As part of the British Documentary Film Movement, he worked with the General Post Office film unit from 1933, before replacing Paul Rotha as head of Strand Films in 1937. In 1939, he moved to Canada with John Grierson, where he launched the National Film Board of Canada's Canada Carries On and World in Action film series, for which he made many films. His most notable films include Churchill's Island (1941), which won the first Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, and Warclouds in the Pacific, which was nominated for the same award. A few years after the war, he returned to Britain and worked as a producer for the Crown Film Unit between 1948 and 1950. In 1957, he became chairman of the Film Centre International. He later produced documentaries for Shell.
His interest in history led him to write The Heartland (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1970; later reissued as The Barbarians of Asia); dedicated to Grierson, the book "gives the grand sweep of European and Asian history in terms of the continual conflict between the great coastal civilizations (China, India, Persia, the Middle East, Europe) and the barbarian horsemen from the central Asian steppes (Huns, Turks, Mongols, and others)."
Stuart Legg married Margaret Amos (1910–2002), daughter of Sir Percy Maurice Amos KBE KC (of the prominent Amos legal dynasty). However they lived apart for many years.
- BFI, LEGG, Stuart.
- Ellis, Jack C. (2 August 2000). John Grierson: Life, Contributions, Influence (in Ellis). Southern Illinois University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-8093-2242-0.
- BFI, Legg, Stuart (1910–1988): "I'd gone into … documentary, but I don't think I was ever very good at it really … I was interested in history. I was interested in international affairs."
- Mark Alford, The Heartland (Stuart Legg).
- BFI Screenonline biography
- Film Reference Library biography
- Stuart Legg at the Internet Movie Database
- Watch films by Stuart Legg at NFB.ca
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