There were few women working as film directors in the 1950s, and only Wendy Toye and Muriel Box managed to overcome the sexism of their times to make British features. But unlike Box, Wendy Toye also had a significant career outside of cinema.
Dance was her first love and she started early. By the age of nine she was already choreographing ballets. She made her film debut among the chorus of Dance Pretty Lady and got a small bit in Invitation to the Waltz. In the late 30s, illness forced her to give up ballet, but she continued to dance and her career as a choreographer blossomed. She created dances for films as diverse as The Thief of Bagdad and South American George.
Impresario CB Cochran was helpful in her promotion from choreographer to director. Her first directing gig was his musical production Big Ben which opened in 1946. This lead to other directing gigs and even a Broadway production of Peter Pan.
In the early 50s, she gave casting advice to George K Arthur who had been a leading actor in silents but was now looking to start a career in shorts production. He offered her the directing job in his first production and the resulting film, The Stranger Left No Card, was a hit - winning the short film prize at Cannes. This got her a Korda contract and her first feature, The Teckman Mystery. On Korda's death her contract went to Rank where she was handed a few fluffy comedies. She was always proud of her efficiency and for bringing each film on-budget - qualities much-appreciated at Rank under John Davies.
She returned to theatre when the film work dried and was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977. She remade The Stranger Left No Card for the Tales of the Unexpected TV series in 1981.
|1952||The Stranger Left No Card (short)|
|1954||The Teckman Mystery|
|1955||On the Twelfth Day (short)|
|1955||Raising a Riot|
|1955||Three Cases of Murder (co-dir)|
|1955||All for Mary|
|1957||True as a Turtle|
|1962||We Joined the Navy|
|1963||The King's Breakfast|
Wendy Toye at Amazon UK
Wendy Toye at Amazon US