Cat no. 226500

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Pat Jackson (film director)

1990s

Pat Jackson (25 March 1916 - 3 June 2011)
Interviewed by John Legard

Pat Jackson entered the film industry as a documentary film maker, working at the GPO Film Unit (later Crown FIlm Unit) from 1934. His most well known film is 'Western Approaches' (1944). After an unhappy stint at MGM in California, he returned to Britain to direct documentary influenced features such as 'White Corridors' (1951) as well as comedies such as 'What A Carve Up!' (1961).

In this lengthy interview he talks to John Legard about his memories of the British Documentary movement, the atmosphere and personalities of the GPO Film Unit and particularly the influence of Harry Watt and the idea of the story documentary on Jackson's own work. He recalls working on specific productions such as 'Night Mail' (1936), 'The Saving of Bill Blewitt' (1936), 'London Can Take It' (1940) and 'Patent Ductus Arteriosus' (1947). He gives a detailed account of the production difficulties on 'Western Approaches', and of his unhappy sojourn in California. There is a brief outline of his later career.

This interview contains many fascinating and beautifully told anecdotes. Jackson recalls the many figures he has worked with, and discusses his ideas about documentary and the use of non-professional actors with great clarity and élan.

(Lawrence Napper, BCHRP)