is the producer/director of more than 100 television dramas in Toronto,
London, and Los Angeles between 1954 and 1967. Almond has produced
and directed dramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
shows as Folio, The Unforeseen,and Wojeck.
Among his many
accomplishments in "live" or "live to tape" television are the early
experimental religious drama The Hill which used simple wooden
platforms, a cyclorama and improvisation; Arthur Hailey's realistic
early drama about the threats of nuclear technology Seeds of
Power; the fascinating, televisual adaptation of Dylan Thomas'
radio piece Under Milk Wood which alternated between stylized
shots of elements of the set with realistic shots of the actors;
Pinter's controversial Birthday Party; A Close Prisoner
the self-reflexive and chilling satire by Clive Exton; and television
versions of Christopher Fry's Sleep of Prisoners, Venus
Observed, and A Phoenix too Frequent, and Jean Anouilh's
Antigone. He also produced and directed a chilling adaptation
of Crime and Punishment called The Murderer; the dark,
anti-war comedy The Neutron and the Olive and his creative
partner, designer Rudy Dorn's drama about World War II from the
point of view of a German soldier, The Broken Sky. Other
successful adaptations included Macbeth with Sean Connery
and Zoe Caldwell, using only a flight of steps and a huge throne,
and Julius Caesar using one 12 foot decorative column. At
the time of these "experimental" productions Dorn and Almond shared
a theory that the "only real thing was the emotion expressed on
the face of a really good actor".
for the most successful series in CBC television history, Wojeck,
including the prescient episode on drug abuse ("All Aboard for Candyland"),
at a time when such subjects were rarely seen on television.
Two of his 1960s
dramas were censored by the CBC: Anouilh's Point of Departure
which showed two unmarried people in bed together and Shadow
of a Pale Horse a vivid anti-war drama which depicted, according
to the broadcaster, a too explicit hanging in one scene. In instances
such as these, when the CBC management threatened to cancel a programme,
(which became easier when tape came into use), the Corporation,
under pressure from its creative staff, sometimes compromised by
scheduling the drama at 11:30 P.M. when it was hoped that everyone
likely to complain was in bed: In the case of Michael Tait's Fellowship
the CBC canceled the show altogether but relented and broadcast
it at a later date. In a rare return to television in 1978 Almond
directed the award-winning docudrama Every Person is Guilty
on the anthology For the Record.
and colleagues said of Paul Almond that he was "the mystic", "the
romantic", "the man with an eye for symbolic levels of meaning",
an "actor's director". Camera-man and well-known television writer
Grahame Woods, author of Twelve and a Half Cents, Vicky: Ann's Story,
and Glory Enough for All, said "he's very responsive and creates
a lot of energy. He had a passion for what he was doing and it's
infectious". The actor and director David Gardner characterised
Almond's work as "moody... The camera moved a great deal. He was
a very volatile director. But once you got to know Paul it was terrific."
himself has said that in some ways he preferred live television
to any other form, because it had not only an excitement but a flow
of action. In his view, live television allowed both the camera-man
and the director more freedom to respond to the performance itself
and literally "call the shots" in unforeseen patterns and rhythms.
Early television did not require three people to run a camera. Almond
was one of the most influential of the generation of producer/directors
in the 1950s and 1960s who were discovering what could be done with
the huge, clumsy and unreliable cameras of live television. He and
his co-conspirators took "live-to-tape" drama, which was supposed
to be taped with minimum interruption because it was very difficult
to edit into territory which demanded many pauses for change of
scene, costume, special effect etc. From those early experiments
and the eventual discovery of cleaner easier ways to edit tape came
true electronic drama.
CBC experience of filmed TV drama, Almond adapted to film so well
that his first full-length feature film Isabel in 1968 (shown on
the CBC in 1969) was a critical success and was followed by Act
of the Heart, Journey, Final Assignment, Ups
and Downs and Captive Hearts. He is still producing and
directing feature films.
Born in Montréal, Québec, Canada, 1931. Attended Bishop's College
School, Lennoxville, Québec; McGill University B.A., Montréal; Balliol
College M.A., Oxford; president of the poetry society and editor
of a literary magazine. Married Geneviève Bujold, 1967. Director
for a Shakespearean repertory company, U.K.; returned to join the
CBC in Toronto, 1954; directed and/or produced various drama, action,
comedy and horror series and specials for TV until 1967; independent
producer since 1967. Awards: Bronze Prize, Houston Film Festival,
Ups and Downs, 1981.
Folio (until 1967)
1958-60 The Unforeseen
1959-67 Festival (until 1967)
1960-61 First Person (producer)
1963-66 The Forest Rangers
1966 Wojeck (director)
TELEVISION MOVIES (selection)
The Queen of Spades (producer)
1957 Who Destroyed the Earth
1963 The Rose Tattoo (producer) for Granada TV
1967 La Roulotte aux Poupées (director)
1979 Every Person is Guilty
1968; The Act of the Heart, 1969; Journey, 1971; Final
Assignment, 1979; Ups and Downs, 1981; Kiss Me Better,
1981; Eye of the Falcon, 1985; Captive Hearts, 1987;
The Dance Goes On, 1991; Freedom Had a Price, 1994
Andre G. "On Location: Paul Almond's Fate of a Hunter." Cinema
Canada (Montreal), February 1987.
Almond Misses Prep Bandwagon." Calgary (Canada), Herald,
11 December 1983.
Bronwyn. Living the Part: John Drainie and the Dilemma of Canadian
Stardom. Toronto: Macmillan, 1988.
Paul. When Television Was Young: Prime Time Canada 1952-1967.
Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York: University of Toronto Press,
Programming in English; Wojeck