In the scramble for space and fame that became the nouvelle vague, Louis Malle began with more hard experience than Godard, Truffaut, or Chabrol, and he showed in Ascenseur pour l'chafaud that his instincts for themes and collaborators were faultless. Henri Deca?'s low-light photography and Malle's use of Jeanne Moreau established him as emblematic of the new French cinema. But the Cahiers trio with their publicist background made artistic hay while Malle persisted in a more intimate voyage of discovery with his lovely star.
Arthur Penn has often been classed?along with Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, and Francis Coppola?among the more ?European? American directors. Stylistically, this is true enough. Penn's films, especially after Bonnie and Clyde, tend to be technically experimental, and episodic in structure; their narrative line is elliptical, undermining audience expectations with abrupt shifts in mood and rhythm. Such features can be traced to the influence of the French New Wave, in particular the early films of Fran?ois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, which Penn greatly admired.
As a student at the Polish State Film School and later as a director working under government sponsorship, Roman Polanski learned to make films with few resources. Using only a few trained actors (there are but three characters in his first feature) and a hand-held camera (due to the unavailability of sophisticated equipment) Polanski managed to create several films that contributed to the international reputation of the burgeoning Polish cinema.
Abraham Lincoln Polonsky's filmography is quite thin: his second film as director, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, was released twenty-one years after his first, Force of Evil. ?I was a left-winger,? he told Look magazine in 1970. ?I supported the Soviet Union.
The public persona of Austrian-born Otto Preminger has epitomized for many the typical Hollywood movie director: an accented, autocratic, European-born disciplinarian who terrorized his actors, bullied his subordinates, and spent millions of dollars to ensure that his films be produced properly, although economically. Before the Cahiers du cinema critics began to praise Preminger, it may have been this public persona, more than anything else, that impeded an appreciation of Preminger's extraordinarily subtle style or thematic consistencies.
Vsevolod Illarionovitch Pudovkin's major contribution to the cinema is as a theorist. He was fascinated by the efforts of his teacher, the filmmaker Lev Kuleshov, in exploring the effects of montage. As Pudovkin eventually did in his own work, Kuleshov often created highly emotional moments by rapidly intercutting shots of diverse content. Of course, the results could be manipulated. In The End of St. Petersburg, for instance, Pudovkin mixed together shots of stock market speculation with those depicting war casualties.
Godard's magisterial statement, ?the cinema is Nicholas Ray,? has come in for a good deal of ridicule, not by any means entirely undeserved. Yet it contains a core of truth, especially if taken in reverse. Nicholas Ray is cinema in the sense that his films work entirely (and perhaps only) as movies, arrangements of space and movement charged with dramatic tension. Few directors demonstrate more clearly that a film is something beyond the sum of its parts.
From the beginning of his career as a filmmaker, Satyajit Ray was interested in finding ways to reveal the mind and thoughts of his characters. Because the range of his sympathy was wide, he has been accused of softening the presence of evil in his cinematic world. But a director who aims to represent the currents and cross-currents of feeling within people is likely to disclose to viewers the humanness even in reprehensible figures.
Carol Reed came to films from the theater, where he worked as an assistant to Edgar Wallace. He served his apprenticeship in the film industry first as a dialogue director, and then graduated to the director's chair via a series of low-budget second features.
Jean Renoir's major work dates from between 1924 and 1939. Of his 21 films the first six are silent features that put forward cinematic problems that come to dominate the entire oeuvre. All study a detachment, whether of language and image, humans and nature, or social rules and real conduct. Optical effects are treated as problems coextensive with narrative. He shows people who are told to obey rules and conventions in situations and social frames that confine them. A sensuous world is placed before everyone's eyes, but access to it is confounded by cultural mores.
Alain Resnais is a prominent figure in the modernist narrative film tradition. His emergence as a feature director of international repute is affiliated with the eruption of the French New Wave in the late 1950s.
The years 1932 to 1945 define the major filmmaking efforts of Leni Riefenstahl. Because she remained a German citizen making films in Hitler's Third Reich, two at the Fuhrer's request, she and her films were viewed as pro-Nazi. Riefenstahl claims she took no political position and committed no crimes. In 1948, a German court ruled that she was a follower of, not active in, the Nazi Party. Another court in 1952 reconfirmed her innocence of war crimes. But she is destined to remain a politically controversial filmmaker who made two films rated as masterpieces.
In the days when the young lions of the New Wave were busy railing against ?Le Cin?ma du papa? in magazine articles and attending all-night screenings of Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis movies at La Cin?math?que, Jacques Rivette was quite the keenest cinephile of them all. He made a short as early as 1950, worked as an assistant director for Becker and Renoir, and wrote endless essays for Gazette du cin?ma and Cahiers du cin?ma, which he would later edit.
By virtue of a tenure shared at Cahiers du cin?ma during the 1950s and early 1960s, Eric Rohmer is usually classified with Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, and Rivette as a member of the French New Wave. Yet, except for three early shorts made with Godard, Rohmer's films seem to share more with the traditional values of such directors as Renoir and Bresson than with the youthful flamboyance of his contemporaries. Much of this divergence is owed to an accident of birth.
The cinema, like heaven, has many mansions, and the place occupied by Sergei Paradzhanov is a very rich one indeed. This dissident, highly individual film creator made films startling in their beauty, deeply imbued with ethnic consciousness, as unique in their style as, say, the work of Miklos Jancs?.
?The art of the theatre is reborn under another form and will realize unprecedented prosperity. A new field is open to the dramatist enabling him to produce works that neither Sophocles, Racine, nor Moli?re had the means to attempt.? With these words, Marcel Pagnol greeted the advent of synchronous sound to the motion picture, and announced his conversion to the new medium. The words also served to launch a debate, carried on for the most part with Ren? Clair, in which Pagnol argued for the primacy of text over image in what he saw as the onset of a new age of filmed theater.
Bryher, writing in Close Up in 1927, noted that ?it is the thought and feeling that line gesture that interest Mr. Pabst. And he has what few have, a consciousness of Europe. He sees psychologically and because of this, because in a flash he knows the sub-conscious impulse or hunger that prompted an apparently trivial action, his intense realism becomes, through its truth, poetry.?
Rouben Mamoulian is certainly one of the finest directors in American film history. While not considered strictly an auteur with a unifying theme running through his films, the importance of each of his movies on an individual basis is significant. Mamoulian did not have a large output, having completed only sixteen assignments in his twenty-year career in motion pictures, principally because he was also very active in the theater.
Few of Mankiewicz's contemporaries experimented so radically with narrative form. In The Barefoot Contessa, Mankiewicz (who wrote most of the films he directed) let a half-dozen voice-over narrators tell the Contessa's story, included flashbacks within flashbacks, and even showed one event twice (the slapping scene in the restaurant) from two different points of view.
Anthony Mann incidentally directed films in various genres (the musical, the war movie, the spy drama); however, his career falls into three clearly marked phases: the early period of low-budget, B-feature films noir; the central, most celebrated period of westerns, mostly with James Stewart; and his involvement in the epic (with Samuel Bronston as producer).
Chris Marker's principal distinction may be to have developed a form of personal essay within the documentary mode. Aside from his work little is known about him; he is elusive bordering on mysterious. Born in a suburb of Paris, he has allowed a legend to grow up about his birth in a ?far-off country.? Marker is not his name; it is one of a half-dozen aliases he has used. He chose ?Marker,? it is thought, in reference to the Magic Marker pen.
Shooting unobtrusively in sync sound with no instructions to the subject, the Maysles brothers made films in what they preferred to call ?direct cinema.? Albert, gifted photographer and director of all their projects, carried the lightweight, silent camera that he perfected on his shoulder, its accessories built in and ready for adjustment. Maysles characters, who occasionally talk to the filmmakers on screen, seem astonishingly unaware that strangers and apparatus are in the room.
Leo McCarey has always presented auteur criticism with one of its greatest challenges and one that has never been convincingly met. The failure to do so should be seen as casting doubt on the validity of auteurism (in its cruder and simpler forms) rather than on the value of the McCarey oeuvre. He worked consistently (and apparently quite uncomplainingly) within the dominant codes of shooting and editing that comprise the anonymous ?classical Hollywood? style; the films that bear his name as director, ranging from Duck Soup to The Bells of St.
The career of Jean-Pierre Melville is one of the most independent in modern French cinema. The tone was set with his first feature film, Le Silence de la mer, made quite outside the confines of the French film industry. Without union recognition or even the rights to the novel by Vercors which he was adapting, Melville proceeded to make a film which, in its counterpointing of images and a spoken text, set the pattern for a whole area of French literary filmmaking extending from Bresson and Resnais down to Duras in the 1980s.
Between 1942 and 1962, Vincente Minnelli directed twenty-nine films (and parts of several others) at Metro-Goldywn-Mayer, eventually becoming the studio's longest-tenured director. Brought to Hollywood following a tremendously successful career as a Broadway set designer and director of musicals, he was immediately placed at the helm of MGM's biggest musical productions, beginning with Cabin in the Sky. Over the next decade-and-a-half, he gained a reputation as the premiere director at work in the genre.
In an era in which consistent visual style seems perhaps too uniformly held as the prerequisite of the valorized auteur, one can all too easily understand why Robert Mulligan's work has failed to evince any passionate critical interest.
Mikio Naruse belongs in the second echelon of Japanese directors of his generation, along with Gosho, Ozu, and Kinoshita. This group ranks behind Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Ichikawa, and Kobayashi, who broke out beyond the bounds of the conventions of the Japanese cinema, whereas Naruse and the others were mostly content to work within it. This is not to say that all of them did not tackle contemporary as well as historical subjects.
Ermanno Olmi, born in Bergamo in 1931, is the Italian filmmaker most committed to and identified with a regional heritage.
Max Oph?ls's work falls neatly into three periods, marked by geographical locations and diverse production conditions, yet linked by common thematic concerns and stylistic/formal procedures: the pre-Second World War European period (during which he made films in four countries and four languages); the four Hollywood films of the late 1940s (to which one might add the remarkable Howard Hughes-produced Vendetta, on which he worked extensively in its early pre-production phases and which bears many identifiable Oph?lsian traces, both thematic and stylistic); and the four films made in
Throughout his career, Yasujiro Ozu worked in the mainstream film industry. Obedient to his role, loyal to his studio (the mighty Shochiku), he often compared himself to the tofu salesman, offering nourishing but supremely ordinary wares. For some critics, his greatness stems from his resulting closeness to the everyday realities of Japanese life. Yet since his death another critical perspective has emerged.
The films of Francesco Rosi stand as an urgent riposte to any proposal of aesthetic puritanism as a sine qua non of engaged filmmaking. From Salvatore Giuliano to Illustrious Corpses and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, he uses a mobilisation of the aesthetic potential of the cinema not to decorate his tales of corruption, complicity, and death, but to illuminate and interrogate the reverberations these events cause.
Roberto Rossellini has been so closely identified with the rise of the postwar Italian style of filmmaking known as neorealism that it would be a simple matter to neatly pigeonhole him as merely a practitioner of that technique and nothing more. So influential has that movement been that the achievement embodied in just three of his films?Roma, citt? aperta; Pais?; and Germania, anno zero?would be enough to secure the director a major place in film history.
Fran?ois Truffaut was one of five young French film critics, writing for Andr? Bazin's Cahiers du cin?ma in the early 1950s, who became the leading French filmmakers of their generation.
The films of Edgar G. Ulmer have generally been classified as ?B? pictures. However, it might be more appropriate to reclassify some of these films as ?Z? pictures. On an average, Ulmer?s pictures were filmed on a six-day shooting schedule with budgets as small as $20,000. He often worked without a decent script, adequate sets, or convincing actors. But these hardships did not prevent Ulmer from creating an individual style within his films.
Agn?s Varda?s startlingly individualistic films have earned her the title ?grandmother of the New Wave? of French filmmaking. Her statement that a filmmaker must exercise as much freedom as a novelist became a mandate for New Wave directors, especially Chris Marker and Alain Resnais. Varda?s first film, La Pointe courte, edited by Resnais, is regarded, as Georges Sadoul affirms, as "the first film of the French nouvelle vuage. Its interplay between conscience, emotions, and the real world make it a direct antecedent of Hiroshima, mon amour"
King Vidor began work in Hollywood as a company clerk for Universal, submitting original scripts under the pseudonym Charles K. Wallis. (Universal employees weren't allowed to submit original work to the studio.) Vidor eventually confessed his wrongdoing and was fired as a clerk, only to be rehired as a comedy writer. Within days, he lost this job as well when Universal discontinued comedy production.
The films of Luchino Visconti are among the most stylistically and intellectually influential of postwar Italian cinema. Born a scion of ancient nobility, Visconti integrated the most heterogeneous elements of aristocratic sensibility and taste with a committed Marxist political consciousness, backed by a firm knowledge of Italian class structure. Stylistically, his career follows a trajectory from a uniquely cinematic realism to an operatic theatricalism, from the simple quotidian eloquence of modeled actuality to the heightened effect of lavishly appointed historical melodramas.
There is a sense in which Josef von Sternberg never grew up. In his personality, the twin urges of the disturbed adolescent toward self-advertisement and self-effacement fuse with a brilliant visual imagination to create an artistic vision unparalleled in the cinema. But von Sternberg lacked the cultivation of Murnau, the sophistication of his mentor von Stroheim, the humanity of Griffith, or the ruthlessness of Chaplin. His imagination remained immature, and his personality was malicious and obsessive. His films reflect a schoolboy's fascination with sensuality and heroics.
Raoul Walsh's extraordinary career spanned the history of the American motion picture industry from its emergence, through its glory years in the 1930s and 1940s, and into the television era. Like his colleagues Alan Dwan, King Vidor, John Ford, and Henry King, whose careers also covered fifty years, Walsh continuously turned out popular fare, including several extraordinary hits. Movie fans have long appreciated the work of this director's director.
Before going to Hollywood Charles Walters spent about eight years on Broadway. For the most part he was a dancer, but in 1938 he choreographed his first show. A few years later Robert Altman introduced him to MGM and he began to stage routines for the screen. He worked with Gene Kelly on a number for Du Barry Was A Lady, then began staging musical numbers for some of Metro's leading ladies such as June Allyson, Gloria De Haven, Lucille Ball, and Judy Garland. Garland became a great friend and he worked on a number of her films, sometimes dancing with her.
References to Orson Welles as one of America's most influential directors and Citizen Kane as one of the great American films have become a simplistic way to encapsulate Welles's unique contribution to cinema. It is a contribution which seems obvious but is difficult to adequately summarize without examining his complex career.
William Wellman's critical reputation is in many respects still in a state of flux long after re-evaluations and recent screenings of his major films should have established some consensus of opinion regarding his place in the pantheon of film directors. While there is some tentative agreement that he is, if nothing else, a competent journeyman director capable of producing entertaining male-dominated action films, other opinions reflect a wide range of artistic evaluations, ranging from comparisons to D.W. Griffith to outright condemnations of his films as clumsy and uninspired.
Although he is primarily remembered as the director of the cult horror films Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, and The Bride of Frankenstein, James Whale contributed much more to the cinema. He also handled such stylish and elegant productions as Waterloo Bridge and One More River, which had little critical impact when they were first released and are, unfortunately, largely unknown today.
During the course of his directorial career, Billy Wilder succeeded in offending just about everybody. He offended the public, who shunned several of his movies as decisively as they flocked to others; he offended the press with Ace in the Hole, the U.S. Congress with A Foreign Affair, the Hollywood establishment with Sunset Boulevard ("This Wilder should be horsewhipped!" fumed Louis B. Mayer), and religious leaders with Kiss Me, Stupid; he offended the critics, both those who found him too cynical and those who found him not cynical enough.
William Wyler's career is an excellent argument for nepotism. Wyler went to work for ?Uncle? Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal, and learned the movie business as assistant director and then director of programmers, mainly westerns. One of his first important features, A House Divided, demonstrates many of the qualities that mark his films through the next decades. A transparent imitation of Eugene O'Neill's Desire under the Elms, it contains evidence of the staging strategies that identify Wyler's distinctive mise-en-sc?ne.
Maurice Tourneur is one of the greatest pictorialists of the cinema, deriving his aesthetic from his early associations with Rodin and Puvis de Chavannes. Having worked for Andr? Antoine as an actor and producer, he joined the Eclair Film Company in 1912 and travelled to their American Studios at Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1914. There he directed films based on successful stage plays. In The Wishing Ring it is possible to see the charm and visual beauty he brought to his work.
The first director Val Lewton hired for his RKO unit was Jacques Tourneur, and the first picture made by that unit was Cat People, an original screenplay by De Witt Bodeen.
Jacques Tati's father was disappointed that his son didn't enter the family business, the restoration and framing of old paintings. In Jacques Tati's films, however, the art of framing?of selecting borders and playing on the limits of the image?achieved new expressive heights. Instead of restoring old paintings, Tati restored the art of visual comedy, bringing out a new density and brilliance of detail, a new clarity of composition.
Robert Rossen died as he was beginning to regain a prominent position in the cinema. His premature death left us with a final film that pointed to a new, deepening devotion to the study of deteriorating psychological states.
A prolific and innovative ethnographie filmmaker as well as a pioneer of cin?ma v?rit? and improvised film psychodrama, Jean Rouch has not only redefined documentary film practice but also stimulated radical developments in fiction film. It was as a civil engineer preferring West Africa to the German occupation that Rouch came to anthropology through observation of Songhay rituals.
British director Ken Russell was forty-two when his film of D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love placed him in the ranks of movie directors of international stature. For more than a decade before that, however, British television viewers had been treated to a succession of his skilled TV biographies of great artists like Frederick Delius (Song of Summer) and Isadora Duncan. Russell has always gravitated toward the past in choosing subjects for filming because, as he says, ?topics of the moment pass and change.
The career of Claude Sautet was slow in getting underway, but by the 1970s he had virtually become the French cinema's official chronicler of bourgeois life. He had made his directing debut with a solidly constructed thriller, Classe tous risques, in 1960, but a second film, L'Arme ? gauche, did not follow until 1965 and was markedly less successful. Despite numerous scriptwriting assignments, his directing career did not really get underway until he completed Les Choses de la vie in 1969. This set the pattern for a decade of filmmaking.
Don Siegel's virtues?tightly constructed narratives and explosive action sequences?have been apparent from the very beginning. Even his B pictures have an enviable ability to pin audiences to their seats through the sheer force and pace of the events they portray. Unlike some action-movie specialists, however, Siegel rarely allows the action to overcome the characterization. The continuing fascination of Riot in Cell Block 11, for instance, stems as much from its central character's tensions as from the violent and eventful story.
Robert Siodmak is an example of the UFA-influenced German directors who moved to Hollywood when war threatened Europe. Less well known than his compatriots Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang, Siodmak demonstrated his cinematic skills early in his career with his innovative movie Menschen am Sonntag, which featured a non-professional cast, hand-held camera shots, stop motion photography, and the sort of flashbacks that later became associated with his work in America.
Along with Sj?str?m, Stiller, and Bergman, Sj?berg must be counted as one of the most significant directors of the Swedish cinema, and indeed as the most important in that long period between the departure of Sj?str?m and Stiller for Hollywood and the establishment of Bergman as a mature talent. However, it is hard not to agree with the judgement of Peter Cowie when he states that Sj?berg "is hampered by a want of thematic drive, for he is not preoccupied, like Bergman, with a personal vision.
John Stahl was a key figure in the development of the Hollywood ?women's melodrama? during the 1930s and 1940s, and quite possibly in the 1910s and 1920s as well. Although he began directing in 1914, and apparently made as many films before sound as after, only two of his silents (Her Code of Honor and Suspicious Wives) seem to have survived. Yet this is hardly the only reason that the ultimate critical and historical significance of his work remains to be established.
Katharine Hepburn had originally been responsible for bringing George Stevens to the attention of those in the front office. He had directed a great many two-reelers for Hal Roach, and was just entering films as a director of features when Hepburn met him, liked him, and asked that he be assigned as director to her next film, Alice Adams. It was a giant step forward for Stevens, but Alice Adams, from the Booth Tarkington novel, was a project right up his alley.
As a screenwriter, Preston Sturges stands out for his narrative inventiveness. All of the amazing coincidences and obvious repetitions in such comedies as Easy Living and The Good Fairy show Sturges's mastery of the standard narrative form, as well as his ability to exaggerate it and shape it to his own needs. Moreover, in The Power and the Glory (an early model for Citizen Kane), Sturges pioneered the use of voice-over narration to advance a story.
Alain Tanner's involvement with film began during his college years. While attending Geneva's Calvin College, he and Claude Goretta formed Geneva's first film society. It was during this time that Tanner developed an admiration for the ethnographic documentaries of Jean Rouch and fellow Swiss Henry Brandt, an influence that continued throughout his career.
"Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn't explain. What should he explain anyhow?" Thus Ingmar Bergman, in his autobiography The Magic Lantern, bows down before the Russian director while also hinting at what makes Tarkovsky's work so awkward to critics: it can verge on the inscrutable. Too opaque to yield concrete meaning, it offers itself as sacral art, demanding a rapt, and even religious, response from its audiences.