An animator for industrial films, Alexander Mackendrick began writing scripts for British features and helming shorts in the late 1930s. During World War II he worked on documentary films, and in the late '40s he began directing features. He made an immediate hit with his debut film, the sparkling satire Whiskey Galore (aka Tight Little Island, 1948). His major films of the '50s include his memorable Alec Guinness comedies The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955), and his American film Sweet Smell of Success (1957), a stylish drama of a manipulative gossip columnist. Notable among his later work are his adventure films for children, Sammy Going South (1963) and A High Wind in Jamaica (1965), and the American satire Don't Make Waves (1967). After some television directing, he retired in the late '60s and became dean of the California Institute of the Arts film department.