Ken Annakin was proud of his reputation as a commercial rather than an arty director. Though few of his works feature in lists of the greatest films ever made he managed to spend forty years making some of the most popular and successful films of his era. He is king of Bank Holiday telly.
He was born in Beverley, the son of a surveyor. After leaving grammar school he spent four years working in a tax office. A lucky win on the Derby gave him enough money for a return ticket to New Zealand and he took off on a trip of a lifetime. When he came back he was determined not to go back to the Inland Revenue, so he took a succession of jobs until the war started. A near miss with a bomb took him out of the RAF and into propaganda.
He started at Verity Films, the documentary unit run by Sidney and Muriel Box. He made about a dozen short documentaries (none of them classics) and when the Boxes moved to Gainsborough at the end of the war, so did he.
His first feature film as director was Holiday Camp, the popular success that brought the Huggett family to the screen. He directed the other three films in the Huggetts series but also found time for several other pictures including Miranda.
His output in the 50s was fairly standard, but he did make a valuable connection with Disney which lead to one of his greatest successes: the evergreen family favourite Swiss Family Robinson. From there is was a small stretch to some of the best of those all-star epics the 60s were so fond of.
Though his career slowed down in the 70s, he kept busy. He moved to Los Angeles and continued to devise new projects right up until his death including writing an autobiography So You Wanna Be a Director?
|1948||Here Come the Huggetts|
|1949||Vote for Huggett|
|1949||The Huggetts Abroad|
|1952||The Planter's Wife|
|1952||The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men|
|1952||The Sword and the Rose|
|1954||You Know What Sailors Are|
|1955||value for Money|
|1956||Loser Takes All|
|1956||Three Men in a Boat|
|1957||Across the Bridge|
|1958||Nor the Moon by Night|
|1959||Third Man on the Mountain|
|1960||Swiss Family Robinson|
|1961||Very Important Person|
|1962||The Longest Day (co.)|
|1962||The Fast Lady|
|1964||Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines|
|1965||Battle of the Bulge|
|1966||The Long Duel|
|1967||The Biggest Bundle of Them All|
|1969||Monte Carlo or Bust|
|1972||Call of the Wild|
|1977||The Fifth Musketeer|
|1980||Cheaper to Keep Her|
|1982||The Pirate Movie|
|1986||The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking|
Ken Annakin at Amazon UK
Ken Annakin at Amazon US