Oscar Directors: Brenon, Herbert–Sorrell and Son

June 5, 2020

Herbert Brenon Career Summary:

Social Background:

Born on January 13,  1880, Harry Brenon was a film director during the era of silent movies and throughout the 1930s.

Raised in Dublin, Ireland, he was educated at St Paul’s School and at King’s College London . Before becoming a director, he performed in vaudeville acts with his wife, Helen Oberg.

Some of his more noteworthy films were the first adaptations of Peter Pan (1924), Beau Geste (1926), Sorrell and Son (1927), for which he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar in the first year of the awards, and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) with Lon Chaney.

Read our review of Sorrell and Son (1927)

Oscar Movies: Sorrel and Son Starring H.B. Warner

Skeptical about the new trend of talkies, Brenon spoke disparagingly against the use of sound.  He held that sound was a just a fad, due to the inferiority of silents in the late 1920, soon to be disbanded.

Brenon moved to London in 1934, where he directed several films before retiring in 1940, after directing The Flying Squad.

He died on June 21, 1958, at the age of 78, in Los Angeles, California.

Career Analysis:

In his 27 year career, Brenon made a stronger impression as a director of silent films.  He launched the screen career of Louise Brooks, when she debuted in 1925 in the silent, “The Street of Forgotten Men.”

He directed only 13 sound features and retired at the age of 60.

Select filmography

Silent Films

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913) with King Baggot

Absinthe (1914)

Neptune’s Daughter (1914)

The Kreutzer Sonata (1915) with Theda Bara

The Clemenceau Case (1915) with Theda Bara

The Two Orphans (1915) with Theda Bara

Sin (1915) with Theda Bara

The Soul of Broadway (1915)

A Daughter of the Gods (1916)

Empty Pockets (1918)

Victory and Peace (1918)

The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1918)

12.10 (1919)

The Passion Flower (1921)

Moonshine Valley (1922)

The Spanish Dancer (1923) with Pola Negri and Wallace Beery.

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925) with Louise Brooks in her film debut.

The Alaskan (1924)

Peter Pan (1924)

The Side Show of Life (1924)

A Kiss for Cinderella (1925)

Dancing Mothers (1926) with Alice Joyce, Conway Tearle and Clara Bow.

The Great Gatsby (1926) with Warner Baxter

Beau Geste (1926) with Ronald Colman

Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) with Lon Chaney and Loretta Young


Sound Films: 13

The Rescue (1929) with Ronald Colman and Lily Damita

The Case of Sergeant Grischa (1930)

Honours Easy (1935)

Royal Cavalcade (1935)

Someone at the Door (1936)

Living Dangerously (1936)

The Live Wire (1937)

The Dominant Sex (1937)

Spring Handicap (1937)

Housemaster (1938)

Yellow Sands (1938)

Black Eyes (1939)

The Flying Squad (1940)