South African-born director Henry Cornelius began his career working in Berlin as an actor and stage director. After the Nazi occupation of Berlin in 1933, Cornelius fled to France and became a student at the Sorbonne. During his time as a student he became an assistant editor, and in 1935 he traveled to England with Rene Clair to film Clair's The Ghost Goes West. He was subsequently promoted to full film editor. Returning to his birthplace of South Africa during the war years, Cornelius wrote documentaries and worked as a produced and director there. After the war he traveled to England and worked as an associate producer and screenwriter, becoming a full-time director after 1949 and making two of British comedies: Passport to Pimlico and Genevieve.