Ken Hughes was an award-winning writer and director who flourished in the 1950s and 1960s, though he continued directing into the early 1980s. Born in Liverpool, England, on January 19, 1922, Hughes decided early in his life that he wanted to be a filmmaker. When he was 14 years old he won an amateur movie-making contest.
In 1952 his first feature, the crime drama "Wide Boy", was released. By 1955 he was working with imported American character actor Paul Douglas in the quirky "Joe MacBeth", a retelling of William Shakespeare's tragedy recast as a modern film noir. Hughes directed the movie and wrote the screenplay. That film led to his directing more English pictures with imported Hollywood B-list stars, including Arlene Dahl and Victor Mature. In a reverse of the Atlantic trade, he exported a script to the US, which was picked up by "Alcoa Theater" and aired as "Eddie", starring Mickey Rooney and directed by Jack Smight. It brought Hughes an Emmy Award for his teleplay.
His favorite of his many movies was "The Trials of Oscar Wilde", starring Peter Finch as the doomed writer. He was nominated for three BAFTA Awards and Finch took home the BAFTA as Best Actor. It also won the Samuel Goldwyn Award for Best English-Language Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.
During the 1960s Hughes worked on A-List pictures, including "Of Human Bondage", an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's book, but it did not make anyone forget the Bette Davis-Leslie Howard classic of 30 years earlier ("Of Human Bondage"). He also toiled as one of the five directors on the cinematic mishmash "Casino Royale", which was a box-office smash but a critical bomb.
His greatest hit was the adaptation of another Ian Fleming work, his children's book "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The movie was a huge hit, but Hughes was dissatisfied with it. His next picture, the historical epic "Cromwell" (1970), got good reviews, but did not burn up the turnstiles at theaters.
His career slowed down in the 1970s, the low point of which was undoubtedly his directing 83-year-old Mae West, vamping eternally as the 30-something sexpot she imagined herself in her mind, in the Golden Turkey "Sextette", a critical and box-office dud. He ended his career directing the exploitation film "Night School", a slasher pic starring a then-unknown Rachel Ward.
After a period of declining health, Ken Hughes died on April 28, 2001, in Los Angeles. He was 79 years old.
Name: Ken Hughes
Known for: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
BirthDay: 19, Jan ,1922