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Walter C. Mycroft: The Time of My Life (2006) edited by Vincent Porter

author Walter C. Mycroft
editor Vincent Porter
publisher Scarecrow Press (2006)
ISBN 0810857235

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Walter Charles Mycroft (1890-1959) was the film critic of the Evening Standard from 1922-1927, and also a founding member of London's Film Society. In 1928, he was appointed Head of the Scenario Department — and then Director of Production — at British International Pictures (later Associated British Pictures). In 1941 Mycroft was sacked following the death of the company's Managing Director and the requisition of Elstree Studios by the British Government for war purposes. After that his career went into steady decline, although after the Second World War he worked for nearly a decade as Scenario Adviser to Robert Clark, who ran the rebuilt Elstree studios.

This long-lost memoir, which Mycroft wrote mainly in the 1940s, offers a detailed account of the vagaries and complex economic vicissitudes of British film production in the 1930s. Mycroft also recalls how he selected film stories for directors Harry Lachman, E. A. Dupont and Alfred Hitchcock, and he reveals, for the first time, the true story behind Hitchcock's departure from British International Pictures. Mycroft also provides incisive portraits of British film industry captains: the charismatic Alexander Korda, C. M. Woolf, the rising J. Arthur Rank, and above all John Maxwell, the shrewd iconoclastic Scots lawyer who built Associated British into the largest and most financially successful film corporation in pre-war Britain. The memoirs conclude with the death of Maxwell and Mycroft's fall from grace at Elstree.


What Mycroft tells us about Elstree life and production politics is often valuable. But the icing on the cake is his writing style: old fashioned, tart and melodramatic at times, at others absurdly pretentious...Porter was wise not to iron out such kinks, and his introduction is exemplary, examining Mycroft and his Elstree adventures carefully and judiciously, and encouraging us to do the same.
— Sight and Sound (2006)