Alec Coppel

Alec Coppel (17 September 1907 – 22 January 1972) was an Australian-born screenwriter, novelist and playwright. He spent the majority of his career in London and Hollywood, specialising in light thrillers, mysteries and sex comedies. He is best known for the films Vertigo (1958), The Captain's Paradise (1953), Mr Denning Drives North (1951) and Obsession (1949), and the plays I Killed the Count and The Gazebo.


Coppel was born in Melbourne and attended Wesley College. He moved to England in the 1920s to study medicine at Cambridge University, but dropped out before graduating and went to work in advertising, writing in his spare time. Coppel's first big success was his play I Killed the Count, which saw him receive screenwriting offers.[1][2]

He returned to Australia during the early days of World War II, where he co-founded and worked as a director for Whitehall Productions, operating out of the Minvera Theatre in Kings Cross.[3] He also wrote for radio and contributed to the script of Smithy (1946), one of the few feature films made in Australia during this time.

Coppel moved back to London towards the end of the war, and continued to alternate between novels, plays and screenplays. He became the first Australian to receive an Academy Award nomination for screenwriting with The Captain's Paradise, which was nominated for Best Story in 1953. Many of his British screenplays featured American characters in sympathetic roles (e.g. Obsession, Mr Denning Drives North, Hell Below Zero).

Coppel moved to Los Angeles in 1954, where he wrote a number of scripts, including an early draft of Vertigo (1958), and a popular play, The Gazebo. He spent the 1960s mostly working in Europe and London. His last two credits were a pair of sex comedies co-written with Denis Norden, The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom and The Statue. Coppel died of liver cancer on 22 January 1972, in London.[4]

Partial filmography

Year Title Notes
1937 Over the Moon Co-screenplay
1939 I Killed the Count Screenplay, based on his play
1939 Just Like a Woman Co-screenplay
1946 Smithy Co-screenplay
1948 Brass Monkey Screenplay
1948 Woman Hater Based on short story
1949 Obsession Screenplay, dialogue director, based on original story
1950 Two on the Tiles Screenplay
1951 The Smart Aleck Screenplay, based on his play Mr Smart Guy
1951 No Highway in the Sky Co-screenplay
1951 Mr. Denning Drives North Screenplay, based on his novel
1953 The Captain's Paradise Co-screenplay
1954 Hell Below Zero Co-screenplay
1954 The Black Knight Co-screenplay
1954 To Catch a Thief Uncredited contribution to script
1957 Appointment with a Shadow Screenplay
1958 Vertigo Co-screenplay
1959 The Gazebo Based on his play
1962 Swordsman of Siena Co-screenplay
1966 Moment to Moment Co-screenplay
1968 The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom Co-screenplay, based on his play A Bird in the Nest
1971 The Statue Co-screenplay, based on his play

Unfilmed screenplays


TV Plays


Radio plays

Unmade Projects


  1. "HE KILLED THE COUNT!—and became a Famous Playwright!.". Table Talk. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 7 September 1939. p. 6. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  2. "Belated £3,000 for playwright.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 3 August 1951. p. 7. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  3. Whitehall Productions at AusStage
  4. Vagg, Stephen. 'Alec Coppel: Australian Playwright and Survivor.' Australasian Drama Studies, No. 56, Apr 2010: 219-232.
  5. "FILMLAND EVENTS: Miss Lindfors Will Appear on Broadway" Los Angeles Times 12 Sep 1960: C11.
  6. Guests for Dinner at AustLit
  7. The Australian Women's Weekly. 24, ([?]). Australia, Australia. 12 December 1956. p. 40 Retrieved 11 June 2016 via National Library of Australia. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. "BROADCAST FEATURES From A.B.C. Stations.". Riverine Herald. Echuca, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 15 November 1940. p. 1. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  9. "RADIOPINION.". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 28 May 1950. p. 8. Retrieved 19 February 2015.

External links

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