Jimmy Sangster
Discussing his script for Intent to Kill (1958)
James Henry Kinmel Sangster[1]

(1927-12-02)2 December 1927
Died19 August 2011(2011-08-19) (aged 83)
London, England
EducationEwell Castle School[2][3]
Years active1955–2000
  • Monica Hustler
    (m. 1950; div. 1968)
  • Sandra Lee Nadeau
    (m. 1972, divorced)
  • (m. 1995)

James Henry Kinmel Sangster (2 December 1927 – 19 August 2011) was a British screenwriter and director, most famous for his work on the initial horror films made by the British company Hammer Films, including The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958).[2]

Early life

The son of an estate agent, Sangster was born in Kimmel Bay, North Wales and was educated at Ewell Castle School in Surrey, and Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff.[4] He began his film career, aged 16, as a clapper-boy.[2]

After service with the RAF, he worked as a third assistant director on Ealing Studios productions, then joined Exclusive Studios (later Hammer Films) in 1949.


Sangster originally worked as a production assistant at Hammer Films, as well as being an assistant director, second unit director and production manager. After Hammer's success with The Quatermass Xperiment, he was approached to write X the Unknown, to which he replied "I'm not a writer. I'm a production manager." According to him, Hammer Films' response was: "Well, you come up with a couple of ideas and if we like it, we'll pay you. If we don't like it, we won't pay you. You're being paid as a production manager, so you can't complain."[5] Sangster later turned to direction with The Horror of Frankenstein and Lust for a Vampire (both 1970) for the studio, but with far less success. His third (and last) film as director was Fear in the Night (1972), which resurrected the psychological woman-in-peril thriller he had begun with his script for Taste of Fear (1961). All three of the films he directed featured actor Ralph Bates, a friend of Sangster's and one of Hammer's better-known performers for the company during the 1970s.

Sangster scripted and produced two films for Bette Davis, The Nanny (1965) and The Anniversary (1968). His other scriptwriting credits included The Siege of Sidney Street (1960), which starred Donald Sinden and in which Sangster appeared as Winston Churchill. His many television screenwriting credits include Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Movin' On, The Magician, B. J. and the Bear, Most Wanted, Ironside, McCloud, The Six Million Dollar Man and Wonder Woman.

He is also the author of the novels Touchfeather, Touchfeather, Too, Foreign Exchange, Private I (aka The Spy Killer) Snowball, Hardball, and Blackball, all of which have been republished by Brash Books. His other books include the novel Your Friendly Neighborhood Death Peddler, the non-fiction memoir Do You Want it Good or Tuesday? and the 2003 screenwriting manual, Screenwriting: Techniques for Success.[6] In 2019, Brash Books announced the discovery of an unpublished Sangster novel, Fireball, which they will be releasing in 2020.[7]

Personal life

Sangster died at his home in Kensington, London on 19 August 2011.[4] He was survived by his third wife, the actress Mary Peach; a son from an earlier marriage, Mark James Sangster;[2] and two grandchildren, Claire and Ian Sangster.


As a director
Year Title Notes
1970 The Horror of Frankenstein Also producer and co-writer
1971 Lust for a Vampire
1972 Fear in the Night Also producer and writer
As a screenwriter
Year Title Notes
1955 A Man on the Beach
1956 X the Unknown
1957 The Curse of Frankenstein
1958 Dracula
1958 The Revenge of Frankenstein
1958 Intent to Kill
1958 The Snorkel
1958 Blood of the Vampire
1958 The Crawling Eye
1959 Jack the Ripper
1959 The Man Who Could Cheat Death
1959 The Mummy
1960 The Brides of Dracula
1960 The Siege of Sidney Street
1961 The Hellfire Club
1961 The Terror of the Tongs
1961 Scream of Fear
1962 The Pirates of Blood River
1962 Paranoiac
1963 Maniac
1964 Nightmare
1964 The Devil-Ship Pirates
1964 Traitor's Gate
1965 Hysteria
1965 The Nanny
1966 Dracula: Prince of Darkness As John Sansom
1967 Deadlier Than the Male
1968 The Anniversary
1969 The Spy Killer Television film
1970 Foreign Exchange Television film
1970 Crescendo
1970 The Horror of Frankenstein Co-writer; also director and producer
1971 A Taste of Evil Television film
1972 Fear in the Night Also director and producer
1972 Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy Television film
1973 Maneater Television film
1977 Good Against Evil Television film
1978 The Legacy
1979 The Country Western Murders Television film
1979 The Billion Dollar Threat Television film
1979 Ebony, Ivory and Jade Television film
1980 Phobia
1980 Once Upon a Spy Television film
1981 No Place to Hide Television film
1981 The Devil and Max Devlin
1984 The Toughest Man in the World Television film
1985 North Beach and Rawhide Television film


  1. ^ a b Newman, Kim Obituary: Jimmy Sangster, The Guardian, 21 August 2011
  2. ^ a b c d "Jimmy Sangster". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 September 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ Newman, Kim (21 August 2011). "Jimmy Sangster obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Sangster, James Henry Kinmel [Jimmy] (1927–2011)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/104073. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Svehla, A. Susan (Director) (28 July 2009). Fanex Files: Hammer Films (DVD). Alpha Video. Event occurs at 12:20.
  6. ^ Sangster, Jimmy (4 May 2019). Screenwriting: Techniques for Success. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 9781903111543 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Fireball Review". Publishers Weekly.