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Boulting brothers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John and Roy Boulting
Roy (left) and John (right) Boulting, in 1952
Joseph Edward John Boulting
(1913-12-21)21 December 1913
Alfred Fitzroy Clarence Boulting
(1913-12-21)21 December 1913

DiedJohn: 17 June 1985(1985-06-17) (aged 71)
Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
Roy: 5 November 2001(2001-11-05) (aged 87)
Eynsham, Oxfordshire, England
Other namesCollectively: Boulting brothers
John: John Edward Boulting
Roy: "Roy" Alfred Clarence Boulting
OccupationFilm producers and directors
Veronica Davidson
(m. 1938, divorced)
Jacqueline Duncan
(m. 1952; div. 1966)
Ann Marion
(m. 1972, divorced)
Anne Josephine
(m. 1977)

Angela Warnock
(m. 1936; div. 1941)
Jean Capon
(m. 1942; div. 1951)
Enid Munnik
(m. 1951; div. 1964)
(m. 1971; div. 1977)
Sandra Spencer
(m. 1978; div. 1984)
Partner(s)Roy: Victoria Vaughan (mid-1960s)[2]
ChildrenJohn: 6
Roy: 7, including Crispian Mills

John Edward Boulting[3] (21 December[2] 1913 – 17 June 1985) and Roy Alfred Clarence Boulting[4] (21 December[2] 1913 – 5 November 2001), known collectively as the Boulting brothers, were English filmmakers and identical twins who became known for their popular series of satirical comedies in the 1950s and 1960s. They produced many of their films through their own production company, Charter Film Productions, which they set up in 1937.[5]

Early life

The twin brothers were born to Arthur Boulting and his wife Rosetta (Rose) née Bennett in Bray, Berkshire, England, on 21 December[2] 1913. John was the elder by half an hour. John was named Joseph Edward John Boulting and Roy was named Alfred Fitzroy Clarence Boulting. Their elder brother Sydney Boulting became an actor and stage producer as Peter Cotes; he was the original director of The Mousetrap. A younger brother, Guy, died aged eight.

Both twins were educated at Reading School, where they formed a film society. They were extras in Anthony Asquith's 1931 film Tell England while still at school.[2]

During the Spanish Civil War, John served with the International Brigades[6][7] as an ambulance driver,[8][9] where—according to Richard Attenborough—Boulting was nearly captured.[10]


Frank Capra (right) confers with Roy Boulting on the editing of the film Tunisian Victory
Frank Capra (right) confers with Roy Boulting on the editing of the film Tunisian Victory

The brothers constitute one of those producer-director teams responsible for much notable British cinema. For most of their careers one produced while the other directed, but the product remained essentially a 'Boulting Brothers film'. They were socialists, as John demonstrated with the International Brigades, and wanted all film, including comedies, to reflect the real world.

Charter Film Productions

In 1937, they set up Charter Film Productions and made several short features, including The Landlady (1937) and Consider Your Verdict (1938), which attracted critical and commercial attention.[11]

They made quota quickies such as Trunk Crime (1939) and Inquest (1939).

Feature films

Being eager to speak out against the Third Reich, the brothers made their major film, Pastor Hall (1940), a biopic of Martin Niemöller, a German preacher who refuses to kowtow to the Nazis. Roy directed and John produced. The film had to have its initial release delayed by the British Government, which was not yet ready to be openly critical of Nazism. Once released, the film was well received by the critics and the public.[12][13]

They followed up with Thunder Rock (1942) with Michael Redgrave, a passionate anti-isolationist allegory distinguished by imaginative cinematography and a theatrical but highly atmospheric lighthouse setting. It was financed by MGM.

Military service

In 1941 Roy joined the Army Film Unit, where he was responsible for the enormously influential Desert Victory - which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1944.[14] He also worked on Tunisian Victory (1944) and Burma Victory (1945).

John joined the RAF Film Unit, where he made Journey Together in 1945, a dramatised documentary about the training and combat experience of a bomber crew with Richard Attenborough in the lead part. Terence Rattigan worked on the script.

Post-war films

After the war the Boultings made the drama Fame Is the Spur (1947) with Redgrave.[15] More popular was Brighton Rock (1947), starring Attenborough as the gangster "Pinkie" from the novel by Graham Greene, which has become a classic.[16]

Also well liked was the comedy The Guinea Pig (1948), starring Richard Attenborough as a young working-class boy sent to a public school. It was made for Pilgrim Pictures who the Boultings left shortly afterwards.[17]

The Boultings co-directed the thriller Seven Days to Noon (1950), which won an Oscar for Best Story.[18] It led to a less popular sequel, High Treason (1951).

John directed The Magic Box (1951), a biopic of William Friese-Greene notable for the number of cameos in its cast. It was a box office disappointment.

Hollywood-financed films

Roy received an offer to direct a World War Two naval film, Sailor of the King (1953), starring Jeffrey Hunter for 20th Century Fox. Seagulls Over Sorrento (1954) was another war naval story financed by a Hollywood studio (in this case MGM) with an imported star (Gene Kelly); it was not a big success.

The brothers collaborated on a comedy, Josephine and Men (1955) then Roy was hired by United Artists to do an action film with Hollywood stars, Run for the Sun (1956).


In the mid-50s the Boultings quickly became identified with "affectionate"[19] satires on various British institutions. it started with John's Private's Progress (1956), a look at army life, starring Attenborough, Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael and co written by Frank Harvey. It was the second most popular film in Britain in 1956.[20]

They followed it with Lucky Jim (1957), a look at academia from the novel by Kingsley Amis. It starred Carmichael and Terry-Thomas.[21] Brothers in Law (1957) with Carmichael, Attenborough and Thomas, took on the legal profession.

They had a break from satirising institutions with Happy Is the Bride (1958), an adaptation of Quiet Wedding, then returned to it with Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959), a send up of diplomacy.

The Boultings took on increasingly powerful trade unions and ever corrupt board room power with I'm All Right Jack (1959), a sequel to Private's Progress with Carmichael, Thomas and Attenborough reprising their roles, and Harvey co-writing. The film was also notable for the performance of Peter Sellers as trade union foreman Fred Kite. It was the most popular film at the British box office in 1959.[22]

Suspect (1960) was a return to the thriller genre for the brothers. A French Mistress (1960) was a comedy farce.

Heavens Above! (1963) was a look at religion in Britain, starring Sellers and Carmichael. It was a minor hit.[23]

Rotten to the Core (1965) was a heist comedy which attempted to make a star of Anton Rodgers in a Peter Sellers-type role, playing multiple parts. It featured a young Charlotte Rampling.

Hayley Mills

The Boultings directed and produced the northern comedy The Family Way (1966), starring John Mills and his teenage daughter Hayley. Roy Boulting and Hayley Mills began a relationship during the shoot despite a 33-year age difference; they married in 1971.[19][24]

Roy wrote and directed Twisted Nerve (1968), a thriller starring Mills and Hywel Bennett. The brothers had a massive hit with There's a Girl in My Soup (1970) starring Sellers and Goldie Hawn.

Roy was called in to replace the director on Mr. Forbush and the Penguins (1971), and he brought in Mills to star. The movie was not successful. Neither was the comedy Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974) made by the brothers starring Peter Sellers. Roy Boulting lost a considerable amount of money on the film.[25]

In 1975 Roy was working on a stage play, The Family Games.[26] He worked on the script for The Kingfisher Caper (1975), starring Mills.

Later career

In the US, Roy directed The Last Word (1979), a comedy starring Richard Harris that was barely seen.

When John died of cancer in 1985, Roy stopped making films. His last credit was directing an episode of the Miss Marple series for TV, The Moving Finger (1985). He was working on an adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play Deja Vu when he died.[25]

When the National Film Theatre mounted its biggest retrospective to date of British cinema in the late 1980s, Roy who launched it, introduced Desert Victory. The Boulting Brother's films have been described as being "a sensitive barometer of the changing times".[27]

Personal lives

John Boulting was married four times and had three sons and three daughters.[2] John and his South African-born wife Anne had two daughters: one of whom is Lucy Boulting Hill, a successful casting director.[28][citation needed] John's grandson Jordan Stephens (son of Emma Boulting) is one half of British hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks.[29]

Roy Boulting was married five times and had seven sons.[2] In 1951, Roy married Enid Munnik (née Groenewald/Grunewald),[citation needed] later known as Enid Boulting (later wife of 9th Earl of Hardwicke),[30] an established fashion model and fashion editor at the French magazine Elle. Ingrid Boulting is Enid's daughter from a previous marriage.[citation needed] Together, they had three children: the eldest, Fitzroy (b. 1951), then identical twins named Edmund and Rupert (b. 1952).[31] In 1971, Roy married Hayley Mills, 33 years his junior, whom he had met on the set of The Family Way. Their son is musician and filmmaker Crispian Mills. The couple separated in 1975, and divorced in 1977.[2]


John Boulting died on 17 June 1985 at his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, and Roy Boulting 16 years later on 5 November 2001 in the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford; both died of cancer.[2]

In popular culture

A still from The Family Way was used for The Smiths single "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish".


Films directed jointly

Films directed by John

Films directed by Roy


  1. ^ "Mrs. John Boulting Gets Decree". The Times. 21 June 1966. p. 16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Burton, Alan. "Boulting, John Edward (1913–1985); also including Roy Alfred Clarence Boulting (1913–2001)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30836. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Boulting, John (1913-1985) Biography". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Boulting, Roy (1913-2001) Biography". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  5. ^ IMDb: Charter Film Productions Linked 2013-05-24
  6. ^ Robert Shail (2007). British Film Directors: A Critical Guide. SIU Press. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-0-8093-2832-1.
  7. ^ Brian McFarlane (1997). An Autobiography of British Cinema: As Told by the Filmmakers and Actors who Made it. Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-70520-4.
  8. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service. University Microfilms. July 1985.
  9. ^ Patricia Burgess; Roland Turner (1988). The Annual Obituary. St. Martin's. ISBN 9780912289823.
  10. ^ Diana Hawkins; Richard Attenborough (4 September 2014). Entirely Up to You, Darling. Random House. pp. 68–. ISBN 978-1-4481-0604-2.
  11. ^ Carney, George; Goring, Marius; Petrie, Hay (1 January 2000), Consider Your Verdict, retrieved 28 January 2017
  12. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Boulting Brothers". Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Pastor Hall". The Sydney Morning Herald (32, 069). New South Wales, Australia. 10 October 1940. p. 18. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "The 16th Academy Awards | 1944". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  15. ^ "TWIN PRODUCERS". Cairns Post (13, 838). Queensland, Australia. 10 July 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ "THE GUINEA PIG". Northern Times. 75 (52). Western Australia. 27 December 1951. p. 8. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "Charge of wasting film money". The Sun (2387). New South Wales, Australia. 9 January 1949. p. 31. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ "FILM GOSSIP FROM LONDON AND HOLLYWOOD EVEN THE ACTORS DON'T KNOW FULL STORY". Sunday Times (Perth) (2693). Western Australia. 9 October 1949. p. 2 (Sunday Times Comics). Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ a b Barr, Charles (7 November 2001). "Roy Boulting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  20. ^ BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 28 December 1956: 3
  21. ^ "A FACULTY OF FUN". The Australian Women's Weekly. 25 (39). Australia. 5 March 1958. p. 60. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ FOUR BRITISH FILMS IN 'TOP 6': BOULTING COMEDY HEADS BOX OFFICE LIST Our own Reporter. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 11 December 1959: 4.
  23. ^ The Times, 3 January 1964, page 4: Most Popular Films of 1963 - found in The Times Digital Archive 2012-07-11
  24. ^ "LEISURE-THE ARTS New star for UK films". The Canberra Times. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 17 January 1967. p. 12. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ "Hayley Mills, 28, and Roy Boulting, 61: Pollyanna Never Had It So Happy – Vol. 3 No. 14". 14 April 1975.
  27. ^ "Obituary: Roy Boulting". 7 November 2001.
  28. ^ "Lucy Boulting". IMDb. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  29. ^ Duerden, Nick (31 July 2014). "Rizzle Kicks interview: The Brighton boys are on a roll". The Independent.
  30. ^ "Earl Weds Mrs. Enid Boulting". The New York Times. 29 April 1970. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  31. ^ "Enid Boulting with her children Fitzroy, Edmund and Rupert". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  • Burton Alan, O'Sullivan Tim, Wells Paul; Eds. 2000. The Family Way: The Boulting Brothers and British Film Culture. Trowbridge: Flicks Books. ISBN 0-948911-59-X

External links

This page was last edited on 10 September 2021, at 21:31
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