Star Archive

Maurice Elvey (1887 - 1967)

Few directors have been as derided as Maurice Elvey. For some, he represents all that's bad about British films. Yet he holds the record for the number of British films he directed and his reputation is undergoing something of a renaissance. He must have done something right.

He was born William Seward Folkard in Stockton-on-Tees. His family was poor and he was working as a hotel pageboy by the age of nine. He took to the stage as an actor at 17 and moved from stage directing to films, directing his first feature in 1913.

He quickly got into the swing of things. I don't know how he avoided the draft for WWI, but he spent the time producing over 40 features. After the war he continued in the same vein. The filmography below doesn't include the 15 short Sherlock Holmes films he made with Ellie Norwood, Conan Doyle's favourite in the role.

In 1923 he met Isobel Elsom on the set of The Wandering Jew. They were soon married, though it didn't last. He had a brief Hollywood period but came back here to make some of his best films before talkies took over. He also dabbled in colour film processes, helping to finance short-lived process Raycol in which he made The School for Scandal, Britain's first colour talkie.

The 30s meant business as usual, and he was handed some of the most prestigious productions of the era as well as the more ordinary. The 40s were harder (only 9 features) but it's his work in the 50s which gave him such a bad reputation. He made a succession of low-budget stinkers for obscure companies. His total professionalism made him a safe pair of hands for on-time, on-budget completion, but it also made him incapable of struggling against the appalling scripts he was handed. Only the loss of an eye forced him into retirement. 

1996 brought the first showing of The Life Story of David Lloyd George. It was suppressed shortly after its production in 1918, and was rediscovered in the Lloyd George family archives. To everyone's surprise it turned out to be one of the best silent films produced in this country. The following year brought a retrospective of Elvey's work at the Pordenone silent film festival. Now Elvey is seen as a key figure in British cinema, and one of the few to master both silent cinema and the talkies.

Photo on the set of The Water GypsiesPhoto on the set of The Water GypsiesStill from Soldiers of the KingStill from Soldiers of the KingStill from For FreedomProduction still from The Lamp Still Burns

Filmography (features only)

1913 The Great Gold Robbery
1913 Maria Marten
1914 Black-Eyed Susan
1914 The Suicide Club
1914 The Loss of the Birkenhead
1914 The Bells of Rheims
1914 Her Luck in London
1914 It's a Long Way to Tipperary
1914 The Idol of Paris
1914 Beautiful Jim
1915 A Honeymoon for Three
1915 Midshipman Easy
1915 London's Yellow Peril
1915 Florence Nightingale
1915 From Shopgirl to Duchess
1915 Her Nameless Child
1915 Grip
1915 A Will of Her Own
1915 Home
1915 Charity Ann
1915 Love in a Wood
1916 Meg the Lady
1916 Esther
1916 Driven
1916 Vice Versa
1916 Motherlove
1916 When Knights Were Bold
1916 The Princess of Happy Chance
1916 The King's Daughter
1917 Smith
1917 The Grit of the Jew
1917 The Woman Who Was Nothing
1917 Flames
1917 Mary Girl
1917 The Gay Lord Quex
1917 Justice
1917 Dombey and Son
1917 Goodbye
1918 Hindle Wakes
1918 Adam Bede
1918 Nelson
1918 The Life Story of David Lloyd George
1918 Bleak House
1919 Keeper of the Door
1919 Comradeship
1919 The Rocks of Valpré
1919 The Victory Leaders
1919 God's Good Man
1919 Mr Wu
1919 The Swindler
1920 The Elusive Pimpernel
1920 The Amateur Gentleman
1920 At the Villa Rose
1920 The Hundredth Chance
1920 A Question of Trust
1920 The Tavern Knight
1921 Innocent
1921 The Fruitful Vine
1921 The Hound of the Baskervilles
1921 Empty House
1921 A Gentleman of France
1921 A Romance of Wastdale
1921 Man and his Kingdom
1922 The Passionate Debt of Honour
1922 Dick Turpin's Ride to York
1922 Running Water
1923 The Sign of Four
1923 The Wandering Jew
1923 Guy Fawkes
1923 Sally Bishop
1923 Royal Oak
1923 Don Quixote
1924 Henry, King of Navarre
1924 Slaves of Destiny 
1924 The Love Story of Ailette Brunton
1924 My Husband's Wives (U.S.)
1925 The Folly of Vanity (U.S.)
1925 Curly Top (U.S.)
1925 She Wolves (U.S.)
1925 Every Man's Wife (U.S.)
1926 Woman Tempted
1926 Human Law
1926 The Flag Lieutenant
1926 Mademoiselle from Armentieres 
1927 Hindle Wakes
1927 Roses of Picardy
1927 The Flight Commander
1927 The Glad Eye
1927 Quinneys
1928 Mademoiselle Parley Voo
1928 Palais de Danse
1928 You Know What Sailors Are
1929 High Treason
1930 Balaclava
1930 The School for Scandal
1931 Honeymoon Adventure
1931 Sally in Our Alley
1931 Potiphar's Wife
1932 The Water Gypsies
1932 Diamond Cut Diamond (Co.)
1932 Frail Women
1932 In a Monastery Garden
1932 The Lodger
1932 The Marriage Bond
1933 The Lost Chord
1933 I Lived With You
1933 This Week of Grace
1933 The Wandering Jew
1933 Soldiers of the King
1934 Princess Charming
1934 My Song for You
1934 Road House
1934 Love, Life and Laughter
1934 Lily of Killarney
1935 Heat Wave
1935 The Clairvoyant
1935 The Tunnel
1936 Spy of Napoleon
1936 The Man in the Mirror
1937 Change for a Sovereign
1937 Who Killed John Savage?
1937 A Romance in Flanders
1937 Melody and Romance
1938 Who Goes Next?
1938 The Return of the Frog
1938 Lightening Conductor
1939 Sword of Honour
1939 The Spider
1939 Sons of the Sea
1940 Room for Two
1940 For Freedom
1940 Under Your Hat
1942 Salute John Citizen
1943 The Lamp Still Burns
1943 The Gentle Sex (Co.)
1944 Medal for the General
1944 Strawberry Roan
1946 Beware of Pity
1951 The Late Edwina Black
1951 The Third Visitor
1952 My Wife's Lodger
1953 House of Blackmail
1953 The Great Game
1953 Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary?
1954 What Every Woman Wants
1954 The Harassed Hero
1954 The Happiness of Three Women
1954 The Gay Dog
1955 You Lucky People
1955 Room in the House
1955 Fun at St Fanny's
1956 Stars in Your Eyes
1956 Dry Rot
1957 Second Fiddle

 Maurice Elvey at Amazon UK

 Maurice Elvey at Amazon US