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Peter Glenville

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Title: Peter Glenville  
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Subject: Summer and Smoke (film), Uncensored (film), Tony Award for Best Director, Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play
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Peter Glenville

Peter Glenville
Born Peter Patrick Brabazon Browne
(1913-10-28)28 October 1913
Hampstead, London, England, UK
Died 3 June 1996(1996-06-03) (aged 82)
New York City, New York
Occupation Actor, stage director

Peter Glenville (born Peter Patrick Brabazon Browne; 28 October 1913 – 3 June 1996) was an English film and stage actor and director.


Born in Hampstead, London into a theatrical family, Glenville was the son of Shaun Glenville (born John Browne, 1884–1968), an Irish-born comedian, and Dorothy Ward, both pantomime performers.[1]

Peter Glenville was educated by Jesuits at Stonyhurst College, one of England's leading Catholic public schools, and from there went up to Christ Church, Oxford where he read Jurisprudence. At university, he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) and in 1934, became its President and also made his professional stage debut. Over the next several years, Glenville was active in the theatre and films as an actor, gradually developing an interest in directing, and leading to his 1944 appointment as director for the Old Vic Company. After World War II, Glenville met Hardy William Smith (1916-2001). They became professional and life partners, Glenville as director and Smith as producer of plays both in London and New York.


Glenville's directorial debut on Hotel Paradiso (1957).[2] Glenville directed the 1955 film version of The Prisoner, his film directorial debut. Both the play and the film starred his friend Alec Guinness.

In the 1960s, Glenville and Smith moved from London to New York and continued to work in the theatre and in films. From that period was the musical Take Me Along (1959–60), based on Eugene O'Neill's play Ah, Wilderness!, with Jackie Gleason, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Morse, Una Merkel and Eileen Herlie. In 1960, Glenville also directed Barbara Bel Geddes and Henry Fonda in Silent Night, Lonely Night by Robert Anderson.

In 1961, he directed Jean Anouilh's play Becket which starred Laurence Olivier as Thomas Becket and Anthony Quinn as Henry II. An erroneous story arose in later years that during the run, Quinn and Olivier switched roles and Quinn played Becket to Olivier's King. Critic Howard Taubman, in his book The Making of the American Theatre, supports this story, as does a biographer of Laurence Olivier. In fact, Quinn left the production for a film, never having played Becket, and director Glenville suggested a road tour with Olivier as Henry. Olivier happily acceded and Arthur Kennedy took on the role of Becket for the tour and brief return to Broadway.[3][4]

In 1962–63, he directed Quinn and Margaret Leighton in Tchin-Tchin. This was followed by the musical Tovarich (1963) with Vivien Leigh and Jean-Pierre Aumont. For Dylan, based on the life of Dylan Thomas (1964), Glenville worked once again with his frequent collaborator, Sir Alec Guinness. He also directed Edward Albee's adaptation of Giles Cooper's play Everything in the Garden (1967), John Osborne's A Patriot for Me (1969) with Maximilian Schell, Salome Jens and Tommy Lee Jones in his Broadway debut, and Tennessee Williams' Out Cry (1973).

He also directed the films Me and the Colonel (1958) with Danny Kaye, Summer and Smoke (1961) with Geraldine Page and Laurence Harvey, Term of Trial (1962) with Laurence Olivier, Simone Signoret and Sarah Miles, Becket (1964) with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole, Hotel Paradiso (1966)[2] with Guinness and Gina Lollobrigida and The Comedians (1967) with Elizabeth Taylor, Burton, Guinness and Peter Ustinov.

In 1970 Glenville directed another new Terence Rattigan play in the West End, A Bequest to the Nation[5] and in 1971 began work on the film project of Man of La Mancha, but when he failed to agree with United Artists on the production, he bowed out. In 1973 he directed the original production of Tennessee Williams's Out Cry, after which he retired and eventually moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Glenville was nominated for four Tony Awards, two Golden Globe Awards (Becket and Me and the Colonel), one Academy Award (Becket) and one Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Term of Trial.

He died in New York City, aged 82, from a heart attack.[6]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Profile of Glenville's parents, John and Dorothy (née Ward) Browne
  2. ^ a b Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 365.  
  3. ^ Time Magazine, 7 April 1961
  4. ^ Spoto, Donald, Laurence Olivier: A Biography, New York: HarperCollins, pp. 360-368
  5. ^ The Collected Plays of Terence Rattigan, Vol. 4, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1978 ISBN 0-241-89996-6
  6. ^ Guinness, Alec, My Name Escapes Me, Penguin Books, 1996.

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