Charles Saunders (director)

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Charles Saunders
Charles Joel Saunders

(1904-04-08)8 April 1904
DiedApril 1997 (aged 93)
Other namesChas Saunders
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, film editor
RelativesSir Peter Saunders (brother)

Charles Joel Saunders (8 April 1904 [1] – April 1997) [2] was an English film director and screenwriter who began in the industry as a film editor, and who also contributed to television. [3] He was the brother of the theatrical producer Sir Peter Saunders.



Saunders entered the film industry in 1930 with his romantic comedy called No Exit (which he wrote, produced and directed), [4] about a publisher's daughter who wrongly believes that a humble staff writer of her father's is secretly a best-selling author. [5]

He then served as art director on three films in 1931 and 1932. [6] However, his main occupation from 1930 to 1943 was in the film editing sphere, learning the trade by contributing to over 20 films, [7] and rising to become supervising editor for the 1942 Gainsborough movie Alibi , a thriller which starred James Mason and Margaret Lockwood. [8]

In 1944, he collaborated with Bernard Miles to co-direct (and co-write) Tawny Pipit , a film starring Miles himself as an Army colonel involved with village folk in an effort to protect rare birds' nests from egg thieves. [9]

After working as a second unit director in 1945 on The Way to the Stars , [10] and as a location director in 1947 on The White Unicorn , [11] he resumed his career as director with Fly Away Peter in 1948. [12] Saunders would go on to make around ten films (including 1951's One Wild Oat , [13] featuring a then little-known Audrey Hepburn as a hotel receptionist) before moving into television, and in 1953 and 1954 he directed eight episodes of the anthology series Douglas Fairbanks Presents , for Douglas Fairbanks Productions Limited. [7]

He was still busy with several movie assignments, making The Golden Link , The Scarlet Web, and Meet Mr. Callaghan in 1954. He made three films in 1955, The Hornets Nest, One Jump Ahead , and A Time to Kill . Returning to television direction once more, he then made seven episodes of the police drama series, Fabian of the Yard , broadcast on the BBC in 1955, before completing three more films in 1956 (Behind the Headlines, The Narrowing Circle, and Find the Lady). [7]

After making three more episodes of "Fabian" in 1956, he continued working with the BBC, filming nine instalments of another TV series, Adventures of the Big Man, for them, which presented stories about a public relations officer in a large store. [14]

Seven more films followed in 1957, before Saunders began to make films which marked a departure from the formulaic work he had been employed on previously. [7] The 1958 "English sexploitation movie", Nudist Paradise , [15] was perhaps the beginning of the end of Saunders' mainstream career in films, although he did make a horror movie the same year, called Womaneater , the story of a crazed scientist who feeds women to a flesh-eating tree in return for a life-giving serum. [16] It was produced by Guido Coen, for whom Saunders made other movies such as the 1957 drama Kill Her Gently and the 1959 thriller Naked Fury .

After several more films, concluding with the 1962 crime thriller Danger by My Side , [17] Saunders retired from film-making.

He died in April 1997 in Denham, Buckinghamshire.

Selected filmography

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  1. Full name and birth details: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  2. Death details: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  3. List of films and credits: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  4. No Exit (1930 film), director, producer and writer: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  5. No Exit synopsis: The New York Times website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  6. Art director, three films 1931–32: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Film credits: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  8. Alibi (1942 film), supervising editor: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  9. Tawny Pipit (1944 film), co-director and co-screenwriter: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  10. The Way to the Stars (1945 film), second unit director: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  11. The White Unicorn (1947 film), location director: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  12. Fly Away Peter (1948 film), solo directorial debut: Allmovie website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  13. One Wild Oat (1951 film), director: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  14. Adventures of the Big Man (1956 TV series), director of 9 episodes: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  15. Nudist Paradise (1958 film) Archived 10 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine , director: website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  16. Womaneater (1958 film) Archived 2 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine , director: Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.
  17. Danger by My Side (1962 film), final movie as a director: Time Out magazine website. Retrieved on 4 March 2008.