David Lean

Director, Producer, Screenwriter
A consummate craftsman whose sweeping historical epics were mere backdrops for the larger-than-life characters that populated his films, director David Lean helmed some of the grandest movies ever made by Hollywood ... Read more »
Born: 03/25/1908 in Croydon, England, GB

Filmography

Director (12)

A Passage to India 1984 (Movie)

(Director)

Ryan's Daughter 1970 (Movie)

(Director)

Doctor Zhivago 1965 (Movie)

(Director)

Lawrence of Arabia 1962 (Movie)

(Director)

The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

Summertime 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Hobson's Choice 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

Oliver Twist 1947 (Movie)

(Director)

Blithe Spirit 1945 (Movie)

(Director)

Brief Encounter 1945 (Movie)

(Director)

In Which We Serve (Movie)

(Director)

Major Barbara (Movie)

(Director)
Editor (7)

Manzo'd With Children 2015 (Tv Show)

Editor

A Passage to India 1984 (Movie)

(Editor)

Pygmalion 1938 (Movie)

(Editor)

Escape Me Never 1934 (Movie)

(Editor)

French Without Tears (Movie)

(Editor)

In Which We Serve (Movie)

(Editor)
Writer (6)

A Passage to India 1984 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Summertime 1955 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Hobson's Choice 1954 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Oliver Twist 1947 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Blithe Spirit 1945 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Brief Encounter 1945 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Actor (2)

Champlin on Film 1989 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (2)

Lawrence of Arabia 1962 (Movie)

(Producer)

Hobson's Choice 1954 (Movie)

(Producer)
Other (1)

Lawrence of Arabia 1962 (Movie)

assistance (Assistant)

Biography

A consummate craftsman whose sweeping historical epics were mere backdrops for the larger-than-life characters that populated his films, director David Lean helmed some of the grandest movies ever made by Hollywood. After receiving his start as an editor, Lean segued into directing with smaller films like "Blithe Spirit" (1945) and "Brief Encounter" (1946), which often showed hints of the grand scale that was to come. Following excellent adaptations of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" (1946) and "Oliver Twist" (1948), he went into a bit of a lull that nonetheless saw him make the compelling romantic drama "Summertime" (1955). But what followed was a series of three films that cemented his place as one of the greatest directors of all time, starting with "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" (1957), a widescreen WWII epic that displayed an unusual elegance despite its depiction of wartime prisoners suffering from a relentless and unyielding camp commander. Next was "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), an iconic historical drama about the adventures of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) that featured some of the most memorable images ever filmed, and went on to win numerous Academy Awards while earning its place as one of the greatest movies ever made. Lean followed this cinematic triumph with "Doctor Zhivago" (1965), a massive box office success that managed to tell a deeply intense personal romance set against the large scale turbulence off revolutionary Russia. After suffering a critical drubbing with his next film, "Ryan's Daughter" (1970), Lean waited 14 years to release his next film, "A Passage to India" (1984), which was a welcome return to the epic landscape previously occupied by "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia."

Relationships

Francis William le Blount Lean

Father
married 1904, separated before 1927 Quaker senior partner of accounting firm of Viney, Price and Goodyear in London

Sandra Hotz Actor

Wife

Isabele Lean

Wife

Helena Lean

Mother
married 1904, separated before 1927 Quaker

Peter Lean

Son
mother Isabelle Lean

Edward Lean

Brother
born c. 1911

Sandra Lean

Wife
Met 1985 at frozen food department of Harrods Married December 1990 until his death April 16, 1991

Leila Matkar

Wife

Ann Todd Actor

Wife

Kay Walsh Actor

Wife

EDUCATION

attended a Quaker boarding school in Leighton Park, Reading where he spent spare time going to the movies

Milestones

1991

Production of "Nostromo", his 17th film, halted when Lean became ill with throat cancer (February)

1979

TV directing debut: Lean directed and hosted a documentary on explorer Capt. James Cook, "The Story of Cook's Anchor" for New Zealand TV

1974

Subject of British TV documentary, "David Lean: A Life in Film"

1943

First film as solo director and first film as co-adaptor (with Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan), "This Happy Breed"

1941

First film as co-director (with Noel Coward), "In Which We Serve"

1941

Formed Cineguild with Noel Coward, Ronald Neame 1nd Anthony Havelock-Allan

1935

Began cutting feature films with "Escape Me Never"

1930

Graduated to newsreel editor; then put in charge of Gaumont Sound News

1927

Worked for father's accounting firm at the age of 19 (date approximate)

1927

Began working for Gaumont-British studios as tea-boy, then number-board holder, messenger and camera assistant

Given Kodak Box Brownie camera by uncle at age 12, developed interest in photography

Bonus Trivia

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Lean's films earned 56 Oscar nominations and 28 Oscars. He was nominated as Best Director seven times and won twice.

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Lean left orders that his ashes be strewn over the three areas he loved most: India, Tahiti and Tuscany (where he planned to retire).

.

Named Commander of the British Empire Award for services to cinema in 1953.

.

Awarded L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1968 by the French government

.

He was an honorary life member of the DGA.

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He was made Fellow of the British Film Institute (1983).

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He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984.

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