Carol Reed

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Sir Carol Reed (born December 30, 1906 in Putney , London Borough of Wandsworth , † April 25, 1976 in Chelsea , London ) was a British film director and producer . He has received several awards and received for his film adaptation of the musical Oliver! a director's Oscar .


Carol Reed - the illegitimate son of Herbert Beerbohm Tree and his lover May Pinney - attended King's School in Canterbury . He grew up with many siblings and has always been interested in the theater . In his youth, Reed initially aspired to an acting career, but his parents wanted nothing to do with his plans. After a six-month stay in the United States , where he was supposed to study agriculture , he returned to England and was now allowed to follow his inclinations.

He then completed his acting training. In 1924 he appeared on stage for the first time in London . Carol Reed's preference for outsiders dominated from an early age. In 1927 he came to Edgar Wallace , a detective writer. With him, Reed rose from actor to stage manager and then to film producer . He came to film in the early 1930s. After Wallace died in 1932, Reed worked with Basil Dean . There he was first dialogue director and then deputy director of Ealing Studios . Basil Dean helped him make his cinema debut in 1935.

During the Second World War , Reed was an officer in the British armed forces and, as part of the Army Film Company, made successful documentaries and films about military training aimed at the training of British military personnel. In this area he also worked with Peter Ustinov , among others . He was so successful at it that he was released for the film The Way Ahead .

From 1943 to 1947 he was married to the British actress Diana Wynyard . After the divorce, Reed married actress Penelope Dudley-Ward , the older daughter of Freda Dudley Ward, in 1948 . She is said to have been the mistress of the Prince of Wales , who later became King of the United Kingdom as Edward VIII . With Penelope Dudley Ward he had a son named Max. His step daughter Tracy Reed starred in several films, for example in Dr. Strange or: How I Learned to Love the Bomb . In 1953, Reed was the first British film director to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his life's work.

Carol Reed died at the age of 69 in his home in the London borough of Chelsea after a prolonged illness of a heart attack .


At the age of 29, Reed made his first independent film Midshipman Easy in 1935 and was soon hailed as England's new director. At Ealing Studios , the films Laburnum Grove (1935), Who's Your Lady Friend? , Talk of the Devil (1937), Bank Holiday , Penny Paradise (1938), A Girl Must Live (1939), and A Girl in the News (1941). He wrote the script himself for many films .

Many experts recognize in Reed's early films the proximity to British documentarism of the 1930s. This was also shown in another film called The Stars Look Down (1939). With Night Train to Munich (1940), A Letter from Home , Kipps (1941) and The Young Mr. Pitt (1942) there were other successful films that identified Reed as one of the most artistically gifted and idiosyncratic film directors of his time.

In 1945 Reed made the documentary The True Glory with the American Garson Kanin . For film critic Jürgen Ebert, the film is “one of those precious films in which the art of montage and viewing is still intact […]. The war cannot be looked in the face more soberly than this film does. Thanks to the montage, it does not present itself as a play, but as a pure event ”.

The climax of Reed's work, which also made him famous in Germany, were his films in the late 1940s, such as Ausgestalten (1947), Kleines Herz in Not (1948) and The Third Man (1949), which won an award in Cannes in 1949 and a Became world success. This thriller, which takes place in the Austrian metropolis of Vienna , impresses with its precise lighting with extremely hard light-dark contrasts. The Third Man and Little Heart in Need have played a key role in enabling Reed to gain international recognition.

At the end of his career, Reed tried to prove himself in Hollywood - with success. He directed the biography Michelangelo - Inferno and Ecstasy (1964) with Charlton Heston . In 1969, Reed received the Oscar for best director for the musical film Oliver . The film also received another five Academy Awards. Graham Greene found after the collaboration:

"That Carol Reed is the only director who has an excellent feeling for finding the right actor for the role."

- Graham Greene




  • 1950: Nominated in the category Best Director (for Little Heart in Need )
  • 1951: Nominated in the category Best Director (for The Third Man )
  • 1969: Oscar in the category Best Director (for Oliver )

Berlin International Film Festival

  • 1956: Bronze Bear (for trapeze )


  • 1950: Bodil in the category Best European Film (for Little Heart in Need )

Cannes International Film Festival

New York Film Critics Circle Awards


  • Nicholas Wapshott: The Man Between, A Biography of Carol Reed, London, 1990, ISBN 0-679-40288-8
  • Peter William Evans: Carol Reed . Manchester University Press / Palgrave, Manchester and New York 2005, ISBN 0-7190-6366-3 or ISBN 0-7190-6367-1
  • Robert F. Moss: The Films of Carol Reed, London 1987
  • Jürgen Ebert: The filmed war, In: Hans Helmut Prinzler (Ed.): The year 1945, Berlin 1990, p. 265f.
  • Bernd Jordan: The 100 of the century, film directors, Hamburg: Rowohlt Verlag 1994 ISBN 3-499-16452-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Ustinov: Me and Me. Memories. ECON Verlag, Düsseldorf, Vienna, New York 1990, 360S., ISBN 3-430-19276-5
  2. Munzinger Verlag - Internationales Biographisches Archiv - URL: (fee required)
  3. Quoted from: Norbert Grob. In Reclam's film directors. Biographies, descriptions of works, filmographies. Edited by Thomas Koebner . Stuttgart: Reclam 2008, p. 614 ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4