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Alexander Mackendrick

Alexander Mackendrick

Alexander Mackendrick was born on September 8, 1912, in Boston, Massachusetts to Scottish parents. Following his father's death during the influenza pandemic he was sent to Scotland to live with his grandfather in 1919, attending school and then art college in Glasgow before moving to London to work in advertising.


During the Second World War, Mackendrick worked firstly for the Ministry of Information making British propaganda films before being employed by the Psychological Warfare Division.

Following the war, he gained prominence for his work at Ealing Studios, directing some of the most beloved of British comedies including Whisky Galore! (1949) The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955). He then moved to the United States, where he directed Sweet Smell of Success (1957) which, despite being poorly received initially, has grown in stature over the years and is now generally considered to be a masterpiece.

He made several more films in both the UK and USA but took up the role of Dean of the California Institute of the Arts' film school in 1969, stepping down in 1978 to become a professor at the school. Notable students of Mackendrick's during this time include Terence Davies, James Mangold and Douglas Rushkoff. He passed away in 1993 aged 81 having left behind a relatively brief but vital contribution to cinematic history.

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