John Sturges - Rotten Tomatoes

John Sturges

Highest Rated:   100% Marooned (1969)
Lowest Rated:   36% Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
One of Hollywood's top action directors of the late 1950s and 1960s, John Sturges, for a time, was a name associated almost exclusively with large-scale action-adventure films. A one-time assistant in RKO's blueprint department, Sturges spent most of his early career in the studio's art department and editing room (an especially productive department, where directors Robert Wise and Mark Robson also got their starts), before joining David O. Selznick as a production assistant and later as an editor. He became a director in the U.S. Army Air Force, making documentary and training films, including Thunderbolt, in collaboration with veteran director William Wyler. He returned to Hollywood as a director and, for a time, made successful if fairly undistinguished films (mostly action or suspense) until 1954, when he took on Bad Day at Black Rock. Sturges, who had shown a knack for working with the increasingly difficult Spencer Tracy (in The People Against O'Hara), coaxed a great performance out of the legendary star (and some of the best work ever by Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, and Anne Francis, among others) and transformed the film from a routine suspense vehicle into a powerful thriller, dealing with the then increasingly topical subject of racism and violence. Sturges received his only Academy Award nomination for Bad Day At Black Rock, and his career was made, as he became sought out by Hollywood's top producers. Gunfight At the O.K. Corral (1957), which he directed for producer Hal Wallis, was another hit. He was also responsible for The Old Man and the Sea (1958) and The Last Train From Gun Hill (1959), starring Spencer Tracy and Kirk Douglas. Sturges then became his own producer, beginning with The Magnificent Seven (1960), a large-scale Western action vehicle adapted from Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1954). It turned most of its featured players (including Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn) into stars and was popular enough to generate four sequels as well as a major hit musical theme by Elmer Bernstein. The Great Escape (1963), a fact-based all-star World War II thriller, was the high water mark of Sturges' career. It became an enormous theatrical hit and a subsequent favorite on home video and laserdisc (where there are two rival editions out -- one featuring Sturges's own recollections about the movie). His next movie, The Satan Bug (1965), based on a popular best-seller, seemed to be a deliberate attempt to get away from big, all-star vehicles. It failed and quickly ended up on television, while The Hallelujah Trail (1965) proved an awkward, unpopular Western satire despite its big-name cast. His subsequent movies, including Ice Station Zebra (1968) and Joe Kidd (1972), were popular but never on the scale of Sturges's early 1960s work. And his Hour of the Gun (1967), a more personal, deeply psychological reinterpretation of events surrounding the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, was a failure at the box office. Marooned (1969), which he inherited as a project from Frank Capra, was initially a failure, until the story of an Apollo spacecraft trapped in orbit suddenly took on new relevancy in the wake of the Apollo 13 explosion; it became a hit soon after. The Eagle Has Landed (1976), a return to Great Escape-style action and scale dealing with an attempt by the Germans to kidnap Winston Churchill during World War II, was successful, but also marked his retirement. In 1991, Sturges came out of retirement to participate in the making of a special laserdisc edition of The Great Escape for Voyager Company. Although not highly regarded as a stylist, Sturges had a way of working with actors and designing scenes that elicited strong emotional response from audiences -- especially men -- that made his pictures extremely compelling. He probably rated Academy Award consideration for The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Curiously, he seemed to understand the special appeal that his films had for male audience

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Underwater
  • Director
2003
No Score Yet Return to 'The Great Escape'
  • Actor
1993
No Score Yet Spencer Tracy Legacy
  • Actor
1987
No Score Yet Chino
  • Director
1977
86% The Eagle Has Landed
  • Director
1976
50% McQ
  • Director
1974
No Score Yet Valdez, il Mezzosangue (Chino) (Valdez the Halfbreed)
  • Director
1973
86% Joe Kidd
  • Director
1972
100% Marooned
  • Producer
  • Director
1969
36% Ice Station Zebra
  • Director
1968
100% Hour of the Gun
  • Producer
  • Director
1967
No Score Yet The Hallelujah Trail
  • Director
  • Producer
1965
60% The Satan Bug
  • Producer
  • Director
1965
93% The Great Escape
  • Director
  • Producer
1963
No Score Yet Sergeants 3
  • Director
1962
No Score Yet By Love Possessed
  • Director
1961
No Score Yet Never So Few
  • Director
1960
90% The Magnificent Seven
  • Producer
  • Director
1960
80% Last Train from Gun Hill
  • Director
1959
88% The Old Man and the Sea
  • Director
1958
No Score Yet The Law and Jake Wade
  • Director
1958
82% Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
  • Director
1957
No Score Yet Backlash
  • Director
1956
No Score Yet The Scarlet Coat
  • Director
1955
No Score Yet Underwater!
  • Director
1955
97% Bad Day at Black Rock
  • Director
1955
No Score Yet Escape From Fort Bravo
  • Director
1953
No Score Yet Jeopardy
  • Director
1953
No Score Yet It's a Big Country
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet Kind Lady
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet The People Against O'Hara
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet Right Cross
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Mystery Street
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet The Capture
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet The Magnificent Yankee
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet The Sign of the Ram
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Thunderbolt
  • Screenwriter
1945

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