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Jack Clayton

Jack Clayton (1 March 1921 – 26 February 1995) was a British film director and producer who specialised in bringing literary works to the screen. Starting out as a teenage studio "tea boy" in 1935, Clayton worked his way up through British film industry in a career that spanned nearly sixty years. He rapidly rose through a series of increasingly important roles in British film production, before shooting to international prominence as a director with his Oscar-winning feature film debut, the drama Room at the Top (1959); this was followed by the much-lauded horror film The Innocents (1961), adapted from Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. Clayton looked set for a brilliant future, and he was highly regarded by peers and critics alike, but a number of overlapping factors hampered his career. He was a notably 'choosy' director, who by his own admission "never made a film I didn't want to make", and he repeatedly turned down films (including Alien) that became huge hits for other directors. But he was also dogged by bad luck and bad timing – the Hollywood studios labelled him as 'difficult', and studio politics quashed a string of planned films in the 1970s, which were either taken out of his hands, or cancelled in the final stages of preparation. In 1977, he suffered a double blow – his current film was cancelled just two weeks before shooting was due to begin, and a few months later he suffered a serious stroke which robbed him of the ability to speak, and put his career on hold for five years.

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