Roland Pertwee

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Roland Pertwee
Born Roland Pertwee
(1885-05-17)17 May 1885
Steyning, Sussex, England
Died 26 April 1963(1963-04-26) (aged 77)
Maidstone, Kent, England
Occupation Writer, playwright, director, actor
Period 20th century

Roland Pertwee (17 May 1885[1] – 26 April 1963[2]) was an English playwright, film and television screenwriter, director and actor. He was the father of Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee and fellow playwright and screenwriter Michael Pertwee.[3] He was also the second cousin of actor Bill Pertwee and grandfather of actors Sean Pertwee and Dariel Pertwee.

From the 1910s to 1950s, he worked as a writer on many British films, providing either the basic story or full screenplay. He was one of numerous writers working on the script of A Yank at Oxford starring Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh, the film in which his son Jon made his screen debut, and on Caravan.[4]

While he seemingly preferred writing, he acted in ten films (1915–45) and directed Breach of Promise (1942), which he also wrote.

Career[edit]

Pertwee began as a painter. He got a scholarship to Royal Academy Schools at age 17 and exhibited his first portrait at the Royal Academy two years later. He studied in Paris then returned to London. He began to write and act.[5]

Pertwee married in 1911 and he and his wife went to Australia for a year, while Pertwee appeared on stage with a touring company. He and his wife had two children.[6] He worked as a musician and as an actor.[7][8]

His writing career really began in 1914 when four short plays by Pertwee, including Swank, were produced in London.[9][10]

Pertwee had a role in Caste (1915). He could also be seen in The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1916). The following year a novel The Transactions of Lord Louis Lewis was published.[11]

He went into the army in 1916 and was invalided out in Christmas 1917.[6]

He adapted a play Quinneys (1919), in which he also played a small role. He wrote The Bridal Chair (1919), Hope (1919), Charity (1919), The Right Element (1919), Faith (1919), The Last Rose of Summer (1920), and Aunt Rachel (1920).

Pertwee co wrote a play Out to Win (1921) which was filmed in 1921. Pertwee divorced his wife in 1921.[12]

He wrote the plays Creaking Chair (1926) and Interference (1927).

He wrote the scripts for Packing Up (1927), and The Vortex (1928). Interference (1928), based on his play, was filmed in Hollywood.[13]

His play Heatwave, written in collaboration with Denise Robins, was produced at the St James's Theatre, London, in 1929.[14] It was later filmed as The Road to Singapore (1931).

Hollywood[edit]

Pertwee moved to Hollywood, where he wrote I Like Your Nerve (1931)[15], and Honor of the Family (1931). He also wrote a story for Marilyn Miller that was not used.[16] A play The Metropolitan Players had a run on Broadway in 1932.

Back in England he did Murder on the Second Floor (1932); Love Me, Love My Dog (1932); Postal Orders (1932); Impromptu (1932); Help Yourself (1932); A Voice Said Goodnight (1932); A Letter of Warning (1932); The Silver Greyhound(1932); Illegal (1932); Blind Spot (1932); Sleeping Car (1933), for Anatole Litvak; The Ghoul (1933) with Boris Karloff and The Crucifix (1934).

In 1934 Pertwee signed a contract with Columbia Pictures.[17]

Pertwee also wrote British Agent (1934), directed by Michael Curtiz and The Night of the Party (1935), based on his play, directed by Michael Powell. He was credited on Honours Easy (1935), based on his play, and Man of the Moment (1935). Without Regret (1935) was based on his play.

In 1936 it was announced Alfred Hitchcock would film his novel Such an Enmity but no movie resulted.[18]

He did some work on the scripts for Two's Company (1936) and King Solomon's Mines (1937). He wrote Non-Stop New York (1937), and Dinner at the Ritz (1937), and was one of many writers on A Yank at Oxford (1938).[19]

Pertwee wrote Kicking Around the Moon (1938), The Ware Case (1938), and wrote A Voice Said Goodnight (1938) for TV.

World War Two[edit]

He wrote A Spy in Black (1939) and adapted The Four Just Men (1939) in which he also had an acting role. He wrote Young Man's Fancy (1939), They Came by Night (1940), Return to Yesterday (1940), and The Proud Valley (1940). He wrote a short, Dangerous Comment (1940), and did It Happened to One Man (1940), and Freedom Radio (1941). In 1940 his autobiography Master of None was published.[20]

Pertwee wrote Pimpernel Smith (1941) and had a small role on screen. He appeared in The Day Will Dawn (1942), Talk About Jacqueline (1942), The Gentle Sex (1943), The Halfway House (1944), They Were Sisters (1945), Nightbeat (1947).

As a writer he did Jeannie (1941), Breach of Promise (1942) (which he also directed), Talk About Jacqueline (1942), The Gentle Sex (1943), The Lamp Still Burns (1943), The Night Invader (1943), and The Halfway House (1944).

Gainsborough[edit]

Pertwee went to Gainsborough to work on the melodramas Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945), They Were Sisters (1945), Caravan (1946), and The Magic Bow (1946).

His play Pink String and Sealing Wax was filmed in 1945. He wrote Nightbeat (1947), Silent Dust (1949) (based on his play The Paragon), Diamond City (1949), and Captain Blackjack (1950). He wrote for TV on Rheingold Theatre and did the feature Give Them a Ring (1954).

The Grove Family[edit]

In 1954, he and his elder son Michael created The Grove Family - generally regarded as being the first soap opera on British television[21] - for the BBC. Having previously written an episode of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents, this marked Pertwee's second and final foray into television writing. Like many BBC television productions of the era, it was broadcast live. At its height, the series had drawn in almost a quarter of British people who owned a television. Reportedly, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother was a great fan

A film version, entitled It's a Great Day, was produced in 1955, likewise written by the Pertwees.

His final feature credit was Not Wanted on Voyage (1957).

Juvenile fiction[edit]

Pertwee also wrote a number of works of juvenile fiction, most prominently the series The Islanders, which serves up typical Boy's Own adventure with a strong field sports theme. The Islanders (1950) and Rough Water (1951) tell the adventures of three boys with the run of a sporting estate in the wild Devon countryside during a summer holiday. The third book, Operation Wild Goose (1955), takes place some years later, on a trip to Iceland, where the boys come up against Russian spies, in between landing fat salmon.

A further book, An Actor's Life For Me (1953), features just one of the Islanders boys, Nick, as he follows his parents onto the stage.

Pertwee wrote two short stories, "The River God" and "Fish Are Such Liars" which are now considered[by whom?] classics and have been anthologized in the book, Fisherman's Bounty, edited by Nick Lyons, and originally published by Crown in 1970, then by Fireside in 1988.

Later years and death[edit]

Following the cancellation of The Grove Family in 1957, Pertwee retired from writing. He died in April 1963, three weeks before his 78th birthday.

Acting credits[edit]

Select films[edit]

Stage[edit]

Writing credits[edit]

Screenwriter[edit]

Plays turned into films[edit]

Short stories[edit]

  • A Call on the Country[26]
  • Camouflage (1917)[27]
  • Jackie Play Alone (1918)[28]
  • Delayed It May Be (1918)[29]
  • The Hero (1918)
  • Why Not? (1919)
  • The RedMoth (1920)[30]
  • The Little Princess (1920)[31][32]
  • A Silly Thing to Do (1921)[33]
  • The Man Who Didn't Matter (1922)[34]
  • Men of Affairs (1922)
  • The Chap Upstairs (1922)
  • The Money Spider's Web (1923)
  • The eagle and the Wren (1923)
  • Security (1926)
  • A Trial Run (1926)[35]
  • The Common Cause (1926)
  • Rodney Darling (1927)
  • A Modern Knight Errant (1927)
  • A Bowl of Contention (1928)
  • Sentiment to the Rescue (1928)
  • The Fox and the Eggs (1929)
  • Empty Arms (1931)[36]
  • Damaged Sixpence (1937)
  • The Governor's Lady and Judy O'Grady (1937)
  • A Chalk Stream Killing (1939)
  • Irene Marries Money (1939)
  • Greater London (1943)[37]
  • Move Brittania (1945)[38]
  • Reflected Glory (1952)[39]

Novels[edit]

  • Transactions of Lord Louis Lewis (1917)
  • The Old Card (1918)[40]
  • Our Wonderful Selves (1919)[41]
  • Out to Win (1922) - based on tfhe play
  • The Singing Wells (1923)
  • A South Sea Bubble (1924) or Treasure Trail
  • Rivers to Cross (1926)
  • The Romance of Nikko Cheyne (1927)
  • Gentlemen March (1927)
  • Interference (1927) - based on his play
  • Pursuit (1931)
  • It Means Mischief (1931)
  • A Price of Romance (1932)
  • No Such Word (1934)
  • Morosco (1934)
  • Four Winds (1935)
  • Such an Enmity (1936)
  • 'The Camelion's Dish (1940)[42]
  • Lovers Are Losers (1941)
  • The Utterly Udder (1952)

Plays[edit]

  • Swank, Falling Upstairs, Vantage Out, and The Return of Imray - four short plays (1914)
  • Out to Win (1921)
  • I Serve (1922)[43]
  • The Loveliest Thing (1923)
  • Interference (1927) with Harold Deane
  • The Odd Streak (1927)
  • Evening Dress Indispensable
  • It Might Happen to Anyone
  • The Spider (1928)
  • Honours Easy (1930)
  • Fly Away Birdie
  • Pink String and Sealing Wax (1943)
  • The Paragon with Michael Pertwee - filmed as Silent Dust
  • To Kill a Cat with Harold Dearden
  • Evening Dress Indispensable
  • Postal Orders
  • School for Spinsters
  • Night was Our Friend
  • Ladies in Retirement with Michael Pertwee
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • The Cord

Junior fiction[edit]

  • The Islanders (1951)
  • Rough Water (1952)[44]
  • An Actor's Life for Me (1953)
  • Young Harry Tremayne (1954)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "findmypast.co.uk". search.findmypast.co.uk. 
  2. ^ "findmypast.co.uk". search.findmypast.co.uk. 
  3. ^ "NAMES ARE HIS GAME". The Australian Women's Weekly. 42, (31). Australia, Australia. 1 January 1975. p. 18. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ "NEW FILMS REVIEWED". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 8 February 1947. p. 12. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ ROLAND PERTWEE. Los Angeles Times (1886-1922); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]24 Aug 1919: III32
  6. ^ a b "LEFT FOR LOVE". World. VI, (238). Tasmania, Australia. 6 October 1921. p. 6. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "PRIVATE LIVES". The Sydney Morning Herald (31,903). New South Wales, Australia. 30 March 1940. p. 12. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "MAN OF MANY PARTS". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 6 July 1940. p. 6 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "Mainly About People". The Daily News. XXXIII, (12,193). Western Australia. 29 July 1914. p. 5 (THIRD EDITION). Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ ROLAND PERTWEE, PLAYWRIGHT, DIES: Film Writer and Novelist Studied Art With Sargent New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]28 Apr 1963: 88.
  11. ^ "LORD LOUIS LEWIS IS WELL WORTH KNOWING!". Geelong Advertiser (21,928). Victoria, Australia. 18 August 1917. p. 8. Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ "AUTHOR'S FIND". Truth. , (950). Western Australia. 15 October 1921. p. 8. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  13. ^ ""INTERFERENCE"". Table Talk (3168). Victoria, Australia. 24 January 1929. p. 27. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  14. ^ Robins, Denise, Stranger Than Fiction (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1965, autobiography)
  15. ^ "PICTURES and PLAYS". The World's News (1535). New South Wales, Australia. 13 May 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  16. ^ "BEST-PAID IDLER". The Mail (Adelaide). 20, (999). South Australia. 18 July 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  17. ^ "FOR HOLLYWOOD". Morning Bulletin (21,104). Queensland, Australia. 14 March 1934. p. 11. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  18. ^ "Wait Disney's". The Mercury. CXLVIII, (21,068). Tasmania, Australia. 4 June 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  19. ^ "PICTURES AND PERSONALITIES. The TECHNICOLOR ART". The Mercury. CXLVIII, (21,015). Tasmania, Australia. 2 April 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  20. ^ "MAN OF MANY PARTS". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 6 July 1940. p. 6 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  21. ^ "Grove Family, The (1954–57)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  22. ^ BFI Screenonline
  23. ^ They Were Sisters
  24. ^ "LONDON SEASON, 1928". The Sydney Morning Herald (28,269). New South Wales, Australia. 11 August 1928. p. 11. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  25. ^ in a short (15 min) and a long (35 min) version, see IMDb. As prose The voice that said Goodnight., in Crime stories from the 'Strand', ed. Geraldine Beare, London 1961; in German: Die Stimme, die 'Gute Nacht' sagte. Transl. Richard Fenzl, in Classical Detective Stories - Klassische Detektivgeschichten, Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag dtv, Munich 1993, p. 198 - 243
  26. ^ "A CALL ON THE COUNTRY". The Journal. LII, (14254). South Australia. 24 February 1917. p. 7 (NIGHT EDITION). Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  27. ^ "GENERAL NEWS". The Advertiser. LIX, (18,313). South Australia. 23 June 1917. p. 6. Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  28. ^ "JACKIE PLAY-ALONE". Leader (3237). Victoria, Australia. 26 January 1918. p. 50 (WEEKLY). Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  29. ^ ""THE NEW MAGAZINE."". The Telegraph (14,346). Queensland, Australia. 16 November 1918. p. 9 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  30. ^ "THE MARCH MAGAZINES". The Week. LXXXIX, (2,316). Queensland, Australia. 14 May 1920. p. 26. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  31. ^ "A Story in Two Parts". Chronicle. LXIII, (3,332). South Australia. 31 July 1920. p. 40. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  32. ^ "A Story in Two Parts". Chronicle. LXIII, (3,333). South Australia. 7 August 1920. p. 40. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  33. ^ "A SILLY THING TO DO". The Age (20,661). Victoria, Australia. 18 June 1921. p. 19. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  34. ^ "Tripped". Shepparton Advertiser (3902). Victoria, Australia. 5 January 1922. p. 4. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  35. ^ "The Story Pages". Chronicle. LXVIII, (3,631). South Australia. 24 April 1926. p. 63. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  36. ^ "EMPTY ARMS". Queensland Figaro. XXXVIII, (33). Queensland, Australia. 29 August 1931. p. 15. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  37. ^ "Greater London". The World's News (2151). New South Wales, Australia. 27 February 1943. p. 16. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  38. ^ "Move, Britannia". The Australasian. CLIX, (5,054). Victoria, Australia. 10 November 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  39. ^ "This week:". The Australian Women's Weekly. 19, (46). Australia, Australia. 16 April 1952. p. 10. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  40. ^ "Books and Writers". Table Talk (1732). Victoria, Australia. 3 October 1918. p. 34. Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  41. ^ "THE LITERARY PAGE". The Register (Adelaide). LXXXIV, (22,597). South Australia. 12 April 1919. p. 4. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  42. ^ "SERIOUS STUDY BY ROLAND PERTWEE". The Mail (Adelaide). 29, (1,485). South Australia. 9 November 1940. p. 3 (Supplement to "THE MAIL" MAGAZINE SECTION). Retrieved 28 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  43. ^ "FROM LONDON TOWN". The Week. XCIV, (2,448). Queensland, Australia. 24 November 1922. p. 22. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  44. ^ "JUNIOR BOOKSHELF". The Age (30233). Victoria, Australia. 22 March 1952. p. 17. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]