Annakin, Ken: Director–Background, Career; Filmography

December 21, 2020

Ken Annakin Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance:

Nationality: UK

Social Class:



Formal Education:


First Film:


First Oscar Nomination:

Gap between First Film and First Nom:

Other Oscars:

Other Oscar Nominations:

Oscar Awards:

Nominations Span:

Best Films: The Longest Day, 1962; aged 48

Genre (specialties): versatile; adventure films


Last Film:


Career Length: 1941-1992 (51 years)

Career Output: about 50



Death: 94; stroke

Kenneth Cooper “Ken” Annakin was born on August 10, 1914 and grew up in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire where he attended the grammar school.

Injured in the Liverpool Blitz, he joined the RAF Film Unit, where he worked as camera operator on propaganda films for the Ministry of Information and the British Council.

We Serve (1942), a recruiting film for women, was directed by Carol Reed, with Annakin as his assistant director.

Annakin directed several training films for Verity Films, a group led by Sydney Box, the future head of Gainsborough Pictures.

His early documentaries included London 1942 (1942), Make Fruitful the Land (1945), We of the West Riding (1945), and English Criminal Justice (1946). He also made the shorts It Began on the Clyde (1946) and Fenlands (1946).

Annakin had made a number of documentaries for Sydney Box and when Box took over as head of Gainsborough Pictures he brought Annakin with him and assigned him to his first feature, Holiday Camp (1947). It was a solid hit and launched Annakin’s career.

Box called in Annakin to replace Michael Charlton who was directing Miranda (1948) with Glynis Johns, and the film was a success. Broken Journey (1948) with Phyllis Calvert was a commercial disappointment. However Quartet (1948), an anthology film where Annakin directed one segment, was well received.

Holiday Camp featured the Huggetts, a working-class family living in suburban England headed by Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison. They were spun off into their own vehicle directed by Annakin, Here Come the Huggetts (1948) with Petula Clark, Jane Hylton, and Susan Shaw as their young daughters, Amy Veness as their grandmother and Diana Dors as their cousin. It was popular and led to Vote for Huggett (1949) and The Huggetts Abroad (1949).

Annakin moved over to Associated British Pictures Corporation for whom he directed Landfall (1949), a war film; and Double Confession (1950), a thriller.
For United Artists he did the comedy Hotel Sahara (1951) with Peter Ustinov.
Walt Disney[edit]

Annakin was hired by Walt Disney to make The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) with Richard Todd. He then made an actioner set during the Malayan Emergency, The Planter’s Wife (1952) with Jack Hawkins and Claudette Colbert, which was a big hit in Britain.

Disney reunited Annakin and Todd on The Sword and the Rose (1953), a commercial flop.

Annakin made a comedy, You Know What Sailors Are (1954) then did another  adventure with Hawkins, The Seekers (1954). He returned to comedy for Value for Money (1955), Loser Takes All (1956) and Three Men in a Boat (1956). The latter especially was popular.

Annakin made Across the Bridge (1957) with Rod Steiger from a story by Graham Greene. He then travelled to South Africa to make another adventure story, Nor the Moon by Night (1958).

Disney called again and hired Annakin to make a mountaineering tale, Third Man on the Mountain (1959). He then helmed Swiss Family Robinson (1960), a huge hit, and one of the greatest family adventures films.

Annakin returned to comedy with Very Important Person (1961) and travelled to South Africa for The Hellions (1962). The Fast Lady (1962) and Crooks Anonymous (1962).

He was later associated with producer Darryl F. Zanuck, when he was hired to direct the British and (uncredited) French and American interior segments in The Longest Day (1962), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, but lost out to Lawrence of Arabia. Annakin then made The Informers (1963).

As head of Fox, Zanuck endorsed Annakin’s most ambitious project Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), also co-written by Annakin for which he received an Oscar nomination.

Annakin also directed the big-scale war film Battle of the Bulge the same year for the Warner Brothers studio. He did The Long Duel (1967) in India for Rank, The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) for MGM in Italy, and Monte Carlo or Bust (1969) for Paramount.

Annakin continued to travel with his films The Call of the Wild (1972) was shot in Finland; Paper Tiger (1975) in Malaysia.

In 1979, Annakin left Britain and moved to Los Angeles, where he made The Pirate (1978) and Institute for Revenge (1979). He travelled to Europe for The Fifth Musketeer (1979). In Hollywood he made Cheaper to Keep Her (1981) and went to Australia for The Pirate Movie (1982).

Annakin’s last completed film was The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988). The 1992 project Genghis Khan was not completed.

In 2001 he released his autobiography So You Wanna Be A Director? published by Tomahawk Press

Annakin was made one of the few Disney Legends by the Disney Company in 2002. He is only the second film director to be so honored. He was also awarded an OBE the same year for services to the film industry and received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Hull University.

He died at  age 94 on April 22, 2009, the same day as Jack Cardiff, who was his cinematographer on The Fifth Musketeer, in 1979.

His career spanned half a century, beginning in the early 1940s and ending in 2002, during which he made some50 features.

His career peaked in the 1960s with large-scale adventure films.

He directed nearly 50 pictures.


London 1942 (1943)
Make Fruitful the Land (1945)
We of the West Riding (1946)
English Criminal Justice (1946)
It Began on the Clyde (1946)
Fenlands (1946)
Holiday Camp (1947)
Miranda (1948)
Broken Journey (1948)
Quartet (1948)
Here Come the Huggetts (1948)
Vote for Huggett (1949)
The Huggetts Abroad (1949)
Landfall (1949)

Double Confession (1950)
Hotel Sahara (1951)
The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
The Planter’s Wife (1952)
The Sword and the Rose (1953)
You Know What Sailors Are (1954)
The Seekers (1954)
Value for Money (1955)
Loser Takes All (1956)
Three Men in a Boat (1956)
Across the Bridge (1957)
Nor the Moon by Night (1958)
Third Man on the Mountain (1959)

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Very Important Person (1961)
The Hellions (1961)
The Fast Lady (1962)
The Longest Day (1962)
Crooks Anonymous (1962)
The Informers (1963)
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965)
Battle of the Bulge (1965)
The Long Duel (1967)
The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968)
Monte Carlo or Bust! (1969)


The Call of the Wild (1972)
Paper Tiger (1975)
The Pirate (1978)
Institute for Revenge (1979)
The Fifth Musketeer (1979)

Cheaper to Keep Her (1981)
The Pirate Movie (1982)
The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988)
Genghis Khan (1992) (unreleased)