6 October 1901
|Died||30 December 1987|
Jersey, Channel Islands
|Occupation(s)||screenwriter and film director|
Leslie Arliss (6 October 1901, London – 30 December 1987, Jersey, Channel Islands) was an English screenwriter and director. He is best known for his work on the Gainsborough melodramas directing films such as The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady during the 1940s. 
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His parents were Charles Sawforde Arliss and Annie Eleanor Lilian "Nina" Barnett Hill.
He was not the son of George and Florence Arliss as has sometimes been reported erroneously.
Arliss began his professional career as a journalist in South Africa. Later he branched out into being a critic.
During the 1920s, Arliss entered the film industry as a screenwriter, and author of short stories. He did some uncredited work on The Farmer's Wife (1928) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, then was credited on the comedies Tonight's the Night (1932), Strip! Strip! Hooray!!! (1932), Josser on the River (1932), The Innocents of Chicago (1932) and Holiday Lovers (1932).
Arliss joined Gaumont British to write Road House (1934), a crime film; Orders Is Orders (1934), a comedy; My Old Dutch (1934), a comedy; Jack Ahoy (1934), a Jack Hulbert vehicle. He was credited on Heat Wave (1935), and Windbag the Sailor (1936) with Will Hay. 
Arliss' most prestigious credit to date was Rhodes of Africa (1936) starring Walter Huston, a job he got in part because of his South African background.  It was back to more typical fare with All In (1936), a comedy; Everybody Dance (1936), a musical; Where There's a Will (1936) and Good Morning, Boys (1937) with Will Hay; and Said O'Reilly to McNab (1937) with Will Mahoney.
In 1938 it was reported he was writing a script on Rob Roy for Gainsborough Studios but the film was not made.  He worked in Hollywood in 1937 and 1938.  He did some work for Sam Goldwyn and wrote an unfilmed story of Tchaikovsky. 
Arliss wrote a crime film Too Dangerous to Live (1938) then did Come On George! (1939) with George Formby and The Second Mr. Bush (1940).
With World War II he began writing propaganda films: Pastor Hall (1940) for Roy Boulting; For Freedom (1940) with Will Fyffe; Bulldog Sees It Through (1941) with Jack Buchanan; and South American George (1941) with Formby. He also wrote The Saint Meets the Tiger (made 1941 released 1943) with Hugh Sinclair.
The success of Noël Coward as a writer and director with In Which We Serve (1942) led to the British film industry encouraging writers to become directors. 
In 1941 Arliss became a director, initially for Associated British, but soon changing to Gainsborough Pictures. He made his directorial debut with a remake of The Farmer's Wife (1941), co-directed by Norman Lee.
He worked on The Foreman Went to France (1942) for Ealing Studios as writer only and wrote and directed The Night Has Eyes (1942), a thriller, with James Mason.
Arliss had the biggest success of his career to date with The Man in Grey (1943), which he co-wrote and directed.  It was one of the biggest hits of his career and made stars of its leads, Mason, Stewart Granger, Phyllis Calvert and Margaret Lockwood. Calvert later claimed Arliss was "not at all" responsible for the eventual success of the film, saying "He was a lazy director; he had got a wonderful job there and he just sat back... [producer] Ted Black was the one who would watch it, cut it, and know exactly what the audience would take."  Calvert also said ""Arlissing about" became "a Gainsborough byword for slackness." 
Arliss' next movie was also a huge hit. Love Story (1944), which he co-wrote and directed, starred Granger, Lockwood and Patricia Roc.
An even bigger success was The Wicked Lady (1945), which Arliss wrote and directed, starring Lockwood and Mason.
He was working on a film called Digger's Republic in 1945.  It was later made without him as Diamond City (1948).
Arliss turned down Hollywood offers, but in March 1946 he accepted an offer to work for Alexander Korda.  (Korda was on a talent-signing spree at the time, also doing contracts with Herbert Wilcox, Edward Black and Anthony Kimmins.)  Arliss was put to work on Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948), although he eventually left the project.  He directed A Man About the House (1947).  Arliss directed Idol of Paris (1948) for Gainsborough's former production chief Maurice Ostrer, but the film was a notorious flop, as was Bonnie Prince Charlie when it was released.
He was meant to make an Egg and I style comedy with Kieron Moore for Korda,  but instead he wrote and directed Saints and Sinners (1949), which also did poorly.
Arliss prepared a sequel to his greatest success, The Wicked Lady's Daughter, but it was not made.  Instead he wrote and directed The Woman's Angle (1952), which was a commercial disappointment. 
He directed some comedies, Miss Tulip Stays the Night (1955) and See How They Run (1955) (which he also wrote).
He did a number of short films in the mid/late 1950s, two of which, Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia Is Good for You (both 1957), featured Peter Sellers. The films, long believed lost, were rediscovered around 2013. 
He later directed several series of television programmes such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents (1954), Sailor of Fortune (1955) The Buccaneers (1956), The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957–58), The Invisible Man (1958) and The Forest Rangers (1963).
Arliss died in his home on the English Channel Island of Jersey. 
In 1928 he married Dorothy Gordon Cumming (d 1986). His survivors include a daughter. 
Margaret Mary Day Lockwood, CBE, was an English actress. One of Britain's most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, her film appearances included The Lady Vanishes (1938), Night Train to Munich (1940), The Man in Grey (1943), and The Wicked Lady (1945). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress for the 1955 film Cast a Dark Shadow. She also starred in the television series Justice (1971–74).
The Wicked Lady is a 1945 British costume drama film directed by Leslie Arliss and starring Margaret Lockwood in the title role as a nobleman's wife who becomes a highwayman for the excitement. The film had one of the top audiences for a film of its period, 18.4 million.
Phyllis Hannah Murray-Hill, known professionally as Phyllis Calvert, was an English film, stage and television actress. She was one of the leading stars of the Gainsborough melodramas of the 1940s such as The Man in Grey (1943) and was one of the most popular movie stars in Britain in the 1940s. She continued her acting career for another 50 years.
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The Man in Grey is a 1943 British film melodrama made by Gainsborough Pictures; it is considered to be the first of a series of period costume dramas now known as the "Gainsborough melodramas". It was directed by Leslie Arliss and produced by Edward Black from a screenplay by Arliss and Margaret Kennedy that was adapted by Doreen Montgomery from the 1941 novel The Man in Grey by Eleanor Smith. The film's sets were designed by Walter Murton.
George Arliss was an English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker who found success in the United States. He was the first British actor to win an Academy Award – which he won for his performance as Victorian-era British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli (1929) – as well as the earliest-born actor to win the honour. He specialized in successful biopics, such as Disraeli, Voltaire (1933), and Cardinal Richelieu (1935), as well as light comedies, which included The Millionaire (1931) and A Successful Calamity (1932).
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Edward Black was a British film producer, best known for being head of production at Gainsborough Studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s, during which time he oversaw production of the Gainsborough melodramas. He also produced such classic films as The Lady Vanishes (1938). Black has been called "one of the unsung heroes of the British film industry." In 1946 Mason called Black "the one good production executive" that J. Arthur Rank had. Frank Launder called Black "a great showman and yet he had a great feeling for scripts and spent more time on them than anyone I have ever known. His experimental films used to come off as successful as his others."
Patricia Roc was an English film actress, popular in the Gainsborough melodramas such as Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and The Wicked Lady (1945), though she only made one film in Hollywood, Canyon Passage (1946). She also appeared in Millions Like Us (1943), Jassy (1945), The Brothers (1947) and When the Bough Breaks (1947).
The Gainsborough melodramas were a sequence of films produced by the British film studio Gainsborough Pictures between 1943 and 1947 which conformed to a melodramatic style. The melodramas were not a film series but an unrelated sequence of films which had similar themes that were usually developed by the same film crew and frequently recurring actors who played similar characters in each. They were mostly based on popular books by female novelists and they encompassed costume dramas, such as The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945), and modern-dress dramas, such as Love Story (1944) and They Were Sisters (1945). The popularity of the films with audiences peaked mid-1940s when cinema audiences consisted primarily of women. The influence of the films led to other British producers releasing similarly themed works, such as The Seventh Veil (1945), Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945), Hungry Hill (1947), The White Unicorn (1947), Idol of Paris (1948), and The Reluctant Widow (1950) and often with the talent that made Gainsborough melodramas successful.
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