Belfast Film Director – one the greatest UK war film directors?

Hans Hurst was born and brought up in the roads just off the Newtownards Rd in East Belfast- the homeland of the Belfast shipyard workers. He lost his father and mother when he was young and then lived with his older brother, my great grandfather.

Bored as a linen worker in Belfast he joined the Royal Irish Rifles as a private in the first week of the First World War and so his life began to change.  He also changed his name to Brian Desmond Hurst. It started with the cruel slaughter of his battalion at Gallipoli in 1915. War was the catalyst for a change of luck. He studied art in Canada, Paris and New York and a lucky break in Hollywood saw him moving from in front of the camera to behind the camera and being mentored by the legendary film director, John Ford. He and Ford remained lifelong friends. Returning to the UK Hurst directed over 30 films over four decades over three continents. He is more recognised for his classics Scrooge (starring Alistair Sim) and Tom Browns Schooldays.  His ten war and conflict films stand out to me and our book was constructed building on years of research. Each of the ten films are profiled below in this post with links to many rare clips and the documentaries I’ve made over the last decade.

It helps show that Hurst is arguably one of the greatest UK war film directors. Two films of special interest in Belfast would be A Letter From Ulster from 1942 about the American troops training in Northern Ireland  There is also a rare clip from Ourselves Alone made by Hurst in 1936 which was banned in Belfast.

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