Seth Holt

Holt on the set of directorial debut Nowhere to Go (1958)

Seth Holt (1923, Palestine 14 February 1971, London) was a British film director, producer and editor.[1] His films are characterized by their tense atmosphere and suspense, as well as their striking visual style. In the 1960s, Movie magazine championed Holt as one of the finest talents working in the British film industry, although his output was notably sparse.[2]

Holt was educated at Blackheath School in London.[3] He trained originally as an actor, and spent a term at RADA in 1940 before acting in repertory in Liverpool and Devon. In 1942 he joined a documentary film company as assistant editor, and his career in films began. He worked at Ealing Studios from 1943, but received his first credit as editor on The Spider and the Fly, made for Mayflower Pictures by Robert Hamer, at that time Holt's brother-in-law. Promoted to editor at Ealing, he cut six films for the studio, including The Lavender Hill Mob, Mandy and The Titfield Thunderbolt. Between 1955 and 1957 he was associate producer on three, of which the best-known is The Ladykillers.

Holt graduated to direction with Ealing's penultimate production, Nowhere to Go, which he intended as 'the least Ealing film ever made'.[4] After Ealing, Holt worked for a period as an 'editing doctor', and was reportedly responsible for saving Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960; his last editing credit) and The Entertainer (1960).[5]

British film critic Dilys Powell described Holt's 1962 film Station Six-Sahara as “true cinema”.[6]

His best-known films as a director are those he made at Hammer: the psychological thrillers Taste of Fear (1961) and The Nanny (1965), with Bette Davis, and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971), which was completed by Michael Carreras after Holt's death from heart failure. His death is believed to have been alcohol related. TCM's Ben Mankiewicz says it received better reviews than Hammer's other Mummy movies, which suffered from "The curse of the Mummy Movie," and he gave credit to Holt for the improvement. "He took the wrappings off." [7][8]

In 1968, Holt served as executive producer on Adrian Walker's documentary Barbed Water, about the whalers of Faial in the Azores.[9]

Holt was initially to direct Crusaders, the film that became if...., but his health was in such crisis that he passed the project to Lindsay Anderson, who extensively reworked the script with David Sherwin.[10]

Bette Davis once called Holt "the most ruthless director I've ever worked with outside of William Wyler".[11]

Selected filmography


  1. "Seth Holt". BFI.
  2. "BFI Screenonline: Holt, Seth (1924-1971) Biography".
  3. British Crime Film.
  4. "THE END". Barr, Charles (1977, 1993) Ealing Studios University of California Press p.178.
  5. "BFI - Sight & Sound - Lost and found: Station Six Sahara".
  6. "BFI - Sight & Sound - Lost and found: Station Six Sahara".
  7. "Overview for Seth Holt". Turner Classic Movies.
  8. "BFI - Sight & Sound - Lost and found: Station Six Sahara".
  9. "Barbed Water (Adrian Walker 1968)".
  10. "Seth Holt".
  11. "BFI Screenonline: Holt, Seth (1924-1971) Biography".

External links

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