Bryan Forbes

Biography of Bryan Forbes

Bryan Forbes,(born July 22, 1926) CBE is an English film director, actor and writer.

Bryan Forbes was born John Theobald Clarke in Queen Mary's Hospital, Stratford, West Ham, Essex), and grew up at 43 Cranmer Road, Forest Gate, West Ham, Essex.

Forbes trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts but did not complete his studies. After military service from 1945 to 1948, he played numerous supporting roles in British films including in 1955 The Colditz Story, alongside John Mills, as well as appearing on the stage, but was obliged to change his name by British Equity to avoid confusion with the adolescent actor John Clark. He began also to write for the screen, receiving his first full credit for The Cockleshell Heroes in 1955. Another noted screenplay of his from this period was for The League of Gentlemen in 1959, in which he also acted.

He formed a production company with his frequent collaborator Richard Attenborough in 1959 (Beaver Films), which went on to make The Angry Silence in 1960, a screenplay by Forbes in which Attenborough took the lead role, and both shared production responsibilities. In 1961 he made his directorial debut Whistle Down the Wind, again produced by Attenborough. In 1964, Forbes wrote and directed Séance on a Wet Afternoon, for which he won a 1965 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Foreign Film Screenplay. That same year he wrote the third screen adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel Of Human Bondage. In 1965 he went to Hollywood to make King Rat. A 1968 caper film, Deadfall, starred Michael Caine.

In 1969, Forbes was appointed chief of production and managing director of the film studio Associated British (EMI), but the experience was not a success and he resigned the post in 1971, though he was partially responsible for financing The Railway Children (1970). After his experience as an executive, Forbes film output declined, although he did enjoy success as the director of The Raging Moon (1971) and The Stepford Wives (1975).

In 1972, Forbes started work on the documentary, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye Norma Jean and Other Things," which chronicled the life of a young John and Taupin during their rise to fame in the early years of the duo's now legendary partnership. The project would take Forbes a full year to complete, and in particular provided a behind the scenes look at the writing and recording of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," including interviews with John, Taupin and band members including Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray, as well as John's mother, Sheila, DJM label president Dick James and son Stephen, and footage of John's famed 1973 Hollywood Bowl concert. (Some of the footage was licensed for the Eagle Vision Classic Albums series "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" documentary.)

During the filming, Forbes formed a close friendship with John and Taupin, which led him to do other work with them, including photography on the "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album sleeves. The documentary aired in the U.S. on ABC TV shortly after completion, and was later briefly issued on VHS. No official DVD release has surfaced, at least not in the U.S..

He did three more films as the 1970s ended and the 1980s started: The Slipper and the Rose (1976), International Velvet (1978) and The Naked Face (1984) were not successful. More recently, he scripted Attenborough's Chaplin (1992)

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