John and Roy Boulting
Roy (left) and John (right) Boulting, in 1952
Joseph Edward John Boulting
21 December 1913
Alfred Fitzroy Clarence Boulting
21 December 1913
Bray, Berkshire, England
|Died||John: 17 June 1985 (aged 71)|
Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
Roy: 5 November 2001 (aged 87)
Eynsham, Oxfordshire, England
|Other names||Collectively: Boulting brothers|
John: John Edward Boulting
Roy: "Roy" Alfred Clarence Boulting
|Occupation||Film producers and directors|
(m. 1938, divorced)
(m. 1952; div. 1966)
(m. 1972, divorced)
(m. after 1977)
|Roy: Victoria Vaughan (mid-1960s)|
Roy: 7, including Crispian Mills
John Edward Boulting (21 December 1913 - 17 June 1985) and Roy Alfred Clarence Boulting (21 December 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.
The twin brothers were born to Arthur Boulting and his wife Rosetta (Rose) née Bennett in Bray, Berkshire, England on 21 December 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
After the war the Boultings made the drama Fame Is the Spur (1947) with Redgrave. More popular was Brighton Rock (1947), starring Attenborough as the gangster "Pinkie" from the novel by Graham Greene, which has become a classic.
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.
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.
In the mid-50s the Boultings quickly became identified with "affectionate" 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.
They followed it with Lucky Jim (1957), a look at academia from the novel by Kingsley Amis. It starred Carmichael and Terry-Thomas.Brothers in Law (1957) with Carmichael, Attenborough and Thomas, took on the legal profession.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 are regarded by film historians[who?] as "a sensitive barometer of the changing times."
John Boulting was married four times and had three sons and three daughters. John and his South African-born wife Anne had two daughters: one of whom is Lucy Boulting Hill, a successful casting director. John's grandson Jordan Stephens (son of Emma Boulting) is one half of British hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks.
Roy Boulting was married five times and had seven sons. In 1951, Roy married Enid Munnik (née Groenewald/Grunewald), later known as Enid Boulting (later wife of 9th Earl of Hardwicke), an established fashion model and fashion editor at the French magazine Elle. Ingrid Boulting is Enid's daughter from a previous marriage. Together, they had three children: the eldest, Fitzroy (b. 1951), then identical twins named Edmund and Rupert (b. 1952). 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.