Charles Frend

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Charles Herbert Frend (21 November 1909, Pulborough, Sussex 8 January 1977, London) [1] was an English film director and editor, best known for his films produced at Ealing Studios. He began directing in the early 1940s and is known for such films as Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Cruel Sea (1953). [2]



Frend was born in Pulborough, Sussex, on 21 November 1909 to Edward Charles and Bertha Maud Frend. [1] He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and at Oxford University, where he was the film critic of The Isis Magazine . [1] [3]


He began his career in the film industry at British International Pictures in 1931. He worked as an editor on Arms and the Man (1932)

Frend moved to Gaumont British Pictures, where he worked under producer Michael Balcon. He edited Alfred Hitchcock's Waltzes from Vienna (1934), then My Song for You (1934), Oh, Daddy! (1934), Tom Walls' Fighting Stock (1935), The Tunnel (1935), and Car of Dreams (1935).

Frend was reunited with Hitchcock for Secret Agent (1936) and Sabotage (1936); in between he did East Meets West (1936).

Frend was borrowed by Alexander Korda for Conquest of the Air (1936). He returned to Gaumont British to edit The Great Barrier (1936) and Hitchcock's Young and Innocent (1937). [4]


When Michael Balcon went over to work for MGM British at Denham Film Studios, he brought Frend with him. While there, Frend edited A Yank at Oxford (1938), The Citadel (1938) and Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939).

Korda used him again for The Lion Has Wings (1939). He was hired by Gabriel Pascal for Major Barbara (1941). By now he was established as one of the leading editors in Britain but he wanted to direct.


Michael Balcon had taken over Ealing Studios and he gave Frend the chance to direct his first feature, the semi-documentary The Big Blockade (1942), which Frend also co-wrote. Frend developed as one of Ealing's key directors, along with Charles Crichton, Alexander Mackendrick and Robert Hamer. [5] [6]

Frend followed his first feature with The Foreman Went to France (1943) and San Demetrio London (1943); Robert Hamer finished the latter after Frend fell ill. He did a short subject, The Return of the Vikings (1943), then Johnny Frenchman (1945). [7]

Post-war films

Frend's first non-war film was a melodrama, The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947), adapted from the novel Joanna Godden (1921) by Sheila Kaye-Smith. He followed it with Scott of the Antarctic (1948), a biopic that was hugely successful at the British box office.

Frend shifted into comedy, making A Run for Your Money (1949) and The Magnet (1950). He returned to war films with The Cruel Sea (1953), the most successful film at the British box office in 1953. [8] [9]

Frend did a drama with Robert Donat, Lease of Life (1954). His film The Long Arm (1956) won the Silver Bear for an Outstanding Single Achievement award at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival. [10]

Frend directed Alec Guinness in Barnacle Bill (1957), the penultimate Ealing comedy. The studio would soon be sold.


Frend moved into television, directing episodes of Interpol Calling , Schilling Playhouse and Danger Man . He returned to films with Cone of Silence (1960) for Balcon's new Bryanston Films, and Girl on Approval (1961). [11]

Frend then did some more TV - Man of the World , The Sentimental Agent , Zero One - then another feature, Torpedo Bay (1963) with James Mason.

Final Productions

His last credit as principal director was The Sky Bike (1967) for the Children's Film Foundation. He did episodes of Man in a Suitcase , and did second unit directing on Guns in the Heather and David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970). [12]

Frend died in a hospital in London on 8 January 1977, aged 67, after a long illness. [13]

Selected filmography

Personal life

In his entry in Who's Who , Frend listed 'the cinema' as his recreation. [1] In 1940, Frend married Sonja Petra Baade Thorburn. [1] Frend was a life-long friend of producer Sir Michael Balcon. [14] After his death in 1977, Balcon wrote that "this broadminded, liberal man [Frend] without any trace of chauvinism in his outlook nevertheless had a proper pride in Britain and the British people and it is this characteristic which emerges so strongly in all his work." [14]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Frend, Charles Herbert, (21 Nov. 1909–8 Jan. 1977), Film Director since 1941". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u154632 . Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  2. Hunt, Martin. "Frend, Charles (1909-1977)". BFI ScreenOnline. Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors. British Film Institute. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  3. "Frend, Charles (1909-1977)". BFI Screenonline.
  4. "Frend, Charles (1909-1977)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  5. "The Studio": SIR MICHAEL BALCON AND EALING Koval, Francis. Sight and Sound, suppl. Supplement; London Vol. 19, Iss. 10, (Mar 1, 1951): 8.
  6. TIGHT LITTLE STUDIO Tynan, Kenneth. Harper's Magazine; New York, N.Y. Vol. 211, Iss. 1263, (Aug 1, 1955): 52.
  7. "Miss Bergman Leaves Field to Aino Taube", Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr 1943: 14.
  8. "From London". The Mail . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 9 January 1954. p. 50. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  9. BY WAY OF REPORT: "All-Male 'Caine Mutiny Looms -- Other Items" By A. H. WEILER. New York Times, 19 Oct 1952: X5.
  10. "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  11. CURRENT FILM ACTIVITIES ALONG THE THAMES: New Independents Swing Into Action -- Work in Progress -- Critics' Vote New York Times 6 Dec 1959: X9.
  12. "CINEMA The very stuff of reality". The Canberra Times . Vol. 45, no. 12, 813. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 18 May 1971. p. 17. Retrieved 18 August 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Charles Frend Dies in London; Produced Film 'The Cruel Sea'". The New York Times. 9 January 1977. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  14. 1 2 "BFI Screenonline: Frend, Charles (1909-1977) Biography". Retrieved 8 June 2021.