut: A Memoir of 60 Years in Film and Television. Reynolds and Hearn.
- Bruce Weber "Roy Ward Baker, Prolific British Filmmaker, Dies at 93", New York Times, 8 October 2010
- "Obituary Roy Ward Baker". The Daily Telegraph, UK. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
- "Obituary Roy Ward Baker". The Times, UK. 9 October 2010.
- Tom Vallance Obituary: Roy Ward Baker, The Independent, 14 October 2010
- "Obituary in The Saint News".
- Roy Ward Baker at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Roy Ward Baker at the Internet Movie Database
- Roy Ward Baker at BFI Film & TV Database
- Obituary in The Guardian