Former journalist and film critic Leslie Arliss began his film career as a screenwriter in the 1930s, mainly for Gainsborough Pictures. He continued as a writer for ten years, leaving Gainsborough in 1941 when he was offered a chance to direct at Associated British. It wasn't long before he returned to Gainsborough and brought with him a young actor named James Mason, and the films they made together there garnered both of them public recognition. Their first, The Man in Grey (1943), was quite popular with wartime audiences, who found Mason's villainy just what they needed to hiss at during the depths of the war. Their next two films together, A Lady Surrenders (1944) and The Wicked Lady (1945), were also wildly successful, especially the latter with star Margaret Lockwood gaining attention for her appearance in a succession of low-cut (for 1945) dresses. It became the #1 box-office film in Britain for 1946.

Arliss then left Gainsborough for London Films, producer Alexander Korda's company; unfortunately, his tenure there was anything but productive. He and Korda did not get along at all and fought constantly (he was taken off of Korda's Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948), which was completed by Anthony Kimmins--and even Korda himself--but to no avail; it was one of the major flops of 1948). Arliss left London Films under less-than-amicable conditions and it was three years before he made another film. His latter work was a considerable step down in quality from his earlier films, and he wound up his career directing television.