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Pat Jackson made an important contribution to the development of the story documentary in Britain in the late 1930s and 1940s. He had assisted Harry Watt on pioneering films such as The Saving of Bill Blewitt (1937) and North Sea (1938), which departed from the Griersonian tradition through the use of dramatically scripted scenes played by nonprofessional actors, before making his own significant mark with the seminal feature-length documentary Western Approaches in 1944. Jackson joined the GPO Film Unit on his seven-

teenth birthday, gaining entry through his mother’s distant friendship with the postmaster general. Starting as a lowly messenger boy, he rapidly progressed to stills work and then into the cutting rooms where he assisted Basil Wright on the celebrated Song of Ceylon (1934). He first accompanied a shoot during the making of Night Mail (1936), once again assisted in the cutting and read the prose part of the commentary. Working with Harry Watt on this classic documentary was a major influence on Jackson. In 1937, Watt introduced the story documentary with The Saving of Bill Blewitt, adopting a characteristically novel approach to the mundane subject of Post Office savings. Jackson again worked closely with him as assistant, and gained further experience in the dra-

matic approach to documentary as part of Watt’s team on North Sea, an account of ship to shore radio. As Jackson later recalled, ‘‘Harry Watt was writing a history of England by the careful use of the non-actor.’’ Jackson’s directorial debut was The Horsey Mail

(1937), a one-reel information film about the postal service in a small Suffolk village, although previously he had made a substantial directorial contribution to Watt’s earlier Big Money (1937), which went unaccredited. Of more significance was Men in Danger (1939) and in retrospect he remained particularly proud of the final sequence where the apprentice miners, who started work as young as age 14, were trained in the dangers of their craft. In the early war years, Jackson collaborated on numerous productions as part of the team effort at the GPO/Crown Film Unit, doing some shooting on London Can Take It (1940) and co-directing The First Days (1939) alongside Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt. His own films were the shorts Health in War (1940), The Builders (1942), and Ferry Pilot (1941), a medium-length documentary about the transport of U.S. planes to Britain. The uninspiring prospect of a film on the building industry actually confirmed Jackson’s belief in the dramatic approach as he discovered a genuine

‘‘vitality’’ in the workmen that no actor could master. In particular, a bricklayer, Charlie Fielding, and his ability to effortlessly lay bricks while conversing to camera impressed him. Jackson later commented on the scene and revealed his approach:

Jackson’s greatest achievement occupied him throughout much of the later war period, andWestern Approaches (1944) remains one of the finest of the wartime documentaries. The film, made on location under incredibly demanding conditions, was unusually shot in Technicolor and used a cast of real sailors who had experienced the hardships depicted on screen. As a result, Jackson realised some remarkable performances and imagery, and left a vital document of the wartime merchant service. After a frustrating few years at MGM in Holly-

wood, which resulted in only a minor thriller, Shadow on the Wall (1949), Jackson returned to Britain and a modest career in commercial cinema and television. He maintained a documentary approach to his drama and encouraged a naturalistic style in performance, continuing to cast nonprofessionals for some minor roles. This was most evident in White Corridors (1951), adapted from a best-selling novel about a young female doctor in a provincial hospital and for which Googie Withers drew strong critical praise. Jackson had a less rewarding time on Virgin Island (1958), where his demand for spontaneity and naturalism in performance conflicted with method actor John Cassavetes’s desire for exhaustive rehearsal. Through the 1960s Jackson directed some minor sponsored documentaries, but is better appreciated for his work in TV with

Patrick McGoohan, on the cult TV action series Dangerman and The Prisoner. Pat Jackson will be remembered for his tremen-

dous efforts and skill in bringing the wartime feature-documentary Western Approaches to the screen. Despite often unsympathetic circumstances he retained a faith in the naturalistic performance and the marriage of documentary and drama. Although not participating himself, he was a significant influence on the celebrated renaissance in drama-documentary that formed in British television in the 1960s and 1970s.