Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

JACK HILL

As his Web site boasts, “legendary cult-film director, grunge auteur, notoriil ous—these are some of the phrases used recently to describe writerdirector Jack Hill. He has also been referred to as the man who initiated the women-in-prison genre of the seventies, and whose films helped define the so-called blaxploitation genre, as well as the man who discovered Pam Grier. Unlike most cult films, though, Hill's films were commercially extremely successful in their initial release, despite being generally snubbed by contemporary critics. But that situation has been remedied in recent years, as many of today's serious critics—perhaps inspired by the enthusiastic support of Quentin Tarantino, who gladly acknowledges the influence of Hill's films on his own work— have been taking a new look at some of Hill's films of the sixties and seventies and using terms like 'post-modern,' 'ahead of their time,' and 'feminist manifesto' to describe them.” Throughout our conversation, I was not disappointed by the subject of this hyperbolic introduction. Jack Hill has crammed more into his career than most film industry insiders, and our conversation took a number of surprising turns, further illuminating the world of exploitational filmmaking in the early 1960s. Hill's best films have now been taken up by a whole new generation of critics and filmmakers, and he seemed eager to talk about such films as Coffy (1973), Switchblade Sisters (1975), and The Big Doll House (1971). I had the chance to talk to Jack Hill on January 20, 2004, and our conversation ranged over a wide variety of exploits, from his early years as a musician, to his career as a director, and to his future and current projects.

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON: I understand that your father was a designer for Disney and for Warner Bros. Could you tell me some more about your father's work?

JACK HILL: My father, Roland Hill, was a flyer in World War I in France. Then, after the war, he stayed to study art and architecture in Europe. When he

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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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