Cat no. 226484

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Jill Craigie (film director)


Jill Craigie (7 March 1914 - 13 December 1999)

Best remembered for her landmark documentary, 'The Way We Live' (1946) about the rebuilding of Plymouth, Jill Craigie was a committed documentary film-maker and socialist throughout her career. Having worked as a journalist through the 1930s, she entered the British film industry as a documentary scriptwriter early in the War, her first film was 'Out of Chaos' (1944) profiling British artists in wartime. During the 1950s she worked on scripts for a number of Rank feature films, including 'Trouble in Store' (which she refused a credit for) and 'The Million Pound Note' (both 1953).

This document contains two interviews - one made by the Imperial War Museum and a second made by Rodney Geisler for the BECTU History Project. In both, Craigie recounts her writing and directing career, concentrating on the War and immediate post-war years. She discusses her passionate interest in art, architecture and town planning, citing the writers and philosophers who influenced her thinking, and the effect the experience of wartime had on her Socialist politics. She also discusses her film work, particularly on 'Out of Chaos' and 'The Way We Live', she gives lively impressions of many of the people she worked with, including Henry Moore and John Davis, and provides some interesting comments on the relationship between documentaries and the popular audience.

(Lawrence Napper, BCHRP)