A former stage director, Basil Dearden entered films as an assistant to director Basil Dean (he changed his name from Dear to avoid being confused with Dean). Dearden worked his way up the ladder and directed (with Will Hay) his first film in 1941; two years later he directed his first film on his own. He eventually became associated with writer/producer Michael Relph, and together the two made films on themes not often tackled in British films, such as homosexuality and race relations. In the '60s Dearden embarked on a new phase of his career by directing large-scale action pictures, the best of which was Khartoum (1966), which was a critical and financial success. Not long after completing The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), Dearden was killed in an automobile accident.