Paul Dehn
Paul Dehn

(1912-11-05)5 November 1912
Died30 September 1976(1976-09-30) (aged 63)
Years active1950–1974

Paul Edward Dehn (pronounced "Dain"; 5 November 1912 – 30 September 1976) was a British screenwriter, best known for Goldfinger, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Planet of the Apes sequels and Murder on the Orient Express. Dehn and his partner, James Bernard, won the Academy Award for Best Story for Seven Days to Noon.

Biography and work

Dehn was born in 1912 in Manchester, England. He was educated at Shrewsbury School, and attended Brasenose College, Oxford.[1] While at Oxford, he contributed film reviews to weekly undergraduate papers. According to the British writer and former spy John le Carré, Dehn worked in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as an assassin during World War II.[2]

He began his career in 1936 as a film reviewer for several London newspapers. He was film critic for the News Chronicle until its closure in 1960 and then for the Daily Herald until 1963.[3]

During World War II, he was stationed at Camp X in Ontario, Canada. This was one of several training facilities operated by the British Special Operations Executive to train spies and special forces teams. He was the Political Warfare officer from 1942 to 1944 and held the rank of Major. Dehn took part in missions in France and Norway.[4]

He narrated the 1951 film Waters of Time and later wrote plays, operettas and musicals for the stage. He wrote the lyrics for songs in two films, Moulin Rouge (1952) and The Innocents (1961).

In 1949 or 1950, Dehn began a collaboration with composer James Bernard. Dehn asked Bernard to collaborate with him on the original story for the Boulting Brothers film Seven Days to Noon (1950).

Through the 1960s, Dehn concentrated on screenwriting for espionage films, including Goldfinger (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), and The Deadly Affair (1967). He later wrote the screenplays for the second, third, and fourth original Planet of the Apes movies and received the story-by credit on the fifth. He wrote the libretto for William Walton's opera The Bear and two by Lennox Berkeley; A Dinner Engagement and Castaway.

His last screenplay was for Sidney Lumet's all-star Murder on the Orient Express (1974), based on the Agatha Christie whodunit, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Dehn resurrected or reinvented at least three genres given up for dead at the time; the British mystery, the Shakespeare adaptation, and the spy film.[5]


Awards and nominations


  1. ^ Clifford Dyment, Roy Fuller and Montagu Slater (editors), New Poems 1952 (1952), p. 161.
  2. ^ John le Carré on "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)", retrieved 25 October 2022
  3. ^ advert placed by the Daily Herald in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, 31 October 1960
  4. ^ Harrison, David (17 April 2010). "The secret war mission that inspired Goldfinger scene".
  5. ^ Kipen, David (2013). "Tinker Tailor Soldier Schreiber: The Unsung Achievement of Screenwriter Paul Dehn". Virginia Quarterly Review. 89 (1): 224–231. JSTOR 26446667.
  6. ^ "WRITING (MOTION PICTURE STORY)". THE 24TH ACADEMY AWARDS – 1952. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 20 March 1952. Retrieved 21 October 2014.