Walter West (director)

Walter Alabaster West (9 November 1885 3 July 1958) was an English film director and producer.[1] He was a partner in the film production company Broadwest Films.

Walter West
Born
Walter Alabaster West

(1885-09-11)11 September 1885
Died7 March 1958(1958-03-07) (aged 72)
Other namesWalter Leonard Alabaster West
OccupationFilm director
Film producer

Early life

Walter West was born in Cookham, Berkshire on 11 September 1885. His early silent films, some of which are in the collection of the BFI National Archive, include The Merchant of Venice (1915). He owned extensive film studios, one of the largest being the glass studios at Walthamstow, London, purchased from Cunard Films. With George Broadbridge (later Lord Broadbridge), he formed the Broadwest Films Company. Films made by Broadwest were not only shown in the UK but exported internationally, including India, New Zealand, Scandinavia and the US. In her book, British Film Studios: An Illustrated History, Patricia Warren writes: "In 1916, Broadwest, who ranked alongside film companies of the day such as Hepworth, Barker and British and Colonial, bought the studio and its equipment... By the end of the war in 1918, Broadwest was recognised as one of the UK's most important film-makers, but nevertheless, along with a number of production companies, they ran into financial difficulties after the post-war boom....by 1921 Broadwest had gone into liquidation." During the second world war, West was making propaganda films for the war effort, commissioned by the government. He also worked as Chief Inspector of Production for ENSA (the organisation providing entertainment for the Services nationwide). Walter West's love of the turf was evident from the subject matter of many of his early silent films. He directed Kings of the Turf (1949) featuring the jockey Gordon Richards.

In the 1950s, he formed his own company again, Walter West Productions, making short films featuring Gordon Richards and also Pat Smyth at White City. His son, Walter Stanley, was also involved in the production of these shorts. Walter West died on 7 March 1958.

Broadwest

In 1914 West created Broadwest Films after acquiring funding from T.G. Broadhurst. The company began at a small studio in Esher and started its production cycle with four comparatively lavish adaptations of popular novels.[2] In 1916 the company moved to a larger studio in Walthamstow where West continued his directing role.[3]

Selected filmography

Bibliography

  • Bamford, Kenton. Distorted Images: British National Identity and Film in the 1920s. I.B. Tauris, 1999.
  • Low, Rachael. The History of British Film, Volume III: 1914-1918. Routledge, 1997.

References

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