Rex Ingram (director)

Rex Ingram (born Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock, 15 January 1892 – 21 July 1950) was an Irish film director, producer, writer and actor.[1] Director Erich von Stroheim once called him "the world's greatest director".[2]

Rex Ingram
Ingram, c. 1920
Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock

(1892-01-15)15 January 1892
Dublin, Ireland
Died21 July 1950(1950-07-21) (aged 58)
EducationYale University
OccupationFilm director, producer, writer and actor
Years active1913–1933
EmployerEdison Studios
Fox Film Corporation
Vitagraph Studios
Metro Pictures
Gaumont British
Known forBroken Fetters (1916)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
Scaramouche (1923)
The Magician (1926)
The Three Passions (1929)
Doris Pawn
(m. 1917; div. 1920)

Alice Terry (m. 1921)
RelativesFrancis Clere Hitchcock (brother)
HonorsStar on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street

Early life

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Ingram was educated at Saint Columba's College, near Rathfarnham, County Dublin. He spent much of his adolescence living in the Old Rectory, Kinnitty, Birr, County Offaly where his father was the Church of Ireland rector. He emigrated to the United States in 1911.[2]

His brother Francis joined the British Army and fought during World War I where he was awarded the Military Cross and rose to the rank of Colonel.


Ingram studied sculpture at the Yale University School of Art, where he contributed to campus humour magazine The Yale Record.[3] He soon moved into film, first taking acting work from 1913 and then writing, producing and directing. His first work as producer-director was in 1916 on the romantic drama The Great Problem. He worked for Edison Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Vitagraph Studios, and then MGM, directing mainly action or supernatural films.[2]

In 1920, he moved to Metro, where he was under supervision of executive June Mathis. Mathis and Ingram would go on to make four films together: Hearts are Trump, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Conquering Power, and Turn to the Right. It is believed the two were romantically involved. Ingram and Mathis had begun to grow distant when her new find, Rudolph Valentino, began to overshadow his own fame. Their relationship ended when Ingram eloped with Alice Terry in 1921.

Ingram married twice, first to actress Doris Pawn in 1917; this ended in divorce in 1920.[2] He then married Alice Terry in 1921, with whom he remained for the rest of his life. Both marriages were childless. He and Terry relocated to the French Riviera in 1923. They formed a small studio in Nice and made several films on location in North Africa, Spain, and Italy for MGM and others.[4]

Amongst those who worked for Ingram at MGM on the Riviera during this period was the young Michael Powell, who later went on to direct (with Emeric Pressburger) The Red Shoes and other classics, and technician Leonti Planskoy. By Powell's own account, Ingram was a major influence on him, especially in its themes in illusion, dreaming, magic and the surreal. David Lean said he was indebted to Ingram. MGM studio chief Dore Schary listed the top creative people in Hollywood as D. W. Griffith, Ingram, Cecil B. DeMille and Erich von Stroheim (in declining order of importance).[2]

Carlos Clarens writes: "As Rex Ingram's films became more esoteric, his career declined. The coming of sound forced him to relinquish his studios in Nice. Rather than equip them for talking pictures, he chose instead to travel and pursue a writing career." [5] Rex Ingram made only one talkie, Baroud, filmed for Gaumont British Pictures in Morocco. The film was a not a commercial success and Ingram left the film business, returning to Los Angeles to work as a sculptor and writer.

Interested in Islam as early as 1927, he converted to the faith in 1933.[6]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street.


Ingram died of a cerebral hemorrhage in North Hollywood on 21 July 1950, aged 58.[1][7] He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


Critic Carlos Clarens wrote of Ingram: "A full-blown Irishman fascinated by the bizarre and the grotesque (he once employed a dwarf as a valet), Ingram was also a writer of some talent. Frequently pedestrian and pretentious, Ingram's films nevertheless contain splendid flashes of macabre fantasy, such as the ride of the Four Horsemen in the Valentino epic, or the 'ghoul visions' that bring about the death of the miser in The Conquering Power. His more or less mystical bent was apparent in Mare Nostrum and The Garden of Allah, which he filmed in the Mediterranean and North Africa, respectively."[5]


Ingram's complete filmography as a director:


  1. "Rex Ingram Dead, Film Director, 58. Screen Leader of Silent Era Credited With Discovery of Rudolph Valentino. Directed 'Four Horsemen' Handled Own Stories Scored Many Successes". The New York Times. Associated Press. 23 July 1950. Retrieved 13 March 2015. Rex Ingram, film director of the silent era, who was credited with the discovery of Rudolph Valentino, died last night of a cerebral hemorrhage after a brief illness. He was 58 years old.
  2. Soares, André. Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro, New York: Macmillan, 2002, p. 27; ISBN 0-312-28231-1
  3. Gmur, Leonhard (14 November 2013). Rex Ingram: Hollywood Rebel of the Silver Screen. Germany: epubli GmbH. p. 473.
  4. "New British Film Company; Alastair Mackintosh Leads London Firm – Rex Ingram Is Director", The New York Times, 8 May 1928.
  5. Carlos Clarens.Horror Movies: An Illustrated Survey. London: Secker and Warburg, 1968 (revised enlarged from the 1967 Putnam's edition published under the title An Illustrated History of the Horror Film), p. 73.
  6. "Rex Ingram Embracing Mohammedan Faith; Announces Abandoning Motion-Picture Field", The New York Times, 2 July 1933. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  7. "NNDb profile". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
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