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.
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|
|Partner(s)||Roy: Victoria Vaughan (mid-1960s)|
Roy: 7, including Crispian Mills
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.
Charter Film Productions
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.
Heavens Above! (1963) was a look at religion in Britain, starring Sellers and Carmichael. It was a minor hit.
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.
In 1975 Roy was working on a stage play, The Family Games. He worked on the script for The Kingfisher Caper (1975), starring Mills.
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 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.
In popular culture
Films directed jointly
- Seven Days to Noon (1950)
Films directed by John
Films directed by Roy
- Trunk Crime (1939)
- Inquest (1940)
- Thunder Rock (1942)
- Tunisian Victory (1944, documentary co-directed with Frank Capra)
- Fame is the Spur (1947)
- The Guinea Pig / The Outsider (1948)
- High Treason (1951)
- Single-Handed / Sailor of the King (1953)
- Seagulls Over Sorrento / Crest of the Wave (1954)
- Josephine and Men (1955)
- Run for the Sun (1956)
- Brothers in Law (1957)
- Happy Is the Bride (1958)
- Carlton-Browne of the FO (1959)
- Suspect / The Risk (1960)
- A French Mistress (1960)
- The Family Way (1966)
- Twisted Nerve (1968)
- There's a Girl in My Soup (1970)
- Mr. Forbush and the Penguins / Cry of the Penguins (1971)
- Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1973)
- "Mrs. John Boulting Gets Decree". The Times. 21 June 1966. p. 16.
- Burton, Alan. "Boulting, John Edward (1913–1985); also including Roy Alfred Clarence Boulting (1913–2001)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30836.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "BFI Screenonline: Boulting, John (1913-1985) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- "BFI Screenonline: Boulting, Roy (1913-2001) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- IMDb: Charter Film Productions Linked 2013-05-24
- Robert Shail (2007). British Film Directors: A Critical Guide. SIU Press. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-0-8093-2832-1.
- Brian McFarlane (1997). An Autobiography of British Cinema: As Told by the Filmmakers and Actors who Made it. Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-70520-4.
- The New York Times Biographical Service. University Microfilms. July 1985.
- Patricia Burgess; Roland Turner (1988). The Annual Obituary. St. Martin's.
- Diana Hawkins; Richard Attenborough (4 September 2014). Entirely Up to You, Darling. Random House. pp. 68–. ISBN 978-1-4481-0604-2.
- Carney, George; Goring, Marius; Petrie, Hay (1 January 2000), Consider Your Verdict, retrieved 28 January 2017
- "BFI Screenonline: Boulting Brothers". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- ""Pastor Hall."". The Sydney Morning Herald (32, 069). New South Wales, Australia. 10 October 1940. p. 18. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "The 16th Academy Awards | 1944". Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- "TWIN PRODUCERS". Cairns Post (13, 838). Queensland, Australia. 10 July 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- ""THE GUINEA PIG"". Northern Times. 75, (52). Western Australia. 27 December 1951. p. 8. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- "Charge of wasting film money". The Sun (2387). New South Wales, Australia. 9 January 1949. p. 31. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "FILM GOSSIP FROM LONDON AND HOLLYWOOD EVEN THE ACTORS DON'T KNOW FULL STORY". Sunday Times (Perth) (2693). Western Australia. 9 October 1949. p. 2 (Sunday Times Comics). Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Barr, Charles (7 November 2001). "Roy Boulting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 28 Dec 1956: 3
- "A FACULTY OF FUN". The Australian Women's Weekly. 25, (39). Australia, Australia. 5 March 1958. p. 60. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- FOUR BRITISH FILMS IN 'TOP 6': BOULTING COMEDY HEADS BOX OFFICE LIST Our own Reporter. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 11 Dec 1959: 4.
- The Times, 3 January 1964, page 4: Most Popular Films Of 1963 - found in The Times Digital Archive 2012-07-11
- "LEISURE-THE ARTS New star for UK films". The Canberra Times. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 17 January 1967. p. 12. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "CLASSIC SIXTIES DIRECTOR ROY BOULTING LOSES BATTLE WITH". us.hellomagazine.com.
- "Hayley Mills, 28, and Roy Boulting, 61: Pollyanna Never Had It So Happy – Vol. 3 No. 14". 14 April 1975.
- "Lucy Boulting". IMDb. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Duerden, Nick (31 July 2014). "Rizzle Kicks interview: The Brighton boys are on a roll". The Independent.
- "Enid Grunwald: F, #183423". The Peerage. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- "Earl Weds Mrs. Enid Boulting". The New York Times. 29 April 1970. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- "Enid Boulting with her children Fitzroy, Edmund and Rupert". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- Burton Alan, O'Sullivan Tim, Wells Paul; Eds. 2000. The Family Way: The Boulting Brothers and British Film Culture. Trowbridge: Flicks Books. ISBN 0-948911-59-X