Arthur Penn

Arthur Penn

Highest Rated: 100% Easy Riders---Raging Bulls (2003)

Lowest Rated: 25% Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)

Birthday: Sep 27, 1922

Birthplace: Not Available

Once the vanguard of 1960s-1970s Hollywood New Wave, director Arthur Penn saw his cinematic fortunes decline with the mid-'70s rise of more straightforward blockbuster entertainment. Even as he struggled through the '80s and '90s, however, Penn's legacy was assured by such films as Little Big Man (1970), Night Moves (1975), and the pivotal masterwork Bonnie and Clyde (1967).Born in Philadelphia, Penn was trained to follow in his father's footsteps as a watchmaker, but by high school, he knew he preferred theater. While stationed at Fort Jackson, SC, during World War II, Penn formed a small drama circle with his fellow infantrymen, and continued his education as an actor at school in North Carolina and Italy after the war. Though Penn acted in Joshua Logan's theater company and studied with Michael Chekhov at the Actors Studio's Los Angeles branch, he opted for a career behind the scenes when he got a job at NBC TV in 1951. By 1953, Penn was writing and directing live TV productions for the Philco Playhouse and Playhouse 90. Earning a shot at feature films, Penn combined the Method acting concentration on character psychology with the story of legendary Western outlaw Billy the Kid in The Left-Handed Gun (1958). Starring Paul Newman as Billy and shot in crisp black-and-white, The Left-Handed Gun emphasized '50s rebel neuroses over pastoral spectacle, becoming more of a character study of youthful revolt spiked with dramatic violence than a typical good vs. bad oater. Though European audiences loved it, Americans were unimpressed. Having directed the Broadway success Two for the Seesaw that same year, Penn stuck with theater and quickly established a sterling reputation with consecutive Broadway hits: The Miracle Worker, Toys in the Attic, and All the Way Home.Penn returned to movies with the film adaptation of The Miracle Worker (1962). Resisting pressure to cast Elizabeth Taylor, Penn insisted that Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke reprise their stage roles as intrepid tutor Annie Sullivan and her blind and deaf charge Helen Keller. Saccharine-free and masterfully acted, The Miracle Worker became a hit, earning an Oscar nomination for Penn and Oscar wins for Bancroft and Duke. Penn's Hollywood glow quickly diminished, however, when star Burt Lancaster abruptly fired Penn two days into shooting on The Train (1964). Angry and undaunted, Penn proceeded to make the underrated and little seen Mickey One (1965). Shot with French New Wave aplomb and starring Warren Beatty, Mickey One eschewed all narrative certainty in its highly personal exploration of a nameless man's paranoid flight from the Mob, presaging the enormous influence New Wave technical freedom, genre revision, and ambiguity would have on Hollywood a few years later. Penn left filmmaking again in disgust after producer Sam Spiegel fired him from The Chase (1966) and recut the film. After a year off, however, Penn was coaxed back into movies by Beatty to helm Bonnie and Clyde. Though they clashed during production, Beatty saw to it that he and Penn could cast the film with unknowns from New York theater and TV, shoot with no studio interference on location in Texas, and edit the film in New York. With his producer-star's full support, Penn aimed to make the violence as brutal as possible, culminating with the incendiary quick-cut, slow-motion climax showing the eponymous glamour outlaws riddled by bullets. Though critics were repulsed by the bloodshed and the notion of criminals as beautiful doomed heroes, Beatty, armed with a rave by Pauline Kael and reports of audience enthusiasm, fought Warner Bros. for a re-release and Penn's combination of French New Wave style with an American genre finally made an impact. Hailed as a visionary work and embraced by the youthful Vietnam-era audience, Bonnie and Clyde became a pop-culture phenomenon, inspiring a cycle of revisionist gangster movies that included Thieves Like Us (1974) and Badlands (1973), making stars out of Faye Dunaway

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Brando Actor 2007
100% Easy Riders---Raging Bulls Actor 2003
No Score Yet The Secret World of Magicians and Mentalists Actor 1998
No Score Yet Inside Director 1996
100% Lumière and Company Actor 1996
No Score Yet Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud Actor 1996
42% Naked in New York Himself 1994
No Score Yet The Portrait Director 1993
25% Penn & Teller Get Killed Producer 1989
77% Dead of Winter Director 1986
71% Target Director 1985
78% Four Friends Director Producer 1981
81% The Missouri Breaks Director 1976
83% Night Moves Director 1975
50% Visions of 8 - The Olympics of Motion Picture Achievement Director 1973
96% Little Big Man Producer Director 1970
61% Alice's Restaurant Director Screenwriter 1969
87% Bonnie and Clyde Director 1967
88% The Chase Director 1966
71% Mickey One Producer Director 1965
96% The Miracle Worker Director 1962
90% The Left Handed Gun Director 1958
No Score Yet Playhouse 90 - Charley's Aunt Director 1957
No Score Yet The Tears of My Sister Director 1953


No Score Yet Law & Order
Executive Producer 2006
No Score Yet Playhouse 90


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