Sandy Whitelaw

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Alexander "Sandy" Whitelaw (28 April 1930 – 20 February 2015) was a British actor, producer, director and subtitler.

Early life[edit]

Whitelaw was born in London and educated in Switzerland, the UK and the United States.[1] He represented Britain as a skier in the 1956 Olympics.[2][3]

Filmmaking career[edit]

Whitelaw's film career began when he worked as an assistant to the producer David O. Selznick on the 1957 film A Farewell to Arms. He also worked for the production company Hecht-Lancaster. He went on to work for United Artists in a number of capacities, including as head of production for UA Europe.

At this time he was based in London and worked on films including Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), Federico Fellini’s Roma (1972) and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Decameron (1971).[1] He directed two films: Lifespan (1974), which starred Klaus Kinski, and Vicious Circles (1997), which starred Ben Gazzara.[1] He acted in a number of films including The American Friend (1977), Broken English (1981) and The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005).[4]

Whitelaw began to work as a subtitler in the 1970s in Paris. It was the producer Pierre Cottrell who suggested that he subtitle Jean Eustache's film Mes petites amoureuses.[5] He continued to work as a subtitler for four decades.

Films subtitled[edit]

Whitelaw provided English subtitles for more than 1000 films over a period of several decades. He once called it "like getting paid to do crosswords".[6] One of the more challenging jobs he took on was the subtitling, with Stephen O'Shea, of Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 film La Haine. Their subtitles for this film received considerable critical attention.[7][8]

Notable titles subtitled by Whitelaw include:[2][6]


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Vincent mit l'âne dans un pré (et s'en vint dans l'autre) Jérôme
1977 The American Friend Arzt in Paris
1977 Les apprentis sorcier
1978 Robert et Robert Le guide anglais
1978 La Tortue sur le dos Prokosch
1979 Lady Oscar Un invité au bal noir
1981 Beau-père Le père de la jeune fille (anniversaire) Uncredited
1981 Broken English Arms Dealer
1982 All Fired Up
1982 Enigma
1984 Notorious Nobodies
2005 The Beat That My Heart Skipped Mr. Fox
2012 Au galop Homme veillée (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c "Former United Artists Exec Sandy Whitelaw Dies at 84".
  2. ^ a b "Sandy Whitelaw obituary".
  3. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Sandy Whitelaw Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Sandy Whitelaw imdb page".
  5. ^ "Rod Glacial, Profession Sous-Titreur. Trois Couleurs 121, May 2014".
  6. ^ a b "Anthony Paletta, Lost in Translation, Found in Subtitles, New York Times, 3 October 2012".
  7. ^ "Pierre-Alexis Mével. The Translation of Identity: Subtitling the Vernacular of the French cité". In MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities 2 (2007), pp.49-56.
  8. ^ "A Raw French Film Survives Translation".

External links[edit]