Val Guest

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Val Guest
Director Val Guest.jpg
Born Valmond Maurice Grossmann
(1911-12-11)11 December 1911
London, England, UK
Died 10 May 2006(2006-05-10) (aged 94)
Palm Springs, California, USA
Spouse(s) Yolande Donlan (1954–2006)

Val Guest (11 December 1911 – 10 May 2006) was a British film director,[1] best known for his science-fiction films for Hammer Film Productions in the 1950s, but who also enjoyed a long, varied and active career in the film industry from the early 1930s up until the early 1980s.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born Valmond Maurice Grossmann[2] in Maida Vale, London, England, and educated at Seaford College.[3] Guest's initial career was as an actor, appearing in various productions in London theatres. He also appeared in a few early sound film roles, before he gave up an acting career and moved into writing. For a time in the early 1930s he was the London correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter trade paper,[3] before he began working on film screenplays for Gainsborough Pictures, his first being No Monkey Business directed by Marcel Varnel in 1935. This was to be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between screenwriter Guest and director Varnel.

Directing career[edit]

He wrote screenplays for the rest of the decade, including working on scripts for Will Hay, as well as some film scores, before in the early 1940s becoming a director, with his debut feature in this role being Miss London Ltd. in 1943. He went on to direct, produce and script a huge number of films over the following forty years, with perhaps his best known work being on the first two Hammer Films Quatermass science-fiction adaptations in the 1950s: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (1957). He also directed the cult science-fiction films The Abominable Snowman (1957) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) (which won him a BAFTA Award with Wolf Mankowitz for Best Screenplay). He also directed and wrote the screenplay for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).

Casino Royale[edit]

Guest was one of several directors to work on the spoof James Bond film Casino Royale (1967). After the early departure of Peter Sellers from the project, producer Charles K. Feldman asked Guest if he would direct linking material to make what was left uncompleted a coherent narrative. Feldman initially wanted Guest to be given the credit of 'Supervising Director', but when Guest saw the finished product, he opted for an 'Additional Sequences' credit instead.

Later films[edit]

In 1972 he directed the soft core sex comedy Au Pair Girls and in 1974 he followed this by directing the first of the Confessions of... series of sex comedy films, Confessions of a Window Cleaner. Guest's last feature film work was writing and directing The Boys in Blue in 1982, a vehicle for the then popular British comedy double act Cannon and Ball. The film was a remake of an earlier picture called Ask a Policeman, released in 1939, which Guest himself had co-written.

Other works[edit]

He also worked, albeit less extensively, in television, directing episodes of various 1970s series such as Space: 1999, The Adventurer and The Persuaders!, for the latter of which he also wrote an episode. His last professional work was as the director of several episodes of the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense series in 1984 and 1985.

An autobiography, So You Want to be in Pictures, was published in 2001.

He married the actress Yolande Donlan in 1954. They lived together in retirement in California.

In 2004, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to Guest and Donlan.[4]

Filmography[edit]

Director

Screenwriter

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b9eef304b
  2. ^ Steve Chibnall, "Guest, Val", in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008, ed. Lawrence Goldman, p. 465.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Hawtree, Val Guest obituary, The Guardian, 16 May 2006.
  4. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated

External links[edit]