Ronald Neame was born in 1911, the son of film director and photographer Elwin Neame and actress Ivy Close. After his father’s death in 1923, Neame went to work at Elstree studios where he became an assistant cameraman on Blackmail (1929), the first British Talkie directed by young Alfred Hitchcock. Later collaborations with Noel Coward and David Lean garnered attention in the U.S. with Oscar® nominations for Best Cinematography (Best Effects) for One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1943) and several years later, with David Lean and Anthony Havelock-Allan for Best Screenplay for Brief Encounter (1947) and Great Expectations (1948). Both films were produced under the banner of their production company, Cineguild.
Neame began his directing career in 1947 on Take My Life. With his experience as a cinematographer, writer and producer, he went on to direct some of the finest talent in Britain and the U.S., including actors like Alec Guinness, John Mills, Hayley Mills, Yul Brynner, Maggie Smith, Judy Garland, Glenda Jackson, Deborah Kerr, Albert Finney and Walter Matthau. Known for his versatility as a director, his work ranged from comedies like The Horse's Mouth (1958) and Hopscotch (1980) to sensitive character studies like The Chalk Garden (1964) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), as well as the musical Scrooge (1970), the thriller The Odessa File (1974), the critically acclaimed war film Tunes of Glory (1960), and the disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
In addition to his Academy Award® nominations for cinematography and screenwriting, Neame was recognized for his work as a director by BAFTA and the Cannes, Locarno and Venice Film Festivals. In 1996, Neame was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his contributions to the film industry, and in 2005 he received the BAFTA/LA Britannia Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Film. His autobiography published in 2003, Straight from the Horse's Mouth, provides his first-hand account of the film industry spanning eight decades. Ronald Neame was a Directors Guild member for 54 years and served on the DGA Ethics committee from 1997 to 2003.