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Frend was born in Pulborough, Sussex, on 21 November 1909 and was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and at Oxford University, where he was the film critic of The Isis Magazine. He began his career in the film industry at British International Pictures in 1931, and after editing Alfred Hitchcock's Waltzes from Vienna (1934) moved to Gaumont British Pictures, where he worked as an editor on Hitchcock's films Secret Agent, Sabotage (both 1936) and Young and Innocent (1937).
For a time, Frend worked for MGM British at Denham Film Studios, where he edited A Yank at Oxford (1938), The Citadel (1938) and Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939). Frend graduated to director in 1942, with a series of above-average propaganda pictures and documentaries. After the war, he undertook several prestigious assignments including Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Cruel Sea (1953) for Ealing Studios. While most of his films were large-scale and dramatic in nature, Frend was also capable of turning out modest comedies such as A Run for Your Money (1949) and Barnacle Bill (1957).
Frend directed episodes of Danger Man (1960–61), along with several other television series. His last credit as principal director was The Sky Bike (1967) for the Children's Film Foundation. He closed his career as one of the second-unit directors for David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970).
He died in London on 8 January 1977, aged 67.
- 1942: The Big Blockade
- 1943: The Foreman Went to France
- 1943: San Demetrio London
- 1945: The Return of the Vikings
- 1945: Johnny Frenchman
- 1947: The Loves of Joanna Godden
- 1948: Scott of the Antarctic
- 1949: A Run for Your Money
- 1950: The Magnet
- 1953: The Cruel Sea
- 1954: Lease of Life
- 1956: The Long Arm
- 1957: Barnacle Bill
- 1960: Cone of Silence
- 1961: Girl on Approval
- 1963: Torpedo Bay
- 1967: The Sky Bike
- Hunt, Martin. "Frend, Charles (1909-1977)". BFI ScreenOnline. Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2014-08-24.
- "Frend, Charles (1909-1977)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
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