Ken Annakin

Kenneth Cooper "Ken" Annakin, OBE (10 August 1914 – 22 April 2009)[1] was a prolific English film director.

His career spanned half a century, beginning in the early 1940s and ending in 2002. His career peaked in the 1960s with large-scale adventure films and in all he directed nearly 50 pictures.

Ken Annakin

Ken Annakin - 1969
Annakin in 1969
Kenneth Cooper Annakin

10 August 1914
Died22 April 2009 (aged 94)
Burial placeWestwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationFilm director
Years active1941–1992
Spouse(s)Pauline Carter


Annakin was born in and grew up in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire where he attended the local grammar school.


Injured in the Liverpool Blitz, he joined the RAF Film Unit, where he worked as camera operator on propaganda films for the Ministry of Information and the British Council. We Serve (1942), a recruiting film for women, was directed by Carol Reed, who made Annakin his assistant director, after which Annakin directed several training films for Verity Films, a group led by Sydney Box, who was about to become head of Gainsborough Pictures.[2] His early documentaries included London 1942 (1942), Make Fruitful the Land (1945), We of the West Riding (1945), and English Criminal Justice (1946). He also made the shorts It Began on the Clyde (1946) and Fenlands (1946).

Feature Films and Gainsborough Pictures

Annakin had made a number of documentaries for Sydney Box and when Box took over as head of Gainsborough Pictures he brought Annakin with him and assigned him to his first feature, Holiday Camp (1947). It was a solid hit and launched Annakin's career.

Box called in Annakin to replace Michael Charlton who was directing Miranda (1948) with Glynis Johns. The resulting film was another success. Broken Journey (1948) with Phyllis Calvert was a commercial disappointment. However Quartet (1948), an anthology film where Annakin directed one segment, was well received.

Holiday Camp featured the Huggetts, a working-class family living in suburban England headed by Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison. They were spun off into their own vehicle directed by Annakin, Here Come the Huggetts (1948) with Petula Clark, Jane Hylton, and Susan Shaw as their young daughters, Amy Veness as their grandmother and Diana Dors as their cousin. It was popular and led to Vote for Huggett (1949) and The Huggetts Abroad (1949).

Associated British

Annakin moved over to Associated British Pictures Corporation for whom he directed Landfall (1949), a war film; and Double Confession (1950), a thriller.

For United Artists he did the comedy Hotel Sahara (1951) with Peter Ustinov.

Walt Disney

Annakin then received an offer from Walt Disney to make The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) with Richard Todd. He then made an action film set during the Malayan Emergency, the United Artist's film The Planter's Wife (1952) with Jack Hawkins and Claudette Colbert, which was a big hit in Britain. Disney reunited Annakin and Todd on The Sword and the Rose (1953), a commercial disappointment.

Annakin made a comedy, You Know What Sailors Are (1954) then did another imperial adventure story with Hawkins, The Seekers (1954). He returned to comedy for Value for Money (1955), Loser Takes All (1956) and Three Men in a Boat (1956). The latter especially was popular.

Annakin made Across the Bridge (1957) with Rod Steiger from a story by Graham Greene. He then travelled to South Africa to make another adventure story, Nor the Moon by Night (1958).

Disney called again and hired Annakin to make a mountaineering tale, Third Man on the Mountain (1959). They kept him on for Swiss Family Robinson (1960), which Walt Disney's nephew, Roy, considered "one of the greatest family adventure films of all time and a favourite for generations of moviegoers".[3] It was a huge hit.

Annakin returned to comedy with Very Important Person (1961) and travelled to South Africa for The Hellions (1962). The Fast Lady (1962) and Crooks Anonymous (1962) were other comedies.

International director

He was later associated with another American producer, Darryl F. Zanuck, when he was hired to direct the British and (uncredited) French and American interior segments in The Longest Day (1962), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, eventually losing out to Lawrence of Arabia. Annakin then made The Informers (1963).

As head of the 20th Century-Fox Studio, Zanuck endorsed Annakin's most ambitious project Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), also co-written by Annakin for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

Annakin also directed the big-scale war film Battle of the Bulge the same year for the Warner Brothers studio. He did The Long Duel (1967) in India for Rank, The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) for MGM in Italy, and Monte Carlo or Bust (1969) for Paramount Pictures.

Annakin continued to travel widely with his films The Call of the Wild (1972) was shot in Finland; Paper Tiger (1975) in Malaysia.

In 1979, Ken Annakin left Britain and moved to Los Angeles.[4] There he made The Pirate (1978) and Institute for Revenge (1979). He travelled to Europe for The Fifth Musketeer (1979). In Hollywood he made Cheaper to Keep Her (1981) and went to Australia for The Pirate Movie (1982).

Annakin's last completed film was The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988). The 1992 project Genghis Khan was not completed.

In 2001 he released a highly regarded autobiography So You Wanna Be A Director? published by Tomahawk Press (ISBN 0-953 1926-5-2). Considered "a classic among directors' autobiographies" it has forewords by both Richard Attenborough and Mike Leigh. In their review, the Directors Guild of America stated

So You Wanna Be a Director? is an entertaining autobiography through which seasoned directors and aspirants alike can enjoy and learn from a man with such a versatile and long-lived career. If Annakin tells of his exasperation over trying to coax performances out of producers' girlfriends, the bad behaviour – and sometimes the drug problems – of certain stars and the vagaries of international film financing, he's providing tales that are as cautionary today as when he lived them.[5]

Annakin was made one of the few Disney Legends by the Walt Disney Company in March 2002. He is only the second film director to be so honoured. He was also awarded an OBE the same year for services to the film industry and received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Hull University.[6]

He died on 22 April 2009, the same day as Jack Cardiff, who had been his cinematographer on the 1979 film The Fifth Musketeer.[1] A daughter from a previous marriage predeceased him.[6] The cause of his death was myocardial infarction and stroke.[7][6]

Claims were made that George Lucas took the name for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars from his fellow film director; however, Lucas's publicist denied this following Annakin's death in 2009.[4]



  1. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (24 April 2009). "Ken Annakin, 'Magnificent' Director, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  2. ^ The Independent
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (24 April 2009). "Ken Annakin dies at 94; British director of 'Swiss Family Robinson' and others". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  5. ^ Annakin, Ken. "So You Wanna be a Director?". Tomahawk Press. Tree Frog Communication.
  6. ^ a b c "Ken Annakin". Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  7. ^ Harris M. Lentz III (2010). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2009: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre. McFarland. ISBN 9780786441747. Retrieved 2018-11-22.

External links

Across the Bridge (film)

Across the Bridge is a 1957 British film directed by Ken Annakin. It is based on the short story "Across the Bridge" by Graham Greene. It stars Rod Steiger and Bernard Lee.

Broken Journey

Broken Journey (also known as Rescue) is a 1948 British drama film directed by Ken Annakin and featuring Phyllis Calvert, James Donald, Margot Grahame, Raymond Huntley and Guy Rolfe. The film deals with people struggling to survive after their airliner crashes on top of a mountain, and is based on a true-life accident in the Swiss Alps.

Crooks Anonymous

Crooks Anonymous is a British comedy film from 1962. Directed by Ken Annakin, it starred Leslie Phillips and Stanley Baxter and was notable for the feature film debut of Julie Christie.

Fenlands (film)

Fenlands is a 1945 British short film directed by Ken Annakin for the Ministry of Information's Pattern of Britain series. It documents the Fenlands of East Anglia, and their change from swamplands to farmlands.

Here Come the Huggetts

Here Come the Huggetts is a 1948 British comedy film, the first of the Huggetts series, about a working class English family. All three films in the series were directed by Ken Annakin and released by Gainsborough Pictures.

Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison head the cast as factory worker Joe Huggett and his wife Ethel, with Petula Clark, Jane Hylton and Susan Shaw as their young daughters (all with the same first names as the actresses portraying them) and Amy Veness as their opinionated grandmother. Joe and Ethel had been introduced a year earlier in the film Holiday Camp and there would be two sequels, Vote for Huggett and The Huggetts Abroad (both 1949).

It Began on the Clyde

It Began on the Clyde is a 1946 British short film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Molly Weir.

Landfall (film)

Landfall is a 1949 British war film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Michael Denison, Patricia Plunkett and Kathleen Harrison. It is based on the 1940 novel, Landfall: A Channel Story, written by author Nevil Shute.

Loser Takes All (film)

Loser Takes All is a 1956 British comedy film directed by Ken Annakin, starring Glynis Johns, Rossano Brazzi, and Robert Morley, with on a screenplay by Graham Greene based on Greene's novella of the same name.

Miranda (1948 film)

Miranda is a 1948 British comedy film, directed by Ken Annakin and written by Peter Blackmore, who also wrote the play of the same name from which the film was adapted. Denis Waldock provided additional dialogue. A light comedy, the film is about a beautiful and playful mermaid played by Glynis Johns and her effect on Griffith Jones' character. Googie Withers and Margaret Rutherford are also featured in the film. Glynis Johns and Margaret Rutherford reprised their roles in the 1954 sequel, Mad About Men.

Music for the film was played by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Muir Mathieson. The sound director was B. C. Sewell.

The Call of the Wild (1972 film)

The Call of the Wild is a 1972 family adventure film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Charlton Heston, Michèle Mercier, Raimund Harmstorf, George Eastman, and Maria Rohm.

Based on Jack London's novel The Call of the Wild, the film follows the adventures of a dog that is brought north to Canada to be used as a sled dog.

The Fast Lady

The Fast Lady is a 1962 British comedy film, directed by Ken Annakin. The screenplay was written by Henry Blyth and Jack Davies, based on a story by Keble Howard. It was Julie Christie's second film.

The film opened at the Odeon Marble Arch on December 1962

The Fifth Musketeer

The Fifth Musketeer is a 1979 German-Austrian film adaptation of the last section of the novel The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père, which is itself based on the French legend of the Man in the Iron Mask.

It was directed by Ken Annakin, and stars Beau Bridges as the twins (Louis XIV and Philippe of Gascony), Sylvia Kristel as Maria Theresa, Ursula Andress as Louise de La Vallière, Cornel Wilde as d'Artagnan, Ian McShane as Fouquet, Rex Harrison as Colbert (Philippe's tutor), and Lloyd Bridges, José Ferrer and Alan Hale Jr. as the Three Musketeers. Olivia de Havilland made a cameo appearance as the Queen Mother. This was de Havilland's final theatrical film.

The cinematographer was Jack Cardiff.

In what may have been an instance of stunt casting, Alan Hale Jr. played the same character, Porthos, that his lookalike father, Alan Hale Sr., did in 1939's The Man in the Iron Mask.

The Hellions

The Hellions is a 1961 British adventure film directed by Ken Annakin starring Richard Todd, Anne Aubrey, Lionel Jeffries, Ronald Fraser and Colin Blakely that was set and filmed in South Africa.

The Informers (1963 film)

The Informers (US title - Underworld Informers) is a 1963 British crime film produced and distributed in the UK by The Rank Organisation and distributed in the USA by Continental Film Distributors. It was directed by Ken Annakin and produced by William MacQuitty, with the screenplay by Paul Durst and Alun Falconer from the novel Death of a Snout by Douglas Warner. It stars Nigel Patrick, Margaret Whiting, Harry Andrews, Derren Nesbitt and Colin Blakely. Cinematography was by Reginald H. Wyer. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios and on location in London.

The Pirate (1978 film)

The Pirate is a 1978 American two-part, four-hour television miniseries directed by Ken Annakin. It is based on the novel with the same title written by Harold Robbins. It was broadcast in two parts by CBS on November 21–22, 1978.

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men is a 1952 action adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and RKO Radio Pictures based on the Robin Hood legend, made in Technicolor and filmed in Buckinghamshire, England. It was written by Lawrence Edward Watkin and directed by Ken Annakin. It is the second of Disney's complete live-action films, after Treasure Island (1950), and the first of four films Annakin directed for Disney.

Value for Money

Value for Money is a 1955 British comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring John Gregson, Donald Pleasence, Leslie Phillips, Joan Hickson, Derek Farr and Diana Dors.

Vote for Huggett

Vote for Huggett is a 1949 British comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison and Diana Dors. Warner reprises his role as the head of a London family, in the post-war years. It was the second in the film series The Huggetts, after 1948's Here Come the Huggetts, and the third film in which the family appeared. In it, Joe Huggett decides to run as a candidate in the local municipal elections. It was followed later that year by The Huggetts Abroad.

You Know What Sailors Are (1954 film)

You Know What Sailors Are is a 1954 British comedy film directed by Ken Annakin from a screenplay by Peter Rogers. It starred Donald Sinden, Michael Hordern, Bill Kerr, Dora Bryan and Akim Tamiroff.

Films directed by Ken Annakin

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