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Alexander (Sandy) Mackendrick, director of such classic comedies as “The Man in the White Suit” and “Sweet Smell of Success,” died of pneumonia Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Mackendrick directed five films for Britain’s Ealing Studios, “Whiskey Galore” (released in the U.S. as “Tight Little Island”); “The Man in the White Suit,” starring Alec Guinness; “Mandy,” released in the U.S. as “The Crash of Silence”; “The Maggie” and “The Ladykillers,” starring Guinness and Peter Sellers.

In 1955, Ealing Studios was sold to the BBC and Mackendrick left for the U.S. shortly thereafter.

He became associated with the production company Hill, Hecht and Lancaster (the latter being Burt Lancaster), where he directed the film “Sweet Smell of Success,” which was named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry this year.

Mackendrick directed just three features after that, “Sammy Goes South,” released in the U.S. as “A Boy Ten Feet Tall”; “A High Wind in Jamaica” and “Don’t Make Waves.”

In 1969, Mackendrick, after retiring from directing, was appointed Dean of the Film School at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1978, he became a Fellow of the Institute and continued teaching at CalArts.

Survivors include his wife and three sons.