Michael Relph

Michael Leighton George Relph[1] (16 February 1915 – 30 September 2004) was an English film producer, art director, writer and film director.[2][3] He was the son of actor George Relph.[4]

Michael Relph
Michael Leighton George Relph

(1915-02-16)16 February 1915
Died30 September 2004(2004-09-30) (aged 89)
Selsey, West Sussex, England
OccupationArt director, film producer, film director, writer


Relph began his film career in 1933 as an assistant art director under Alfred Junge at Gaumont British then headed by Michael Balcon. In 1942 Relph began work at Ealing as chief art director, where his designs included the influential 1945 supernatural anthology Dead of Night.

He worked mainly on Basil Dearden's films, and in 1949 was nominated for an Academy Award for art direction for his work on the Stewart Granger vehicle Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948).[5]


Michael Relph also designed for the theatre, particularly the West End in the 1940s, from The Doctor's Dilemma and A Month in the Country, to Nap Hand and The Man Who Came to Dinner.


Relph is largely known as a film producer. He served as associate producer on the Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949); and had a significant 20-year partnership with Basil Dearden beginning in 1949 and ending with Dearden's death in 1971.[6] Their work included a series of social problem films examining issues such as racism (Pool of London and Sapphire), juvenile delinquency (Violent Playground), homosexuality (Victim), and religious intolerance (Life for Ruth).[7][8] Relph believed that because film was "genuinely a mass medium," it therefore had "social and educative responsibilities as well as artistic ones."[9] In their review of Life For Ruth, The New York Times wrote, "in avoiding blatant bias, mawkish sentimentality and theatrical flamboyance, it makes a statement that is dramatic, powerful and provocative."[10]

From 1972 to 1979, Relph was chairman of the British Film Institute's Production Board.[11]


His son, Simon Relph, was also a film producer and former chairman of BAFTA.[4] His daughter, Emma Relph, had several parts on television and in the films as an actress during the 1980s.[12] His stepson Mark Law is a former Fleet Street journalist[13] and author of The Pyjama Game, A Journey Into Judo.

Selected filmography


  1. Dennis Barker. "Obituary: Michael Relph". the Guardian.
  2. "Michael Relph". Oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  3. "Michael Relph | BFI | BFI". Explore.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  4. "Michael Relph". Telegraph. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  5. "Michael Relph - Obituaries - News". The Independent. 2 October 2004. Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  6. "BFI Screenonline: Relph, Michael (1915-2004) Biography". Screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  7. "BFI Screenonline: Dearden, Basil (1911-1971) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  8. "British 60s cinema - The 'Social problem' films of Dearden & Relph". www.british60scinema.net.
  9. Hill, John (1 January 1985). "The British 'Social Problem' Film: 'Violent Playground' and 'Sapphire'". Screen. 26 (1): 34–49. doi:10.1093/screen/26.1.34.
  10. A.H. Weiler (12 September 1966). "Movie Review - Life For Ruth - Screen: Faith and Law:'Walk in the Shadow' Is Disturbingly Real". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  11. Adam Dawtrey (5 October 2004). "Michael Relph". Variety. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  12. "Emma Relph | BFI | BFI". Explore.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  13. Purnell, Sonia (2011). Just Boris, The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity. Aurum Press Ltd.
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