Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

BUDD BOETTICHER

Budd Boetticher (pronounced “bettiker”) was primarily known for his work as a director in the Western genre, but I didn't want to tell him that. Boetticher refused to be pinned down with any labels and described any attempts to pigeonhole his talents as “laziness on the part of all those critics!” Born Oscar Boetticher Jr. on July 29, 1916, in Chicago, Boetticher attended Culver Military Academy and later Ohio State University. During college, he went to Mexico to recover from a football injury and saw his first bullfight. Entranced by the drama of the ring, Boetticher wanted to make a career for himself as a matador. He returned to Hollywood only at the behest of his mother, who got him a job working as a horse wrangler on the second unit of Lewis Milestone's Of Mice and Men (1939). (In our talk, Boetticher disputed this story, stating emphatically, “I was never a horse wrangler! I was the second assistant director.”) This experience led to work as a technical advisor on Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand (1941), for which Boetticher coached Tyrone Power on the fine art of bullfighting and served as choreographer for the “El Torero” dance number, though without receiving formal credit.

From 20th Century Fox, Boetticher drifted over to Columbia, where he formed an unlikely alliance with Harry Cohn, the mercurial head of the studio, and he was soon working as an assistant director on such films as The More the Merrier (1943), Destroyer (1943), The Desperadoes (1943), and the big-budget Rita Hayworth vehicle Cover Girl (1944). Simultaneously, Cohn allowed Boetticher to finish up directorial chores on two films credited to Columbia B director Lew Landers (Submarine Raider [1942] and U-Boat Prisoner [1944]) before giving Boetticher his first chance to direct an entire film, One Mysterious Night (1944; credited to Oscar Boetticher). From then on, Boetticher made a name for himself as a reliable and inventive director in a variety of genres until he left Hollywood in 1960 for what should have been a brief trip to Mexico to make a documentary feature on the life and career of matador Carlos Arruza, one of Boetticher's idols.

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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