The archetypal studio professional, Hathaway began working in films before the industry had settled in Hollywood. During his 40-year career he directed over 60 features (including Paramount’s first Technicolor picture, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” 1936), became a pioneer of location shooting, and developed a reputation as a technically accomplished, reliable entertainer. He later bemoaned the familiar and unjust tag of “genial hack” which he had earned, he said, because of his reluctance to indulge in personal promotion. Certainly, though, the director of such fine and craftsmanlike action films like “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” (1935), “Souls at Sea” (1937) and “Spawn of the North” (1938), as well as the atypical but hauntingly surreal love story “Peter Ibbetson” (1935), deserves more critical respect.
Hathaway began his career in San Diego, as a child actor in one-reelers directed by Allan Dwan, before moving to Hollywood with his actress mother. Both worked for T.H… read more
Although John Ford—his friend, contemporary, and the director arguably closest to him in terms of his talent and output—told him that it was he, and not Ford, who should have won the 1941 Best Director Academy Award (for Sergeant York (1941)), the great Hawks never won an Oscar in competition and was nominated for Best Director only that one time, despite making some of the best films in the Hollywood canon. The Academy eventually made up for the oversight in 1974 by voting him an honorary Academy Award, in the midst of a two-decade-long critical revival that has gone on for yet another two decades. To many cineastes, Howard Hawks is one of the faces of American film and would be carved on any film pantheon’s Mt. Rushmore honoring America’s greatest directors, beside his friend Ford and Orson Welles (the other great director who Ford beat out for the 1941 Oscar). It took the French “Cahiers du Cinema” critics to teach America to appreciate one of its own masters, and it was… read more
After a start as a stage actor, Henry Kingbegan appearing in films in 1912, and by 1915 was directing. King made numerous dramas, westerns, and actioners over the teens, achieving special distinction with his 1919 comedy 23-1/2 Hours Leave. Two years later he co-wrote, produced, and directed the landmark rural drama Tol’able David; his other important works of the ‘20s include The White Sister (1923), Romola (1925), and The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926). A prolific and reliable craftsman, King made numerous handsome films into the early 1960s, most notably two outstanding films with Gregory Peck: a psychological drama of World War II, Twelve O’Clock High (1942), and the moody, intelligent western The Gunfighter (1950). King’s career is also notable for his feeling for Americana, as found in 1930s projects as different as State Fair (1933), Jesse James (1939), and In Old Chicago (1938), as well as in such later films as Remember the Day (1941) and Wait ’Til the Sun Shines, Nellie… read more
Henry Koster (May 1, 1905 – September 21, 1988) was born Hermann Kosterlitz in Berlin, Germany. He became a film director and later moved to Hollywood. Koster’s father, a salesman, left home when Henry was a young man. Koster still managed to finish gymnasium (high school) in Berlin while working as short story writer and cartoonist.
Koster was introduced to cinema about 1910 when his uncle opened a very early movie theater in Berlin. Koster’s mother played the piano to accompany the films, leaving the young boy to occupy himself by watching the films. After working initially as a short story writer, Koster was subsequently hired by a Berlin movie company as scenarist, became assistant to director Curtis Bernhardt. Bernhardt became sick one day and asked Koster to take over as director. In about 1931 or 1932, Koster directed two or three films in Berlin for UFA.
Koster, who was in the midst of directing a film, had already been the subject of anti-Semitism, and knew he… read more
Jean Negulseco ran away to Vienna, Austria in 1915, and by 1919 had established himself as a painter in Bucharest, Romania. He later worked as a stage decorator in Paris. He came to New York for an exhibition of his paintings in 1927 and stayed. He entered the movie industry in 1934 as an assistant producer and later became a second unit director on pictures such as Captain Blood and A Farewell To Arms. He spent much of the middle and late 1930s as an associate director and screenwriter (including the original story for the Laurel and Hardy musical comedy Swiss Miss). He made two-reel shorts at Warner Bros., and was given his abortive feature directorial debut in 1941’s Singapore Woman, from which he was removed but retained credit as director. In the early days of 1942, he took over direction (including the denouement) of Across The Pacific from John Huston when Huston was called up for military service. The Mask of Dimetrios (1944) was Negulesco’s formal debut, and proved successful… read more