Star of the Month

Thomas Bentley (1880 - ?)

Thomas Bentley managed the best part of thirty years as one of Britain's premiere directors, and yet he's virtually a forgotten figure these days. Partly that's because his best work was in the silent era, and partly because his output was aimed at the "respectable" audience that preferred literary adaptations to racier fare. Indeed, he's so forgotten it's hard to establish his date of death since the best sources have a range from 1950 to 1966.

Bentley was a Londoner who trained as an engineer. He preferred a life on the stage and went on the Halls as a Charles Dickens impersonator. Dickens would be a constant throughout his career and his first entry into film was acting for the Hepworth company in Leaves from the Books of Charles Dickens (1912). After that it was directing all the way, and he began with a run of Dickens adaptations.  

Bentley left Hepworth to join the British Actors Film Company. When his film The Lackey and the Lady was rejected by a distributor on the grounds that it was not of "sufficiently high standard", Bentley sued for slander and won. Throughout the 20s, Bentley continued to work productively for a variety of companies, despite the poor state of the British industry. He sailed through the upheavals surrounding the introduction of the talkies even though Young Woodley was withdrawn due to its controversial subject matter.

As the 30s wore on, he slotted into the better-budgeted end of quota production, and even had one last go at a Dickens adaptation with The Old Curiosity Shop. His last film was the defiantly low-budget Old Mother Riley's Circus and then he retired.

As a director he was perhaps unambitious with few stylistic quirks, but that was probably what the audience his films were aimed at required. His films are competent and enjoyable, and if they never reached the heights of classics, they never plumbed the depths of turkeys either.   


1912 Oliver Twist
1913 David Copperfield
1913 The Old Curiosity Shop
1914 The Chimes
1915 Barnaby Rudge
1915 Hard Times
1915 A Soul for Sale
1916 Beau Brocade
1916 Milestones
1917 The Labour Leader
1917 Daddy
1917 Les Cloches de Corneville
1918 Once Upon a Time
1918 The Divine Gift
1919 The Lackey and the Lady
1920 General Post
1920 Beyoned the Dreams of Avarice
1921 The Old Curiosity Shop
1921 The Adventures of Mr Pickwick
1922 A Master of Craft
1923 Through Fire and Water
1923 Shadow of Death
1923 The Battle of Love
1923 The Courage of Despair
1923 The Velvet Woman
1923 Seret Mission
1924 Old Bill through the Ages
1924 Love and Hate
1924 Wanted, A Boy
1924 After Dark
1924 The Cavern Spider
1924 Chappy: That's All
1925 Money Isn't Everything
1925 A Romance of Mayfair
1926 The Man in the Street
1927 White Heat
1927 The Antidote
1927 The Silver Lining
1928 Not Quite a Lady
1929 Acci-dental Treatment
1929 The American Prisoner
1930 Harmony Heaven
1930 Young Woodley
1930 Compromising Daphne
1931 Keepers of Youth
1931 Hobson's Choice
1932 After Office Hours
1932 The Last Coupon
1932 Sleepless Nights
1933 Hawley's of High Street
1933 The Love Nest
1934 The Scotland Yard Mystery
1934 Those Were the Days
1934 The Great Defender
1934 The Old Curiosity Shop
1935 Royal Cavalcade
1936 Music Hath Charms
1936 She Knew What She Wanted
1937 The Angelus
1937 Silver Blaze
1937 The Last Chance
1938 Night Alone
1938 Marigold
1939 Me and My Pal
1939 Lucky to Me
1940 Dead Man's Shoes
1940 The Middle Watch
1940 Three Silent Men
1940 Cavalcade of Variety
1941 Old Mother Riley's Circus

Thomas Bentley at Amazon UK 

Thomas Bentley at Amazon US