Paul Almond began his career in 1954 when he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) as the youngest producer-director in its history. He subsequently has produced and directed over one hundred TV dramas, employing a directorial style, that uses improvisational techniques, an outgrowth of his visits to the Actors Studio. Among the major actors who have appeared in Almond-directed productions include Rosemary Harris, Kate Reid, Hugh Griffiths, Gwen Ffrancon-Davies and numerous others.
The Montreal-born Almond actually began writing plays as a child and had his first professional production at age eleven. After attending Oxford where he began acting, he toured France in a production of "The Duchess of Malfi" directed by Tony Richardson, then returned to Canada to write a novel, before joining the CBC. Almond worked in TV in Canada and London, where he directed such productions as "The Rose Tattoo" for Grenada Television. In 1960, General Motors refused to sponsor his production of "Shadow of a Pale Horse", claiming a lynching scene was too realistic; it aired on Canadian TV intact. Five years later, he directed "Romeo and Jeannette" which introduced Genevieve Bujold and Michael Sarrazin. Almond began directing documentaries, including religious films set in Israel and Jordan, a study of his then-wife ballerina Angela Leigh, and film about life on the Gaspe Coast where he was raised. Almond made the jump to US TV and directed episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "For the People" (CBS, 1965), which starred William Shatner as a crusading assistant district attorney in NYC.
Almond directed "7 Up" (1963), the first installment of a series of documentaries that followed the lives of a group of Britishers at seven year intervals. His assistant Michael Apted later handled the other installments. Almond's first fictional film was "Isabel" (1967), starring Genevieve Bujold (whom he married that year; they divorced in 1973) and was inspired by his youth. He subsequently wrote, directed and produced "Act of the Heart" (1970), a study of religious fanaticism centering on a young woman (Bujold) in love with a Catholic priest (Donald Sutherland). "Journey" (1972), again featuring Bujold, was a gorgeously shot story about a woman rescued from drowning by the leader of a wilderness commune.
It was eight years before Almond returned behind the camera. He assumed the director's chair of the troubled "Final Assignment" (1980), which despite a cast that included Bujold, Burgess Meredith, Michael York and Colleen Dewhurst, ultimately was done in by a poor script. A change of pace comedy "Ups & Downs" (1983) followed. Using a cast of mostly non-professionals, Almond depicted the relationships between a group youths at a boarding school. "Captive Hearts" (1987) was a wartime romance centering on the relationship between an American soldier held prisoner in a Japanese farming community and a local girl. His "The Dance Goes On ..." (1991) was a personal chronicle of a father son-relationship which featured his own son Matthew in one of the central roles.
In addition to his feature and TV work, Almond has produced and directed numerous stage plays. Since the 1990s, he has concentrated on writing books. In 1999, "La Vengeance des Dieux", a French translation of one of Almond's novels-- about an asteroid due to hit the Earth--was published in Canada. That same year, Almond and Michael Ballantyne produced the fascinating non-fiction "High Hopes: Coming of Age at the Mid-Century", a collection of letters, including such notable correspondents as Christopher Isherwood and Sean O'Casey.