1920 – 2005
Who was Wolf Rilla?
He worked on both versions of Village of the Damned, in the first as director and in the second as a writer. He wrote many influential books for students: The Writer and the Screen: On Writing for Film and Television and The A to Z of Movie Making.
Rilla was born in Berlin, where his part-Jewish father Walter Rilla was a prominent actor. In common with many others in entertainment and the arts, Walter recognised the dangers when Hitler came to power, and the family moved to London in 1934 when Wolf was 14. He completed his schooling at the enlightened co-educational Frensham Heights school, Surrey, and went on to St Catharine's College, Cambridge. In 1942 he joined the BBC World Service's German section, transferring to television in the late 1940s.
He left the BBC staff in 1952 to pursue his ambition to make films, but continued to take on television productions as a freelance. In the cinema he was dependent at first on Group 3, an idealistic production company set up by the National Film Finance Corporation with Michael Balcon, John Baxter and John Grierson in charge. The idea was to give young talent a chance to make low-budget quickies, unfortunately - as it turned out - to no great acclaim. But by 1960 Rilla was working regularly for MGM in Britain. He directed his father, along with George Sanders and Richard Johnson, in Cairo, a remake of John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, with Tutankhamun's jewels in a Cairo museum now the target of the robbers.