Robert Michael Winner (30 October 1935 – 21 January 2013) was an English film director and producer, and a restaurant critic for The Sunday Times.
Winner was an only child, born in Hampstead, London, England, to Helen (née Zlota) and George Joseph Winner (1910–1975), a company director. His family was Jewish; his mother was Polish and his father of Russian extraction, and a Freemason. Following his father's death, Winner's mother gambled recklessly and sold art and furniture left to her only for life but to Michael thereafter, amounting to around £10m at the time. She died in a nursing home at the age of 78 in 1984.
He was educated at St Christopher School, Letchworth, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied law and economics. He also edited the university's student newspaper, Varsity. Winner had earlier written a newspaper column, 'Michael Winner's Showbiz Gossip,' in the Kensington Post from the age of 14. The first issue of Showgirl Glamour Revue in 1955 has him writing another film and showbusiness gossip column, "Winner's World". Such jobs allowed him to meet and interview several leading film personalities, including James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. He also wrote for the New Musical Express.
He began his screen career as an assistant director of BBC television programmes, cinema shorts, and full-length "B" productions, occasionally writing screenplays. In 1957 he directed his first travelogue, This is Belgium, shot largely on location in East Grinstead. His first on-screen credit was earned as a writer for the 1958 crime film Man with a Gun directed by Montgomery Tully. Winner's first credit on a cinema short was Associate Producer on the 1959 film Floating Fortress produced by Harold Baim. Winner's first project as a lead director involved another story he wrote, Shoot to Kill, in 1960. He would regularly edit his own movies, using the pseudonym "Arnold Crust".
In the early 1960s, Winner's films followed fashion. His second project, Some Like It Cool (1961), is the tale of a young woman who introduces her prudish husband and in-laws to the joys of nudism. Filmed at Longleat, he was afraid the sight of bare flesh would offend the magistrate for the area so he confided his worries to the landowner. ‘Don’t worry,’ said the Marquess, ‘I am the local magistrate.’