Biography of Jack Clayton

Jack Clayton was a director and producer from England, known especially for his adaptations of literature into film. His most well-known films are Room at the Top in 1959, The Innocents in 1961, and The Great Gatsby in 1974.

After making his start in film as a teenager, acting as a "tea boy" in the 1930s, Clayton took on various jobs in different departments before becoming a full-blown director. He shot his first film, a documentary called Naples is a Battlefield, in 1944 while serving in the Royal Air Force. His 2nd film was The Bespoke Overcoat in 1956, a short film based on Nikolai Gogol's short story. Room at the Top brought him widespread acclaim, and heralded the beginning of the British New Wave. After turning down many projects, Clayton directed The Innocents, an adaptation of the Henry James story The Turn of the Screw. The screenplay was by Truman Capote and the film starred Deborah Kerr.

After The Pumpkin Eater, with a screenplay written by Harold Pinter, and Our Mother's House, Clayton took on the American classic The Great Gatsby. The film was well received, and got especially high praise from American dramatist Tennessee Williams, who wrote, "It seems to me that quite a few of my stories, as well as my one acts, would provide interesting and profitable material for the contemporary cinema, if committed to ... such cinematic masters of direction as Jack Clayton, who made of The Great Gatsby a film that even surpassed, I think, the novel by Scott Fitzgerald."

Study Guides on Works by Jack Clayton