Monday, August 10, 2009

Remembering Ken Annakin

After early experiences making documentary films Kenneth ‘Ken’ Annakin, born August 10, 1914 in Beverly, Yorkshire England, made his feature film debut in 1947 for the Rank Organization with “We of the Fast Riding”. Ken quickly moved on and directed three films for Gainsborough Pictures about the Huggetts, a working class family living in suburban England. He gained worldwide recognition for his series of films he directed for Walt Disney among which were 1952’s “The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men”, 1953’s “The Sword and the Rose” and most importantly 1960s “The Swiss Family Robinson”. He was then asked to direct the British segments for Darryl F. Zanuck’s film “The Longest Day” (1962). Then came his most ambitious films “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” and “The Battle of the Bulge” both in 1965. He also directed smaller but well received films such as “The Fast Lady” (1962), “Quartet” (1965), “The Informers” (1963) and earlier successes such as “Trio” (1950) and “Across the Bridge” (1957). Ken Annakin directed several films with a European Western slant “The Hellions” in 1961 which was based in South Africa and the 1972 big budget version of Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” starring Charlton Heston. Among other things he was also a screenwriter, song writer and singer. He was knighted and became a member of the British OBE in 2002. It has always been rumored that Star Wars character Annakin Skywalker was named after Ken by his friend George Lucas but he denied this after Ken’s death on April 22 in Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A. of this year. We remember this great director today on what would have been his 95 the birthday.

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