Korda was born in Hungary, where he worked as a journalist before going into films as a producer. He also worked in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Hollywood, becoming director of United Artists. It was in Britain, however, that he made the biggest impression, and in 1932 he founded London Film Productions and the studios at Denham. His films were lavish and (after the advent of colour) visually striking. They included The Private Life of Henry VIII (1932) and Rembrandt (1936), both of which starred Charles Laughton, who was also to have appeared in the ill-fated I, Claudius. In 1942, Korda became the first film director ever to be knighted. Among his greatest successes as producer were The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and The Third Man (1949).
The Red Shoes was also originally meant to be a Korda film and was meant as a vehicle for his future wife Merle Oberon. It was eventually made by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger instead.