British film director who made some exceptional films in the postwar years. He was knighted in 1952.
Reed, who was born in London and educated at King's School, Canterbury, began his career as an actor in 1924. In 1927 he joined Edgar Wallace as stage director but in the early 1930s joined Ealing Studios under Basil Dean (1888–1978). His first film as director was Midshipman Easy (1934). Talk of the Devil (1937), Bank Holiday (1938), the highly successful comedy A Girl Must Live (1939), The Stars Look Down (1939), Night Train to Munich (1940), Kipps (1941), and The Young Mr Pitt (1942) were some of his early films. During World War II he worked with the Army Film Unit, where his success led to The Way Ahead (1944). Next came the Oscar-winning The True Glory (1945), co-directed with Garson Kanin (1912– ).
Some of Reed's most highly acclaimed films were made during the 1940s. Odd Man Out (1947), with James Mason (1909–84) playing a dying gunman, was followed by The Fallen Idol (1948) with Ralph Richardson. The Third Man (1949) has been called one of the best films ever made, largely due to Reed's skill in bringing together an outstanding cast (Joseph Cotten (1905–94), Trevor Howard, Alida Valli (1921– ), and Orson Welles), a crisp screenplay (by Graham Greene), and the original sound of the zither (played by Anton Karas), all photographed and directed with exceptional sensitivity against the haunting background of postwar Vienna. Notable, too, at about this time were Outcast of the Islands (1952) and The Man Between (1953). Later films included A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), The Running Man (1963), and the musical Oliver! (1968), for which he won an Oscar as best director.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).