Biography

Michael McCarthy was something of a jack-of-all-trades during his brief career in the British film industry, serving as a second-unit director, writer, actor, and director at various times. Born in Birmingham, England, in 1917, his earliest screen credit was as an assistant director on the wartime documentary Greek Testament (1942). He served in a similar capacity in the Will Hay comedy My Learned Friend (co-directed by Hay and Basil Dearden) and Charles Frend's action drama San Demetrio, London (both 1943). In 1944, he was an assistant director (credited as Mickie McCarthy) on Dearden's fantasy-drama The Halfway House, and that same year worked on Fiddlers Three, a fantasy comedy. McCarthy received his first screenwriting credit as co-author of Painted Boats (1945), directed by Charles Crichton. He was also the production manager on Johnny Frenchman (1945). McCarthy continued to write for the screen during the early '50s, specializing mostly in crime thrillers, and moved into the director's chair in 1951 with Mystery Junction. As a writer, he contributed scripts and stories to the Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Presents anthology series, and directed for that program and The Scarlet Pimpernel. He also turned up as an actor, mostly in small, uncredited parts, in a handful of 1950s movies, most notably Henry Koster's No Highway in the Sky (1951). By the end of the decade, McCarthy had moved up to higher quality and bigger-budgeted thrillers, including The Traitor (1957) and Operation Amsterdam (1959), both of which had fairly complex and ambitious World War II-related storylines, and used scripts that McCarthy had either written or co-written. The latter film, in particular -- co-starring Peter Finch, Eva Bartok, and Alexander Knox -- received a substantial international release. Alas, McCarthy died in the year of its release, cutting short a still-promising career behind the camera at age 42. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi