Archive News

Here you can find archive news on past events, news articles andupdates and developments surrounding the legacy of Brian Desmond Hurst's work


Left to right Dr Stephen Wyatt, Allan Esler Smith and Professor Lance Pettitt at Brian's 'local' The Nags Head, Kinnerton Street, Belgravia


Allan Esler Smith announced at the British Film Institute's screening of Hurst's Hungry Hill that The Estate of Brian Desmond Hurst will be seeking to publish Brian Desmond Hurst's memoirs and that he will be working with Professor Lance Pettitt to contextualise the memoir with consultancy support from Dr Stephen Wyatt who originally helped Brian to construct his memoirs in the mid 1970s.

Allan Esler Smith will be introducing Brain Desmond Hurst's 1947 film at the BFI Southbank on the 27th February. For more information please visit here - https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/hungry-hill or read more about Brian's film here - Hungry Hill (1947)

First released at www.arnhem1944fellowship.org on 28 January 2013. Niall Cherry, Allan Esler Smith and Dr Robert Voskuil conduct a guided tour of the locations used within the 1946 film Theirs is the Glory, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst.

Filmed and Edited by Adam Jones-Lloyd




Belfast's Queens Film Theatre held a special screening of Hurst's classic Scrooge on Sunday 2nd December 2012.  The film was introduced by Brian's great niece Marion Smith and the event was one of the concluding events of the Dickens 200th season in Northern Ireland. On 19th December 2012 Scrooge was selected as the Monthly Must-See Cinema at the Irish Film Institute screening in Dublin.

Irish Film Institue Monthly Must-See - Scrooge

Click here to find out more - http://www.ifi.ie/film/monthly-must-see-cinema-scrooge/


Northern Ireland’s growing reputation as a leading global film-making location received a major boost on 10 October 2012 as the First and deputy First Minister officially launched an £8.3m extension to Titanic Studios at Titanic Quarter.   The addition of two new sound stages will establish Titanic Studios as one of the largest and most modern film and television production sets in Europe. The stages have been named in honour of film directors, Brian Desmond Hurst and William MacQuitty.   Speaking at the launch ceremony Allan Esler Smith said “Northern Ireland has always had a depth of creative talent, with some of our most famous exports being actors and film-makers who have travelled the world to make movies. It is a source of great pride that we now have these world-class film and television production sets on our doorstep, and it is a great honour for the families of Brian Desmond Hurst and William MacQuitty to have these new studios named after them.”


Irish Film and Television News coverage


Northern Ireland Screen coverage


BBC coverage here at our Documentaries section

Guests at the official opening of the Hurst and MacQuitty sound stages

Guests at the official opening of the Hurst and MacQuitty sound stages


Left to right: Game of Throne Guard, Rick Hill Chairman of Northern Ireland Screen, Allan Esler Smith, Miranda MacQuitty, Martin McGuinness Deputy First Minister, Peter Robinson First Minister, Marion Smith MBE, David Gavaghan CEO Titanic Quarter, Robert Hurst, Game of Throne Guard
Photo credit -Michael Cooper


Written by Allan Esler Smith and published by RN Sigmond Publishing this 28 page guide was written to accompany the second Arnhem 1944 Fellowship/Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum battlefield walk held on 21st September 2012 over the Arnhem Commemoration weekend. The booklet explains why Brian Desmond Hurst directed this iconic film which was Hurst's favourite film and, according to Hurst, "one of the best war films ever made".  It goes on to explain more about the actors we see in the film (every soldier is a veteran of the battle) and the locations Hurst selected under the expert guidance of the veterans themselves so that the film became, in Hurst's words' "a true documentary reconstruction of the event".  The booklet draws on Hurst's unpublished memoirs and substantial research undertaken over many years.  The walk was led by Niall Cherry, Allan Esler Smith and Robert Voskuil.  Most of the 500 copies of the guide were snapped up over the Arnhem commemoration weekend but a few copies are left and are available in lieu of a donation to club/charity funds from Niall.Cherry@baesystems.com 

Further details of the Fellowship and Friends can be found at

Revisiting Theirs is the Glory Booklet Launch and Battlefield Walk 21st September 2012 photo by Bob Gerritsen
Revisiting Theirs is the Glory cover  

Made 70 years ago Brian Desmond Hurst's film charts the story of two GIs training in Ulster for the war that lay ahead. An exhibition accompanies the screening and a new booklet,  published by Northern Ireland War Memorial,  entitled  Revisiting A Letter From Ulster is also being released. More news coverage and photographs from the opening screening are at the A Letter From Ulster section found under Filmography on this site.

Military author Niall Cherry and Allan Esler Smith will be hosting a battlefield walk around the cauldron of Oosterbeek paying attention to the locations filmed by Brian Desmond Hurst in Theirs is the Glory, the definitive film version of the battle. Anyone interested in attending please email info@briandesmondhurst.org for details.
In Belfast this March/April, Queens Film Theatre pay tribute to the life and films of producer, writer, film-maker and photographer William MacQuitty. The William MacQuitty - A Life to Remember season includes Brian Desmond Hurst's The Black Tent (1956) and A Letter From Ulster (1943). The two men were great friends and these films pay tribute to their lasting legacy. The season also includes the retrospective Revisiting A Letter From Ulster (2011). 


Brian Desmond Hurst's Theirs is the Glory earned some of the highest critical praise ever afforded a British wartime docudrama. This is the film record of one of the most harrowing battles of WWII the Battle of Arnhem. The cast are the actual survivors of the battle and Hurst's experiences on the battlefield of Gallipoli in the First World War undoubtedly helped him get the very best and more out of the veterans replaying their role. Said by actual Airborne survivors to be the most accurate portrayal of the events surrounding Arnhem the film is available again from Strawberry Media/ ITV Studios Home Entertainment.  This link will take you to a very reasonably priced Amazon offering.



In November 2011, there was the 60th Anniversary Diamond release of A Christmas Carol, Brian's seminal classic adaptation of the Dickens novel. Mike Wilmington from Movie City News describes the film as 'one of the most faithful of all Carol adaptations and also one of the least sentimental, one of the most stylishly crafted and one of the more psychologically acute.' (read the full review here).

The DVD also features the documentary, The Human Blarney Stone: The Life and Films of Brian Desmond Hurst narrated by Allan Esler Smith, Brian's great-great nephew and biographer.

A five minute clip of the film can be seen on the documentaries section of the website or by clicking here.


Diamond Anniversary DVD of A Christmas Carol


A 40 minute documentary The Human Blarney Stone on the life and films of Brian Desmond Hurst will be released in the USA in November 2011 to accompany the 60th anniversary of the release of Brian's classic of classics Scrooge/A Christmas Carol (1951).  Further details of the launch will be provided here


Following the back to back screening of Brian's A Letter From Ulster from 21st September to 25th September 2011 at the Aspects Arts Festival in Ireland the newly released 15 minute documentary Revisiting A Letter From Ulster is now exclusively available on this website- see Multimedia Film Clips or Filmography - A Letter From Ulster


Click image to enlarge  

"Aspects" is the premier Irish Literature festival in Northern Ireland.  Based in Bangor, County Down and running from the 21st to 25th September the Festival is uniquely showing Brian Desmond Hurst's A Letter From Ulster back to back for every day throughout the Festival.  In addition Allan Esler Smith opens the Festival on 21st September with a talk about Brian, his films and especially A Letter From Ulster.  The 32 minute film was directed by Brian and, significantly, his assistant Director was former Bangor resident William (Bill) MacQuitty who went on to make the 'ultimate' Titanic film A Night to Remember.  The script is quite good as well- it should be as it was penned by the ultimate James Bond film director Terence Young. 


Perhaps most importantly A Letter From Ulster is an important piece of cultural history and helps us step back in time to 1942/43/44 when there were over one hundred thousand troops from the USA based in Northern Ireland. In addition to watching the Americans preparing for campaigns in North Africa and later Italy and there are some quite brilliant 'local' moments as the 'Yanks' learn to cope with ‘drizzle’ and breaks for a cup of tea. The backdrop is a canvas that that is well known in Ulster and includes Tynan Abbey, St Marys Church in Belfast, Cultra, Carrickfergus and Stabane.

Accompanying the screening of A Letter From Ulster will be a 15 minute documentary Revisiting A Letter From Ulster retracing the journey around Ulster with then and now footage.  The documentary was produced by Allan Esler Smith and edited and directed by Adam Jones-Lloyd.


For further information and to book see www.aspectsfestival.co.uk


On the 6th and 7th August 2011 RTE radio 1's acclaimed "Documentary on One" series broadcast  a 40 minute documentary on Brian Desmond Hurst by Allan Esler Smith and the Sony Gold award winning producer Adam Fowler.  It was also broadcast on CBC Canada.  Brian's unpublished autobiography beginning with the words "I am truly in a predicament - an Irishman chained to the truth".  The documentary is called "An Irishman chained to the truth" and charts Allan's search to understand Hurst's creative and psychological development from an East Belfast blacksmith family, to the cruel slaughter of Brian's regiment on the slopes of Gallipoli in the First World War, to Hollywood and, eventually, Belgravia in London.  The documentary includes some rare recordings of Brian talking about his life.   The broadcast is still available and can be heard at:




A clip usage agreement has recently been completed with the rights holder BFI (on behalf of Crown Film Unit/Ministry of Information) and the first 4 minutes of each film are now included in the multimedia/film clips and filmography sections of this website.


Ulster History Cirlce



Photo credit Patrick Devlin


The extended Hurst and Smith families and their guests assembled to pay tribute to their distinguished relative in Ribble Street in East Belfast where Brian Desmond Hurst had been born at number 23 on the 12th February 1895. The old back-to-back houses had long since disappeared through redevelopment but the building in which he attended school still stands on the other side of the Newtownards Road. The plaque was unveiled by Brian's great nephew Robert Hurst and his great niece Marion Smith.  Among the guests were Lord Empey, Councillor Ian Adamson, High Sheriff of Belfast and Councillor Jim Rodgers, former Lord Mayor of Belfast.


Councillor Ian Adamson, High Sheriff of Belfast's vivid account of the day can be found at:


The Ulster History Circle account and photographs of the day can be found at:



Directors Guild of Great Britain  

Photo credit Allan Esler Smith collection


Prior to unveiling their plaque to Brian Desmond Hurst only three other film directors have been bestowed with this magnificent honour- Michael Powell, Alexander Mackendrick and David Lean.  The event programme is featured below. The testimonials within the programme speak for themselves and it was fitting that the son of one of Brian's great friends who is also one of Ireland's leading film makers should unveil of the plaque, Redmond Morris.



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Left to right:  Simon Campbell-Jones, Chairman of the Directors Guild Trust, Allan Esler Smith great great nephew and biographer to Brian Desmond Hurst, Redmond Morris, Producer (The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Interview with the Vampire and Michael Collins), Jude Sharvin from the Belfast Film Festival and Ivor Benjamin Chairman ot the Directors Guild of Great Britain at the unveiling of the Blue Plaque to Hurst at Queens Film Theatre on Wednesday 13th April 2011.  Photo credit Neil Harrison


Some of the press coverage about Brian from around the time of the plaque unveils is featured below. Please click image to enlarge



Belfast Telegraph article by Matthew McCreary 8th April 2011


Brian desmond Hurst article in Weekend magazine

News letter Weekend Section article by Joanne Savage 25th March 2011

Brian Desmond Hurst is receiving a triple honour in Belfast in April.  Both the Directors Guild of Great Britain and the Ulster History Circle are erecting plaques in Brian's honour.  In addition the Belfast Film Festival are holding a special screening of Brian's Arnhem epic Theirs is the Glory and his homeland film A Letter from Ulster.  All three events are happening in Belfast on 13 April 2011.  The Belfast Film Festival publicity material features below. 

For more information on this and the many events taking place at the 11th Belfast film festival running between 31th March and 14th April visit belfastfilmfestival.org



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MSN.Movies published their top 20 Christmas films in November 2010
Their top 5 films include It's A Wonderful Life (1946) at number 1 and Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Holiday Inn (1942) and at number 5 Brian's Scrooge (1951)

MSN Movies said "There have been plenty of film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, but Brian Desmond Hurst's 1951 version ranks among the best and features a powerhouse performance from Alistair Sim in the title role".


A Clip usage agreement has recently been completed with the rights holder Canal + Image UK for Brian's Behind the Mask (1958) and will feature in an up-date of this site on 31 March 2011.  Interestingly the clip will feature Vanessa Redgrave's first credited screen role and largely unseen for decades.



Click on image to enlarge


The BFI will screen Brian Desmond Hurst's On the Night of the Fire (1939) at the National Film Theatre 3 at the BFI Southbank (SE1 8XT) on Monday 10th January 2011.  The film will be introduced by Allan Esler Smith, Hurst's biographer. 

On the Night of the Fire (1939) is based on FL Green's novel by the same name and is regarded as a British "film noir" classic.  The film charts the moral destruction of a barber (played by Ralph Richardson) who gets involved in a petty theft which then tumbles him downwards into the world of blackmail and murder. The film is also significant as it is the script writing debut of Hurst's protégé and lifelong friend, Terence Young.  Andrew Spicer's review neatly sets the scene “A riveting psychological study. With its sustained doom-laden atmosphere, Krampf’s expressive cinematography, its adroit mixture of location shooting and Gothic compositions and Richardson’s wonderful performance as a lower middle-class Everyman, On the Night of the Fire clearly shows that an achieved mastery of Film Noir existed in British cinema.”


Clip usage agreements have recently been completed with the ultimate rights holder ITV Global for Brian's Malta Story and The Black Tent and will feature in an up-date of this site. together with some further new content, initially scheduled for release on 1 December 2010 but now postponed to 10th December 2010.  


NOW PUBLISHED - Malta Story (1953)- The Director's Cut. The arts journal Treasures of Malta published by Midsea Books are publishing an article on the making of Brian's Malta Story in the summer 2010 edition of their journal available from August 2010.  Further information from www.midseabooks.com



Alibi (1942) is a powerful early Hurst thriller starring James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Hugh Sinclair with Mason trying to break a false alibi but then love gets in the way.  The BFI will screen the film at the National Film Theatre 1 at the BFI Southbank (SE1 8XT) on Tuesday 12th October at 18:30.  The film will be introduced by Allan Smith.  



The Hundred Pound Window (1944) directed by Brian and featuring Lord Richard Attenborough's first credited screen appearance has long been "lost" and has not been screened for many decades. The British Film Institute has located a copy of the film and will screen the film at the National Film Theatre 2 at the BFI Southbank (SE1 8XT) on Friday 21st August 2010. The film will be introduced by a BFI archivist.  BFI SOUTHBANK OFFICE 0207 928 3232.