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Lean, David, Sir

Born: 1908 AD
Died: 1991 AD
Nationality: British
Categories: Film Director

1908 – Born on March 25th in Croydon, Surrey, England. British film director whose literate, epic productions featured spectacular cinematography and stunning locales.

1928 – He began his film career as a teaboy for Gaumont-British studios, where he soon was promoted to clapboard boy, and finally to editor, a position at which he excelled.

1942 – Lean’s collaboration with playwright Noël Coward began when they co-directed the drama In Which We Serve.

1944 – The domestic drama This Happy Breed, is today seen as hopelessly dated because of Coward’s patronizing treatment of the lower middle-class.

1945 – The last of the Coward vehicles, the romantic melodrama Brief Encounter (based on Coward’s play Still Life), was a masterpiece and the first of many Lean films to employ the theme of private obsessions versus outward appearances.

1946-1948 – Two Charles Dickens classics served as source material for Lean’s next efforts. Great Expectations, which garnered Academy Award nominations for best director, picture, and screenplay, is still considered by many to be the finest screen adaptation of a Dickens novel. Oliver Twist is also highly regarded and features a memorable performance by Alec Guinness as Fagin.

1950 – Cineguild disbanded, and Lean began working for British producer Alexander Korda at Shepperton Studios.

1954-1955 – Lean’s films of the late 1940s and early ’50s are regarded as good but unremarkable, highlighted by the standout performances of Charles Laughton in Hobson’s Choice and Katharine Hepburn in Summertime.

1957 – He returned to prominence with the prisoner-of-war drama The Bridge on the River Kwai, a film noted for its psychological battles of will and taut action sequences.

         – It won seven Academy Awards, including best picture and Lean’s first as best director, and has been named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry, a national honour given to films deemed culturally, historically, and artistically significant.

1965-1970 – Dr. Zhivago, a love story set against a backdrop of the Russian Revolution, and the romantic Ryan’s Daughter followed, both exhibiting the grand scale, lush cinematography, and breathtaking landscapes that had become the hallmark of Lean’s work.

1984 – His last film, A Passage to India, based on the E.M. Forster novel, was regarded as his best work since Lawrence of Arabia.

1990 – He was awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

1991 – Died on April 16th in London.

         – At the time of his death, he was preparing a screen version of Joseph Conrad’s novel Nostromo.

         – Lawrence has been re-released theatrically three times and was elected to the National Film Registry.