Since starting his film collection at the age of 11, Kevin Brownlow has worked in the cinema, as both a filmmaker and as a historian. He entered documentaries in 1955 and became an editor in 1958. In the 1960s, he worked with Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson. With Andrew Mollo, he directed two feature films: IT HAPPENED HERE (1964) and Winstanley (1975).
In 1980, Brownlow produced and directed a 13-part television series with David Gill, Hollywood. Thames Television then sponsored the showing of Brownlow’s reconstruction of Napoleon as part of the 1980 London Film Festival. For Thames Silents, Brownlow and Gill restored over 25 silent films including Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924). In 1990, Brownlow and Gill formed Photoplay Productions with Patrick Stanbury. In 1992, Channel Four Television sponsored a series of silent film revivals including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (1927) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
Brownlow and Gill also produced and directed a number of film history documentaries such as Unknown Chaplin (1983); Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1990); “D.W. Griffith – Father Of Film,” broadcast in the US and the UK; and Cinema Europe – The Other Hollywood (1995), for BBC2, also screened in France, Germany and the U.S. Photoplay’s most recent documentaries include Universal Horror (1998), Lon Chaney – A Thousand Faces (2000), Cecil B Demille – American Epic (2003) and Garbo (2005).
In 2010, Brownlow was awarded a honorary Oscar for his life achievement.
Brownlow’s books include How it Happened Here (1968; reprinted 2005); The Parade’s Gone By… (1968); Hollywood: The Pioneers (1979); Napoléon – Abel Gance’s Classic Film (1983; reprinted 2004); David Lean – a Biography (1996); The Search for Charlie Chaplin (2005).