His birth name was Roland de Gostrie. Neill began directing silent movies in 1917 and went on to helm 107 films, 40 of them silent. Although most of Neill"s films were low-budget B-movies, he was known for directing films with meticulously lit scenes with carefully layered shadows that would become the style of film noir in the late 1940s.
In fact, his last film, Black Angel (1946), is considered a film noir.
He was also credited in some works as R. William Neill, Roy West. Neill, and Roy Neill. Neill lived in the United States for most of his career and was a United States. citizen.
He did go to London from 1935 until 1940 where better opportunities existed for American directors. During this period, British film producer Edward Black hired Neill to direct The Lady Vanishes.
However, due to delays in production, Black hired Alfred Hitchcock to direct instead.
Neill died in London, England, from a heart attack.