Ken Russell

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Known for his obsessive explorations of sexuality, religion, music and history via a prism of stylized excess, filmmaker Ken Russell continually courted controversy, finding himself alternately accused of being a ... Read more »
Born: 07/03/1927 in Southampton, England, GB

Filmography

Director (29)

Kings X 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Lady Chatterley 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

The Fall of the Louse of Usher 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Trapped Ashes 2007 (Movie)

("The Girl with the Golden Breasts") (Director)

Mindbender 1995 (Movie)

(Director)

The Insatiable Mrs. Kirsch 1993 (Movie)

(Director)

Whore 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

The Rainbow 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Aria 1988 (Movie)

("Turandot") (Director)

Salome's Last Dance 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

The Lair of the White Worm 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Gothic 1987 (Movie)

(Director)

Crimes of Passion 1984 (Movie)

(Director)

Altered States 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

Valentino 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Lisztomania 1976 (Movie)

(Director)

Tommy 1975 (Movie)

(Director)

Mahler 1974 (Movie)

(Director)

Savage Messiah 1972 (Movie)

(Director)

The Boy Friend 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

The Devils 1970 (Movie)

(Director)

The Music Lovers 1970 (Movie)

(Director)

Women in Love 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

Billion Dollar Brain 1967 (Movie)

(Director)

French Dressing 1963 (Movie)

(Director)

Amelia and the Angel 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

Dogboys (TV Show)

Director

Prisoner of Honor (TV Show)

Director
Writer (14)

Lady Chatterley 2014 (Movie)

revised screenplay (Screenplay)

Mindbender 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Insatiable Mrs. Kirsch 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Whore 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Rainbow 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Aria 1988 (Movie)

("Turandot") (Screenplay)

Salome's Last Dance 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Lair of the White Worm 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Valentino 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Lisztomania 1976 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tommy 1975 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mahler 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Boy Friend 1971 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Devils 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Actor (9)

Lady Chatterley 2014 (Movie)

Sir Michael Reid (Actor)

The Fall of the Louse of Usher 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Color Me Kubrick 2007 (Movie)

The Man in a Nightgown (Actor)

Brothers of the Head 2006 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Miss Marple, Series II: The Moving Finger 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Great Composers 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Who's Tommy: The Amazing Journey 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The Russia House 1990 (Movie)

Walter (Actor)

Salome's Last Dance 1988 (Movie)

Cappadodem (Actor)
Producer (7)

The Rainbow 1989 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Lair of the White Worm 1988 (Movie)

(Producer)

Tommy 1975 (Movie)

(Producer)

Savage Messiah 1972 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Boy Friend 1971 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Devils 1970 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Music Lovers 1970 (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Known for his obsessive explorations of sexuality, religion, music and history via a prism of stylized excess, filmmaker Ken Russell continually courted controversy, finding himself alternately accused of being a purveyor of filth by his detractors, and hailed as a visionary and the successor to Fellini by his supporters. After winning acclaim for early biographical dramas that included "Elgar" (1962) and "Song of Summer" (1968), Russell stunned theatergoers and critics alike with his adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love" (1969). From this point forward, the director seemed far less interested in being a critical darling than in becoming a cinematic agent provocateur of the highest order. Films like "The Devils" (1971), "Tommy" (1975), "Altered States" (1980), "Crimes of Passion" (1984) and "Whore" (1991) where just as likely to attract praise and box office success as they were condemnation, if not outright censorship. A period of unremarkable made-for-television projects in the mid-1990s preceded a series of self-produced video shorts, sporting titles like "The Fall of the House of Usher: A Gothic Tale for the 21st Century" (2002) and "Revenge of the Elephant Man" (2004). Despite the paucity of budget and the limited distribution of these latter films, one thing was for certain - the mercurial filmmaker was still making precisely the movies he wanted to make, and love him or loathe him, there was no mistaking Ken Russell's work for that of anyone else.

Relationships

Ethel Russell

Mother

Hetty Baynes Actor

Wife
Married in 1992 Separated in 1996 Divorced in 1999

Henry Russell

Father

Molly Russell Actor

Daughter
Mother, Vivian Jolly Russell; directed by father in "The Rainbow" (1989)

Shirley Russell Costume Designer

Wife
She designed costumes for seven of his films including "Women in Love" (1970), "Savage Messiah" (1972) and "Tommy" (1975); received Oscar nominations for "Agatha" (1979) and "Reds" (1981) Married in 1956 Mother of five of his children Divorced in 1978 Died on March 4, 2002 at age 66

Victoria Russell

Daughter
Mother, Shirley Russell; appeared in two of her father's films and worked on costumes for two others

Vivian Russell Screenplay

Wife
Married on June 10, 1984 Wrote script for "The Rainbow" (1989) Divorced in 1991

Alex Russell

Son
Mother, Shirley Russell

Xavier Russell Editor

Son
Mother, Shirley Russell; worked on several of his father's films

James Russell

Son
Mother, Shirley Russell

Rupert Russell

Son
Mother, Vivian Jolly Russell

Toby Russell

Son
Mother, Vivian Jolly Russell

Raymond Russell

Brother
Born c. 1932

Lisi Tribble

Wife
Married in 2001 until his death on Nov. 27, 2011

EDUCATION

International Ballet School

1950
won scholarship but proved inept and was asked to leave shortly after enrolling

Walthamstow Art School

1949
met future wife Shirley Kingdon

Pangbourne Nautical College

1941 - 1944

Milestones

2010

Acted alongside Rhys Ifans, Chloë Sevigny and David Thewlis in "Mr. Nice"

2007

Joined the cast of the U.K. reality series "Celebrity Big Brother" (Channel 4)

2006

Final directorial project, the segment titled "The Girl With Golden Breasts" in the horror anthology "Trapped Ashes"

2002

Wrote, directed, and appeared in "The Fall of the Louse of Usher: A Gothic Tale for the 21st Century"

2000

Wrote and directed short film "Lion's Mouth"; screened on the Internet

1998

Directed The Movie Channel's "Dogboys"

1994

Contributed 27-minute "The Insatiable Mrs Kirsch" to executive producer Regina Ziegler's six-part "Erotic Tales"

1993

Returned to the work of Lawrence, directing four-part miniseries "Lady Chatterly" (BBC), adapted from "Lady Chatterly's Lover"

1991

Second assignment for HBO, directing "Prisoner of Honor," a movie about a turn of the century anti-Semitic French army officer who challenged the massive government cover up in the imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus

1991

Directed the pseudo-documentary "Whore"; also wrote screenplay

1990

Directed first U.S. TV production, "Dusk Before Fireworks" segment of "Women and Men: Stories of Seduction" (HBO)

1989

Second Lawrence adaptation, "The Rainbow"; fifth and last (to date) feature with Jackson

1988

Made feature acting debut in "Salome's Last Dance"; also directed

1986

Directed highbrow horror film "Gothic," filled with trademark hallucinatory visuals

1980

Returned to the winner's column with "Altered States" although screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky disowned the final film, which was based on a Chayefsky novel

1975

Commercial hit as the writer and director of The Who's "Tommy"; last feature with Reed

1972

Filmed "Savage Messiah", adapted from the H. S. Ede biography of the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska from which he had drawn great strength at a low point in his life

1970

First feature as producer, "The Music Lovers"; also directed; second film with Jackson

1970

First screenplay credit, "The Devils", adapted from the John Whiting play based on Aldous Huxley's "The Devils of Loudon"; also directed and produced; Reed starred as Father Urbain Grandier

1969

Gained international attention with film "Women in Love"; Reed portrayed rich young mine owner Gerald Crich; first of five features with actress Glenda Jackson, who won an Oscar for her performance; film garnered controversy over its nude male wrestling s

1967

Cast Reed as Dante Gabriel Rosetti in "Dante's Inferno"

1965

Worked with actor Oliver Reed in "The Debussy Film"; went around BBC restrictions on using actors to represent historical figures by building the picture around a group of actors making a film about Debussy

1964

First feature film as director, "French Dressing"

1962

Secured permission to use actors in "Elgar" on condition that they appeared only in long shot and spoke no dialogue

1959

Began working as director for the BBC arts series "Monitor"

1956

Made first amateur short film, "Peepshow"

1946

Served with Royal Air Force

1944

Entered Merchant Navy; released due to nervous breakdown

Began to direct stage operas in 1980s; directed in England, Australia, Italy and Greece

Worked with British Dance Theatre, London Theatre Ballet, NY Norsk Ballet, and in provincial repertory theater

Worked as freelance still photographer

Bonus Trivia

.

Asked about the weirdest place he had ever vomited: "A coal bucket in Upper Norwood... I'd just been to a press showing of my first feature film, 'French Dressing,' and I didn't know that it wasn't good form to go. I was asked not to as it was a press showing but after the film I just talked to the only person who would talk to me, the film critic of The Bombay Times, who loved it. All the rest universally condemned it. I was so upset. It was a sherry party so I got drunk on sherry. I remember tottering along Regent Street and collapsing in a doorway of what used to be a bank. I was moved on by a policeman so I stumbled down to Green Park and slept until it was dark. Then I got a 74 bus home to Upper Norwood and collapsed on the bed where I said to my wife at the time, 'I think I'm going to throw up!' and she conveniently brought a coal bucket over and I did. So that's the end of that. I never listened to the critics again." – Russell quoted in Empire, November 1997

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