Terence Young (director)

Shaun Terence Young (20 June 1915 7 September 1994) was a British film director and screenwriter best known for directing three James Bond films, including the first two films in the series, Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963), as well as Thunderball (1965). All three films starred Sean Connery as Bond.

Terence Young
Shaun Terence Young[1]

20 June 1915
Died7 September 1994(1994-09-07) (aged 79)
Cannes, France
OccupationFilm director
Spouse(s)Dorothea Bennett


The son of a Police Commissioner of the Shanghai Municipal Police, Young was born in Shanghai, China and was public-school educated. He read oriental history at St Catharine's College at the University of Cambridge.

Film career

Young began his career in the film industry as a screenwriter, earning a credit for Brian Desmond Hurst's On the Night of the Fire (1939), A Call for Arms (1940), Dangerous Moonlight (1941), and A Letter from Ulster (1942) and for other directors on Secret Mission (1942), On Approval (1944).

Commissioned in the Irish Guards, Young was a tank commander during World War II where he participated in Operation Market Garden in Arnhem, Netherlands.

In 1946, he returned to assist Hurst again with the script of Theirs Is the Glory, which told the story of the fighting around Arnhem Bridge. Arnhem, coincidentally, was home to an adolescent Audrey Hepburn. During the later filming of Young's film Wait Until Dark, Hepburn and Young joked that he had been shelling his favorite star without even knowing it.

Young worked on the screenplays for Hurst's Hungry Hill (1947) and David McDonald's Bad Lord Byron (1949).


Young's first sole credit as director (and also Christopher Lee's film debut) was Corridor of Mirrors (1948), an acclaimed film made in France. He followed it with a musical One Night with You (1948); Woman Hater (1948), a comedy with Stewart Granger; They Were Not Divided (1950), based on his own life in the Irish Guards. Young also directed Valley of Eagles (1951) and The Tall Headlines (1952).

Warwick Films

He then made the first film for Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli's Warwick Films, The Red Beret with Alan Ladd.

Young made That Lady (1955) in Spain with Olivia de Havilland and Storm Over the Nile (1955), an essentially shot-for-shot remake of the 1939 film The Four Feathers.

Warwick asked Young back to do Safari (1956), a movie about the Mau Mau, with Victor Mature. For the same company, he did Zarak (1957), also with Mature.

MGM hired him to make Action of the Tiger (1957) with Van Johnson; a young Sean Connery had a supporting role. No Time to Die (1958) was Young's fourth film for Warwick, and third with Mature. He made Serious Charge (1959), which was Cliff Richard's film debut; Too Hot to Handle (1960) with Jayne Mansfield; Black Tights (1961) in France; and Duel of Champions (1961) in Italy with Alan Ladd.

James Bond

Albert Broccoli and Irving Allen had split as a producing team, and Broccoli went into partnership with Harry Saltzman to make a series of films based on the James Bond novels. Broccoli used many of the crew he had worked with during his time at Warwick for the first Bond movies, including Young as director. Young made a crucial contribution to Dr. No (1962), including recruiting Sean Connery to portray Bond. Actress Lois Maxwell later said that "Terence took Sean under his wing. He took him to dinner, to his tailor, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat."[2]

The movie was a huge success and was quickly followed by From Russia with Love (1963), an even bigger hit. During the filming, Young and a photographer nearly drowned when their helicopter crashed into the sea while filming a key sequence. They were rescued by other members of the film crew. Young was back behind the camera 30 minutes after being rescued.

Young was deluged with offers and elected not to direct Goldfinger. Instead he made The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). Young was called back for Thunderball (1965), the fourth Bond movie.

According to Young, he was offered and turned down the direction of Bond films For Your Eyes Only and Never Say Never Again.

European films

Following Thunderball, Young's work was focused in Europe.

Young directed part of the 1965 espionage portmanteau film The Dirty Game. He provided the story for Atout cœur à Tokyo pour OSS 117 (1966) and directed the all-star The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966). He followed this with Triple Cross (1966), and The Rover (1967). Young had a hit with Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn. In a 1967 interview he said his three best films were Black Tights, From Russia with Love and They Were Not Divided.[3]

He then directed Mayerling (1968), with Omar Sharif and The Christmas Tree (1969) with William Holden.

He made three films with Charles Bronson: Cold Sweat (1970), Red Sun (1972) and The Valachi Papers (1972).

Later films

Young's later films include War Goddess (a.k.a. The Amazons) (1973), and The Klansman (1974) (replacing Samuel Fuller). He worked on Jackpot but the film was never finished.

Later credits include Bloodline (1979), Inchon (1982) about the Battle of Inchon with Laurence Olivier, The Jigsaw Man (1983) with Michael Caine and Olivier (replacing the original director), and Run for Your Life (1988). Olivier and Young had been friends since 1943 when Olivier had initially offered the direction of his film Henry V (1944) to Young, who declined.[4]

Young contributed to the screenplay for the Hong Kong film Foxbat (1977), which led to him being credited as co-director in some regions. Young was the editor of The Long Days (Al-ayyam al-tawila) (1980), a six-hour Iraqi telenovela about the life of Saddam Hussein, which also led to him being credited as co-director in some regions.[5]

Personal life

His wife was the novelist Dorothea Bennett. He died of a heart attack while working on a documentary at the age of 79 in Cannes.


  1. BFI ScreenOnline: Young, Terence (1915-1994) Linked 2012-10-18
  2. Macintyre, Ben (2009). For Your Eyes Only : Ian Fleming and James Bond. London: Bloomsbury. p. 187. ISBN 9780747598664.
  3. Terence Young's Post-Bond Views Los Angeles Times 21 Feb 1967: e9.
  4. Laurence Olivier by Donald Spoto, Fontana, 1992, p.214
  5. Mark Bowden, "Tales of the Tyrant", The Atlantic Monthly, May 2002

Further reading

  • Gerosa, Mario (2009). Il cinema di Terence Young. Piombino: Il Foglio. ISBN 978-88-7606-230-8.
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