Eric Ambler

Active - 1942 - 1974  |   Born - Jun 28, 1909 in London, England  |   Died - Oct 22, 1998   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Action, Thriller, War

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Eric Ambler is a novelist and screenwriter who during his almost 20-year career penned many feature films; several of his books have also been adapted into movies. Before becoming a novelist, Ambler attended the University of London, worked as an engineer, a stage actor, and an advertising copywriter. Prior to becoming a script consultant for renowned director Alexander Korda in 1938, he had written four novels. Two years later he joined the British Army as a private working in different areas of military filmmaking, including working with a combat unit in Italy, and as an assistant director of army cinematography in the British War Office where he headed the production of all educational and morale films until he was discharged as a lieutenant colonel. He then became a screenwriter for the Rank Organisation. As a writer of suspense thrillers, Ambler was influential for creating anti-heroes who moved about in dark, gritty environments. In addition to his own work, he has also collaborated with Charles Rodda under the pen name Eliot Reed. His script for The Cruel Sea (1953) was nominated for an Academy Award.

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Factsheet

  • Prior to finding his calling, worked as an engineer, a stage actor, and an advertising copywriter.
  • In 1938, became a script consultant for director Alexander Korda; during World War II, became a military filmmaker in the British Army.
  • An acclaimed writer of espionage thrillers, he wrote screenplays for many feature films and had several novels adapted for the screen, including his 1939 novel A Coffin for Demetrios, which became the 1944 hit The Mask of Demetrios.
  • Won the 1964 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award for The Light of Day, a 1962 novel that was the basis for the 1964 film Topkapi that featured his war buddy Peter Ustinov in an Oscar-winning performance.
  • Television work in the 1950s and '60s included writing for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Hitchcock's Suspicion, as well as producing the ABC anthology series Alcoa Premiere.
  • Second wife Joan Harrison, a screenwriter, had once been an assistant to Alfred Hitchcock, who was a witness to the couple's 1958 wedding.