Arthur Bennett

(Redirected from Arthur L. Bennett)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arthur Bennett (b. East London, 15/07/1904 – d. Johannesburg, **/**/1958) was a film director. Also credited as Arthur L. Bennett.


Arthur Leslie Bennett was the son of Henry (Harry) Bennett who married his wife, Susanna (Susan) Smalberger in Riversdale and then moved to East London, where he established himself as a draper. In 1920 Arthur was sent to school in England, where his older brother was at college and his sister would be studying music. In December 1922 he returned to South Africa. Then we lose track of him, though in June 1936 an Arthur L. Bennett of the right age travels to England (he seems to have been a farmer).

Whatever his profession was up to then, everything changed when his sister, Eileen, married Captain C. Francis Coley who had been in the British colonial service, but who in 1927 had become involved in the film industry. When he came to South Africa in 1932, he first worked for African Film Productions, but in 1938 he set up his own company, Union Film Productions, in Bezuidenhout Valley. Arthur and Eileen joined him in becoming directors of the company. Initially the idea was that they would process Movietone programmes locally instead of relying on the importation of positive prints ready for screening on the Twentieth Century-Fox circuit, but in 1941 they established Unifilms News, a newsreel that would compete with African Mirror.

During the early years of World War II they had their own cameraman in North Africa who filmed events like The Fall of Addis Ababa (1941) and they were soon making short propaganda documentaries for the war effort. While Coley concentrated primarily on setting up productions, Bennett became the in-house director and though credits are difficult to come by, he was probably responsible for most of these films. Certainly the prestigious Heritage (1942), as well as Ubique (1941) and Planning for Peace (1945) were made by him. In 1946 the company turned to features, with Bennett and Louis Knobel directing Die Wildsboudjie (1946) and Bennett going solo on Die Skerpioen (1946). For Sarie Marais (1949) he was co-photographer with Sven Persson, as well as editor and technical director, with Coley functioning as director. Curiously, after that he disappears from the local film scene and we were unable to find out what became of him, except that he died in Johannesburg in 1958. In 1938 he married Audrey Trevelyan Jackson (1910-2004).


Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm (1982)

Van Nierop, Leon - Daar doer in die fliek (2016)

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities B

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page