Alexander Korda  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sir Alexander Korda (16 September 1893 – 23 January 1956) was a Hungarian-born British producer and film director. He was a leading figure in the British film industry, the founder of London Films and the owner of British Lion Films, a film distributing company.


Life and career

The elder brother of filmmakers Zoltán Korda and Vincent Korda, Korda was born as Sándor László Kellner to a Jewish family in Pusztatúrpásztó in Hungary (Austria-Hungary), where he worked as a journalist (supporting the Hungarian Soviet Republic) before going into films as a producer. He also worked in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Hollywood, becoming director of United Artists. He worked closely with many artists on his films, including his Hungarian friend, painter and set designer Emile Lahner.

The first film Korda made in the United States, in 1927, was titled The Stolen Bride. By 1932 he had made 16 further films in the U.S. The last of these, Service for Ladies, was made in 1931 and released in 1932 after Korda had settled to London. In 1936 he took out British citizenship.Template:Citation needed

In 1932 Korda founded London Films with Big Ben as the company logo. The companies release's included The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Rembrandt (1936), both of which starred Charles Laughton and were directed by Korda. Other successes included The Four Feathers (1939), Q Planes (1939), The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Korda's brothers Vincent, an art director, and Zoltan, a film director, were involved with his projects.

London Film's Denham Film Studios was financed by the Prudential and opened in 1936. Korda though soon had financial difficulties and management of the Denham complex was merged with Pinewood in 1939 becoming part of the Rank Organisation.

Wartime in Europe meant The Thief of Bagdad had to be completed in Hollywood where Korda was again based for a few years. While in the United States, Korda produced and directed That Hamilton Woman (1941) and supervised Jungle Book (1942), a live action version of the Kipling story directed by Zoltan Korda.

Returning to the UK, Korda, via London Films, bought a controlling interest in British Lion Films which was involved in such productions as The Third Man (1949). The last film with Korda's involvement was Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Richard III (1955). A draft screenplay of what became The Red Shoes was written by Emeric Pressburger in the 1930s for Korda and intended as a vehicle for his future wife Merle Oberon. The screenplay was bought by Michael Powell and Pressburger who made it for J. Arthur Rank.

In 1942, Alexander Korda was knighted for his contribution to the war effort, He died at the age of 62 in London of a heart attack and was cremated. His ashes are at Golders Green Crematorium in London.


Korda was married three times, first to Hungarian actress María Corda in 1919. They had one son, Peter Vincent Korda, and divorced in 1930. In 1939, he married film star Merle Oberon, but the marriage ended in divorce six years later. He married, lastly, on 8 June 1953, Alexandra Boycun, who survived him.

Michael Korda, the author of a roman à clef about Merle Oberon published after her death entitled Queenie, is Alexander Korda's nephew via his younger brother Vincent.

1936 Film Commission

Korda was also an important contributor to the 1936 Moyne Commission formed to protect British film production from competition, mainly from the United States. Korda said: "If American interests obtained control of British production companies they may make British pictures here but the pictures made would be just as American as those made in Hollywood. We are now on the verge of forming a British school of film making in this country."


The Alexander Korda Award for "Outstanding British Film of the Year" is given in his honor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Alexander Korda" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools