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Peter Handford

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Peter Handford

Peter Handford
Born (1919-03-21)21 March 1919
Four Elms, Kent, England
Died 6 November 2007(2007-11-06) (aged 88)
Wickham Skeith, Suffolk, England
Known for Location Sound Recording

Peter Handford (21 March 1919 – 6 November 2007) was an English location sound recordist. He is considered a master and pioneer of this area of sound recording.[1][2]

Life and work

Born into a vicarage family at Four Elms in Kent, England, Handford began work in 1936 with London Films at Denham as a trainee sound recordist.[3] He honed his sound recording skills during the D-Day landings, where he served with the Army Film Unit of the British Expeditionary Force.[4] His first screen credit was on Black Magic (1949) and in the same year he recorded Under Capricorn for Alfred Hitchcock. In 1972, Hitchcock sought him out to work on Frenzy.

Handford pioneered the use of original synchronous sound recording for film director David Lean on Summertime (also known as Summer Madness, 1955) which was shot on location in Venice, and developed the technique during the British New Wave cinema movement, working on films such as Room at the Top (1959), The Entertainer, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Sons and Lovers (all 1960), Billy Liar, Tom Jones (both 1963), Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and on The Go-Between (1971) and other films for Joseph Losey.

He also worked on the 1970s railway-based Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and The Lady Vanishes (1979), on both of which radio microphones were extensively used. Later he went into semi-retirement, working as a freelancer for Anglia Television, but was recalled to the film business by Sydney Pollack for the location sound required on Out of Africa (1985), for which he was awarded the Academy Award for Sound and also a BAFTA. On this film he worked along with Chris Jenkins, Gary Alexander, and Larry Stensvold.[5]

Handford went on to work on Dangerous Liaisons, Gorillas in the Mist[6] (both 1988) and White Hunter Black Heart (1990). His last film was Havana (also 1990).


Handford was also known for his recordings of Helen Fraser whom he first met on location for Billy Liar. He died 6 November 2007, at Wickham Skeith, Suffolk. He is survived by two daughters from his first marriage.


  1. ^ Sloman, Tony (2007-11-30). "'"Peter Handford: Master of sound location shooting who won an Oscar for 'Out of Africa. The Independent. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  2. ^ Clarke, Andrew (2007-11-09). "Obituaries: Peter Handford". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  3. ^ Jones, Kevin P. "Peter Handford". SteamIndex. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  4. ^ Handford, Peter. "Sound Oscars". Association of Motion Picture Sound Newsletter. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  5. ^ "The 58th Academy Awards (1986) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  6. ^ "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  7. ^ "Peter Handford & Transacord records". Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  8. ^ Handford, Peter (1980). Sounds of Railways and their Recording. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.  

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