Robert Vansittart's service to motion pictures was but a footnote to his life, which was mostly given over to service to the British government, primarily in the realm of diplomacy. Born in 1881, Robert Gilbert Vansittart was educated at Eton College, and beginning in 1902, at the age of 21, joined the diplomatic service. Among his numerous posts, he was the Permanent Under-Secretary to the Diplomatic Service from 1930 to 1938 and, subsequent to that, Chief Diplomatic Adviser to the government. As is now known, he was also responsible for starting a "shadow" intelligence service to monitor foreign events, especially in Germany, at the outset of Adolf Hitler's rise to power, and he was one of the British government's most vociferous voices in opposition to Hitler, at a time when appeasement was considered a preferable policy.
Vansittart was a close friend of film producer Alexander Korda, and their contact led to Korda's work -- revealed 60 years later -- providing intelligence information to the British government. Vansittart was also a writer of some skill and worked on the screenplay for one of the earliest London Films productions, Wedding Rehearsal. In addition, he was credited with the dialogue in Miles Malleson's screenplay for Sixty Glorious Years, an opulent cinematic depiction of the reign of Queen Victoria. Vansittart also contributed the lyrics (credited to the pseudonym Robert Denham) for the songs used in Korda's production of The Thief of Bagdad (1940), to music by Miklos Rozsa. Vansittart's friendship with Korda, and the government's interest in fostering the latter's international film contacts, also led to his playing a key role in securing the financing for Korda's London Films, both at its original incorporation and at various crisis points in the company's history. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi