Cat no. 226515

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: E.M. Smedley Aston (production manager)


E.M. Smedley Aston (1912 - ?)
Interviewed by Roy Fowler

E. M. Smedley Aston entered the film industry as a runner at British International Pictures in 1932. Throughout the 1930s he worked as Production Assistant, and Assistant Director at a variety of studios, including Gaumont British, MGM British, and for more cut-price producers such as George King. During the war he joined the RAF Film Unit, and worked in Canada. After the war he worked as Production Manager for the Independent Producers group at Rank on films such as 'Great Expectations' (1946) and 'The Blue Lagoon' (1949). He maintained a particularly strong working relationship with Launder and Gilliat. He became a producer through Group 3 in the 1950s, and his later productions include 'Two Way Stretch' (1960).

In this particularly entertaining and detailed interview, Smedley Aston talks to Roy Fowler about his career, and his memories of many colleagues. There is particularly rich material on BIP Elstree in the early 1930s, with discussions of Robert Maxwell, Joe Grossmann, Walter Mycroft, Fred Zelnick and a host of other 1930s personalities. He recalls his relationship with Launder and Gilliat, and the working practices of Independent Producers in the mid 1940s, and also discusses his experience of working with American directors, Raoul Walsh and Sam Wood. A jolly good read.