Roy William Neill

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Roy William Neill
Roy William Neill in 1921
Born(1887-09-04)4 September 1887
Died14 December 1946(1946-12-14) (aged 59)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1917–1946

Roy William Neill (4 September 1887 – 14 December 1946) was an Irish-born American film director best known for directing the last eleven of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, made between 1943 and 1946 and released by Universal Studios.[1]


1919 film crew (from left): Thomas Walsh (assistant director), Ned Van Buen (camera operator), Edward James (assistant director), Edward Wynard (camera operator), Neill (director, seated)

With his father as the captain, Roy William Neill was born on a ship off the coast of Ireland. His birth name was Roland de Gostrie. Neill began directing silent films in 1917 and went on to helm 111 films, 55 of them silent. Although most of Neill's films were low-budget B-movies, he was known for directing films with meticulously lit scenes with carefully layered shadows that would become the style of film noir in the late 1940s. In fact, his last film, Black Angel (1946), is considered a film noir.

He was also credited in some works as R. William Neill, Roy W. Neill, and Roy Neill. Neill lived in the United States for most of his career and was a US citizen. He did go to London from 1935 until 1940 where better opportunities existed for American directors. During this period, British film producer Edward Black hired Neill to direct The Lady Vanishes. However, due to delays in production, Black hired Alfred Hitchcock to direct instead.

Neill died in London, England, from a heart attack.



  1. ^ T.S. (8 October 1943). "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) At the Palace". The New York Times.

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