Film Industry Role: Script Supervisor
Major Works: The African Queen (John Huston, 1951), Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998), Tea with Mussolini (Franco Zeffirelli, 1999)
Major Awards and Nominations: Winner of the BAFTA’s Michael Balcon Award (2005)
Angela Allen was born in Maida Vale, London and after leaving school went to work for a theatrical agency. She originally wanted to work in the make up department but in those days a requirement of the job was that you had to draw and she says she was no good at that. She had heard of continuity and since she had learn shorthand typing, a requirement for the job, she thought on doing it and started knocking on doors.
Her first job was at Isleworth Studios in “Night Beat” (Harold Huth, 1947) as assistant continuity girl when she was only 18. This was followed by “Mine own Executioner” (1947) and “Bonnie Prince Charlie” (1948), both directed by Anthony Kimmins. Starting “Bonnie Prince Charlie” as assistant but finishing it as continuity girl, since the previous girl left to get married.
After that, Allen worked uncredited on the second unit of “The Third Man” (1949), working on the sewer unit. This is where she met Carol Reed, which she says was one of the best directors she ever worked for and her greatest teacher.
The first feature she worked on alone was “Old Mother Riley, Headmistress” (John Harlow, 1950), starring Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane.
Then the producer Sam Spiegel chose her for the job of continuity on “The African Queen” (John Huston, 1951) because she was the youngest continuity girl in the business at the time and would be able to cope with working in Africa. When Katherine Hepburn argued about what she was wearing, Allen told her she would have to change and she said ‘No, I don’t.’ Huston said, ‘That’s Angies job, we will go with what she says.’ Fortunately she was right and that’s when her great career started. She worked with John Huston on other thirteen occasions, in films like “Moulin Rouge” (1953), “Moby Dick” (1956), “The Misfits” (1961) and “Wise Blood” (1979).
For services to the Film Industry, Allen became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1996 and received the BAFTA’s Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in 2005.
Allen also helped to change the description/status of her crucial job in the UK, from “Continuity” (“Girl” was almost an understood) to “Script Supervisor” and to upgrade the tax category associated.
Her latest works were with Stephen Hopkins, in “Lost in Space” (1998); with John Frankenheimer, in “Ronin” (1998) and “Reindeer Games” (2000); and with Franco Zeffirelli, in “Tea with Mussolini” (1999) and “Callas Forever” (2002).