Karel Reisz

Active - 1957 - 1999  |   Born - Jul 21, 1926   |   Died - Nov 25, 2002   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Thriller

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Biography by AllMovie

Czech-born Karel Reisz was 12 when his father, a Jewish lawyer, felt it expedient to bundle his son to England before Hitler entrenched himself in the Sudetenland. Sadly, Reisz ended up the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Educated at the Quaker's Leighton Park School, Reisz served with the RAF, then became a chemistry student at Cambridge. After two years as a teacher in the London school system, Reisz began writing film criticism for such specialized magazines as Sight and Sound. With fellow future director Lindsay Anderson, Reisz founded the influential film periodical Sequence. After the publication of his book The Technique of Film Editing (a remarkably incisive effort, considering that he'd never set foot on a movie soundstage), Reisz was a firmly established leader of Britain's Free Cinema movement; he got a chance to put his theories in practice when he and Tony Richardson co-directed the influential "night life" documentary Momma Don't Allow (1955). He turned to non-documentary filmmaking with his first solo feature, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), essentially an outgrowth of the disenfranchised-youth theme he'd previously explored in Momma Don't Allow. Most of his later films were celebrations of eccentric individualism, such as Morgan! (1966), Isadora (1968), and The Gambler (1974). In 1981, Reisz, together with scenarist Harold Pinter, met and mastered the challenge of translating John Fowles' complex novel The French Lieutenant's Woman to the screen. Twice married, Karel Reisz's second wife was actress Betsy Blair, best known for her portrayal of the "dog" heroine in Marty (1955).

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