David Lean (March 25, 1908 - April 16, 1991) was a British film director, best remembered for big-screen epics such as Lawrence of Arabia.
He was born in Croydon, Surrey, and started at the bottom, as a clapperboard assistant. By 1930 he was working as an editor on newsreels, including Gaumont Pictures and Movietone. His career in mainstream films began with Escape Me Never (1936), and his first work as a director was in partnership with Noel Coward on In Which We Serve (1942). He came into his own with Brief Encounter (1945), and directed several films based on classic novels, such as Great Expectations (1946). The Sound Barrier (1952) is a display of British stiff upper lip, while Hobson's Choice (1954), which Lean also produced, is a stylish comic update of King Lear set in Victorian Manchester.
With the advent of colour, Lean became well-known as the director of blockbusters such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won an Academy Award, followed by another for "Lawrence of Arabia." Doctor Zhivago (1965) was another major hit, but after the moderately successful Ryan's Daughter in 1970, he did not direct another film until A Passage to India (1984), which would be his last. He was in the midst of planning an epic production of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo when he died from unknown causes in 1991 (Nostromo would eventually be made as a public television miniseries).