Thornton Freeland

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Thornton Freeland
BornFebruary 10, 1898
DiedMay 22, 1987
Years active1924–1949 (film)

Thornton Freeland (February 10, 1898 – May 22, 1987) was an American film director who directed 26 British and American films in a career that lasted from 1924 to 1949.


Early success

He was born in Hope, North Dakota in 1898 and originally worked as an assistant director during the silent era. In 1929 he directed his first film, the comedy Three Live Ghosts . He enjoyed an early success with the Eddie Cantor Technicolor musical Whoopie! (1930) and much of his subsequent work was in musicals and comedies.

In 1933, he directed Flying Down to Rio which launched the screen partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers although it had originally been designed as a starring vehicle for the Mexican actress Dolores del Río. [1] The following year Freeland made a film version of the long-running Broadway revue George White's Scandals .


In 1935 Freeland went to London to make the musical comedy Brewster's Millions starring Jack Buchanan. [2] He was to work in Britain for the remainder of the decade. In 1936 he made Accused at Isleworth Studios, which was produced by and starred his fellow American Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. who had also moved to Britain at the time. A Paris-set murder mystery, the film also featured Dolores Del Rio. He directed Fairbanks again in the costume drama The Amateur Gentleman the same year.

Britain was experiencing a major boom in filmmaking at the time, and many of Freeland's projects were made with an eye to the international market. However he also directed comedies with more local appeal such as Skylarks (1936) featuring Nervo and Knox and Hold My Hand (1938) with Stanley Lupino. During his time in England Freeland worked for a variety of companies, many of which were independents which had been established during the boom. Amongst these was Capitol Films for whom he made Jericho , a drama with Paul Robeson. By 1937 the boom was over and his final films in England were made by better-established studios such as London Films and Associated British. His last film to be released in the decade was a Jack Buchanan comedy-thriller The Gang's All Here .

Later career

He returned to the United States during World War II, and made two films in Hollywood. In the late 1940s he returned to Britain to make a final three films. Following the release of the comedy Dear Mr. Prohack (1949) he retired from directing.

He was married to the American actress June Clyde. [3] [4] Like her husband Clyde spent much of the 1930s working in British films.


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<i>Dear Mr. Prohack</i> 1949 film by Thornton Freeland

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<i>The Gangs All Here</i> (1939 film) 1939 film by Thornton Freeland

The Gang's All Here is a 1939 British, black-and-white, comedy-mystery, directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Jack Buchanan. It was produced by Associated British Picture Corporation. Subsequently, the film was released in the U.S. in 1943 with the title The Amazing Mr. Forrest.

<i>Paradise for Two</i> 1937 film by Thornton Freeland

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Skylarks is a 1936 British comedy film directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox and Nancy Burne. Nervo and Knox were a comic team, who became associated with the larger Crazy Gang grouping with whom they subsequently appeared in several films. It is a partially lost film, with only a short soundless fragment surviving. The team's earlier film It's in the Bag, their 1936 sound debut, does still survive.

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  1. Robinson p.232
  2. Marshall p.77
  3. IMDB entry
  4. BFI Database