Arthur Penn: American Director

Arthur Penn: American Director

Arthur Penn: American Director

Arthur Penn: American Director

Synopsis

Arthur Penn: American Director is the comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century's most influential filmmakers. Thematic chapters lucidly convey the story of Penn's life and career, as well as pertinent events in the history of American film, theater, and television. In the process of tracing the full spectrum of his career, Arthur Penn reveals the enormous scope of Penn's talent and his profound impact on the entertainment industry in an accessible, engaging account of the well-known director's life.Born in 1922 to a family of Philadelphia immigrants, the young Penn was bright but aimless -- especially compared to his talented older brother Irving, who would later become a world-renowned photographer. Penn drifted into directing, but he soon mastered the craft in three mediums: television, Broadway, and motion pictures. By the time he made Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Penn was already a Tony-winning Broadway director and one of the prodigies of the golden age of television. His innovative handling of the story of two Depression-era outlaws not only challenged Hollywood's strict censorship code, it shook the foundation of studio system itself and ushered in the film revolution. His next films -- Alice's Restaurant (1969), Little Big Man (1970), and Night Moves (1975) -- became instant classics, summoning emotions from shock to sensuality and from confusion to horror, all of which reflected the complexity of the man behind the camera.The personal and creative odyssey captured in these pages includes memorable adventures in World War II; the chaotic days of live television; the emergence of Method acting in Hollywood; and experiences with Marlon Brando, Anne Bancroft, Warren Beatty, William Gibson, Lillian Hellman, and a host of other show business legends.

Excerpt

In the middle of Arthur Penn’s magnifico Four Friends there arrives the now justly immortalized, cosmically American moment where we find ourselves with an American family playing outside with their adopted Vietnamese child, while inside the house the television broadcasts news of the first landing on the moon by U.S. astronauts. It’s fair to call this a quintessentially American moment, brilliantly conceived and crafted by my dear friend and not infrequent mentor, the quintessentially American filmmaker, artist, and all-around great guy, Mr. Arthur Penn. (It’s not lost on me that I have already used one particular word— American—way too many times, but when it comes to Penn, this word will just pop up again and again and again because that’s who and what this man is.)

The book you are holding is rich in all the vital details and insights pertinent to the filmmaker in question, and I have the high honor of providing a few words of introduction here. Because my relationship with Arthur is so deep and long running, I’m introducing him through the prism of my experience of meeting the man first onscreen through his films, and eventually in person as a fellow New Yorker and as a brother in the Directors Guild of America.

I first met Arthur in the early 1960s at the Dixie Drive-In Theatre on the outskirts of Miami, Florida, where the usual crew of my movie-obsessed buddies and I, beers in hand and under the stars, watched this western called The Left Handed Gun at our favorite venue. We were all bowled over by this western, way more intimately scaled than we ordinarily cared for; in black and white, which we were not at all partial to; and, what’s more . . .

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