Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

MONTE HELLMAN

One of the legendary figures of the American cinema, Monte Hellman is best known for directing Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), considered by many to be the definitive “road movie.” But Hellman's career goes back to the 1950s and his work in the formative days of television. Later, he worked for maverick producer/director Roger Corman on a number of projects. He then branched out on his own as a director, while continuing his work as an editor for such luminaries as the late Sam Peckinpah. In recent years, he's been involved in various projects with Vincent Gallo, Quentin Tarantino, and numerous other contemporary filmmakers. Hellman has seldom spoken at length about his work in film. In this interview, conducted on January 19, 2004, he offers a number of insights into his long and varied career.

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON: You were born on July 12, 1932, in New York, New York. Could you tell me something about your early education and your family?

MONTE HELLMAN: I was born in New York by mistake. My parents were from St. Louis, Missouri, and they were traveling in New York, expecting that I wouldn't be born for a week or so, but I was born accidentally in New York.

WWD: What did your father and mother do for a living?

MH: My mother was a housewife until her kids were grown, at which point she worked in retail. She had a job as a salesperson at a clothing store, and then she sold real estate. She was also a bridge teacher.

WWD: And your father?

MH: My father was in small businesses, like grocery stores and gas stations. He ultimately sold real estate as well.

WWD: So your parents were on vacation in New York, and then they went back to St. Louis, and that's where your family was based?

-98-

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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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