David was born in Helensburgh on the 9th May 1904. In his twenties he managed a rubber plantation in Malaya, but went to America in 1929, and became interested in film-making. Cecil B. DeMille hired him as a production assistant, but it would seem from MacDonald's subsequent career that he never developed the master's taste for films of epic stature. MacDonald went with DeMille on his return to Paramount in 1932, then came to Britain in 1936, making quota films for Paramount British.
MacDonald's first big success came with a series of films, mainly comedy-thrillers, made with Barry K. Barnes.. The pattern of these was set by the first, This Man is News (1938. A briskly amusing script and MacDonald's snappy direction made this a very lively and entertaining film. The star trio, Barnes, Hobson and Alastair Sim, were reunited on the equally successful This Man in Paris (1939), and the Barnes-MacDonald partnership continued through Law and Disorder (1940), Spies of the Air (1940) and The Midas Touch (1940) before it was broken up by World War II.
MacDonald joined the Crown Film Unit for whom he made a stirring documentary, Men of the Lightship (1940). As producer, he was also involved with Roy Boulting's award-winning documentaries, Desert Victory (1943) and Burma Victory (1945).
Post-war, he produced three large-scale misfires, one of which, the wordy Christopher Columbus (1949), sank under a surfeit of dialogue and practically took Fredric March's star career with it, although he continued as a star character player. MacDonald never recovered that lost ground. MacDonald's direction skilfully elicits sympathy for basically good men overcome by desire of riches. A lively swashbuckler, The Moonraker (1958), was a small highlight in the last years of his film career, by which time he was already entrenched in television drama.
David died in London, England on the 22nd June 1983.
Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
The Adventurers (1950)
Good Time Girl (1949)
Christopher Columbus (1949)
The Last Curtain (1937)
Desert Victory (1943)