David Lean: A Biography [NOOK Book]


The life and its biographer provide a landmark work on the cinema. Emerging from a childhood of nearly Dickensian darkness, David Lean found his great success as a director of the appropriately titled Great Expectations.

There followed his legendary black-and-white films of the 1940s and his four-film movie collaboration with Noel Coward. Lean's 1955 film Summertime took him from England to the world of international moviemaking and the ...
See more details below
David Lean: A Biography

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


The life and its biographer provide a landmark work on the cinema. Emerging from a childhood of nearly Dickensian darkness, David Lean found his great success as a director of the appropriately titled Great Expectations.

There followed his legendary black-and-white films of the 1940s and his four-film movie collaboration with Noel Coward. Lean's 1955 film Summertime took him from England to the world of international moviemaking and the stunning series of spectacular color epics that would gain for his work twenty-seven Academy Awards and fifty-six Academy Award nominations. All are classics, including The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and A Passage to India.

Kevin Brownlow, a film editor in his own right and author of the seminal silent film trilogy initiated with The Parade's Gone By. . ., brings to Lean's biography an exhaustive knowledge of the art and the industry.

One learns about the making of movies as realized by a master, but also of the highly personal costs of genius. The troubled Quaker family from which Lean came influenced his relationship with his son, his brother, and his six wives. Yet he showed in his work a deep understanding of humanity.

The vastness of this scholarly and entertaining enterprise is augmented by sixteen pages of scenes from Lean's color films, thirty-two pages from his black-and-white movies, and throughout the text a vast number of photographs from his life and location work.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Gavin Lambert
Reading the book is an act of total emersion: you emerge saturated with all you could possibly want to know about the director's personal and professional life.
Los Angeles Times
Sir David Puttnam
An enthralling and panoramic view of the director's life.
The Independent
Stanley Kauffman
This volume about Lean suggests immediately a latter day film by Lean: it is large, long, and beautifully produced.
The New Republic
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466832374
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/1996
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 800
  • Sales rank: 1,230,356
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Kevin Brownlow, who lives in London, is a historian of silent films, which he began collecting at the age of eleven.  He has written about them in The Parade's Gone By...; The War, the West, and the Wilderness; Behind the Mask of Innocence; Hollywood: The Pioneers; and Napolean: Abel Gance's Classic Film, which recounted his acclaimed reconstruction of that famous masterpiece.  As a filmmaker, he has made two features with Andrew Mollo--It Happened Here and Winstanley--and several television documentaries with David Gill, including the thirteen-part series Hollywood, first shown in 1980, and more recently Unknown Chaplin, Buster KEaton: A Hard Art to Follow, and Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2003

    Definite Work on Lean A Masterwork of Biography

    Kevin Brownlow's 'David Lean: A Biography' is a landmark in the field of cinema studies. In this work, the premier cinema historian in the English language meets arguably the greatest English director, and the result is a masterpiece of the genre worthy of the maker of such film masterpieces as 'Brief Encounter,' 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' and 'Lawrence of Arabia.' Brownlow's understanding of the technical aspects of film-making does great justice to Lean's career, who himself made his reputation in the industry as an editor, gaining renown as the premier 'cutter' of his time. In my estimation, Lean was arguably the premier 'technician-style' director, a master of cinematic form rivalled only by Stanley Kubrick. My pantheon of directors includes more 'personal' directors, Bergman, Fellini and Tarkovsky, yet I respect the accomplishments of Lean; when I saw 'Brief Encounter' on the big screen, the climax of the film literally stunned me. The remarkable construction of 'Brief Encounter' perhaps could only have been created by a director possessing technical genius bred in the cutting room, and it is a great credit to Brownlow that he makes us fully understand the genesis of Lean's particular genius for film. While in these 800-pages, Brownlow does not slight the more conventional aspects of movies, e.g, personalities, finance, criticism, etc., it is his commanding knowledge of film as a craft that gives us great insight into Lean. This book should be required reading for film students for the insight it gives into the craft of constructing a motion picture. Finally, 'David Lean: A Biography' is also an insightful story about an unusual man with a marvellously contradictory character who would make a great protagonist in a work of fiction. Lean was, in turns, a sensualist with a Quaker background who had six wives, marrying many of them when most men, it was said, would be divorcing them; a director who commanded huge crews who essentially was a lonely and uncommunicative man; a man of extraordinary generosity who would deny a fellow professional a minor credit; an artist of international reputation who could be wounded mortally by a bad review by an insignificant critic, whose career was derailed by the storm of negative criticism over 'Ryan's Daughter.' Brownlow's portrait of the essentially unintellectual Lean, an insecure man tormented by a rivalry with his younger brilliant brother, himself a brilliant technician working in a medium with great artistic pretensions who was uncertain of his worth and reputation, should not be missed by any person who loves film. Lean's eclipse after the critical debacle of 'Ryan's Daughter,' his years in the woods in which he tried in vain to bring new projects to fruition that later were realized by other, lesser directors, his ultimate return to glory and respectability with 'A Passage to India,' and his final years as the respected yet still tormented man searching for the backing for his last project, 'Nostromo,' kick this book out of its genre into the ranks of the best biographies in which the life of which we read informs us not just about the human condition, but about ourselves

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)