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Robert Aldrich

Highest Rated: 100% Attack (1956)

Lowest Rated: 11% Four for Texas (1963)

Birthday: Aug 9, 1918

Birthplace: Cranston, Rhode Island, USA

An artistic maverick whose reputation in the United States did not match his prestige in Europe, Robert Aldrich directed some of Hollywood's more intense examinations of violence, morality, and survival during the 1950s and '60s. Scion of a prominent New England family, Aldrich played football and studied economics at the University of Virginia. Rather than enter the family businesses, however, Aldrich preferred movies. Securing a job at RKO through connections, Aldrich headed to Hollywood in 1941. Benefiting from the shortage of manpower (and an old injury) with the advent of WWII, Aldrich was quickly promoted to assistant director and production manager. At RKO and independent Enterprise Studios, and as a free agent, Aldrich spent the next decade working for a number of esteemed directors, including Lewis Milestone, Joseph Losey, Robert Rossen, Abraham Polonsky, and Charlie Chaplin, learning about moviemaking on such films as Force of Evil (1948), Body and Soul (1947), and Limelight (1952). Branching out into TV directing in the early '50s, including the China Smith series starring Dan Duryea, Aldrich got his chance at feature directing with sports programmer The Big Leaguer (1953), starring Edward G. Robinson. Following this inauspicious debut with more TV work, Aldrich shot the low-budget spy thriller World for Ransom (1954) with much of the China Smith crew and star Duryea during the series' break. Aldrich finally broke out of TV and B-movies when Burt Lancaster's company, Hecht-Lancaster, hired the promising director (and erstwhile employee) to helm the Technicolor A-Western Apache (1954). Apache became Aldrich's first hit, and Lancaster and Aldrich re-teamed for the more expansive SuperScope Western Vera Cruz (1954). Despite American critical disdain, Vera Cruz was an even bigger hit, giving Aldrich carte blanche to make his next film as he wished. Asked by producer Victor Saville to adapt one of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer novels, Aldrich transformed Kiss Me Deadly (1955) into a film noir masterpiece of moral relativism and anarchic style. Starring Ralph Meeker as an unabashedly thuggish Hammer, Kiss Me Deadly evoked Cold War paranoia in its story about chasing down the Great Whatsit, while Aldrich's extreme lighting, high- and low-angle shots, moving camera, and creative soundtrack enhanced the chaotic, apocalyptic atmosphere. Though not as popular as Vera Cruz, Kiss Me Deadly was successful enough to enable Aldrich to form his own production company, Associates and Aldrich. Turning to headier source material, Aldrich then adapted Clifford Odets' scathing play The Big Knife. Shot in noir-esque black-and-white, The Big Knife (1955) unstintingly portrayed the Hollywood venality that breaks Jack Palance's reluctant movie star. A critical hit, The Big Knife won the Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion, a then-rare accolade for a filmmaker with less than three years' experience of directing films. Regardless of his exalted status, The Big Knife's financial failure compelled Aldrich to sign a contract with Columbia. Moving away from his controversial screen brutality, Aldrich made the "classy soap opera" Autumn Leaves (1956). Centering on Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson's troubled May-December romance, Autumn Leaves garnered Aldrich the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Returning to the troubled realm of masculine violence, Aldrich turned out the taut antiwar war film Attack (1956), featuring Palance and Lee Marvin; Attack collected the critics' award at Venice. Aldrich's deal with Columbia fell apart, however, when he was fired during production of The Garment Jungle (1957). Aldrich later summed up the period 1958 to 1962 as "four bad films and the dissolution of a marriage." While not blameless for the films' weaknesses, Aldrich was upset when The Angry Hills (1959) and Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) were reedited by the studio; oddball Western The Last Sunset (1961), starring Kirk Douglas as a disturbed gunfighter,

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet ... All the Marbles Director 1981
50% The Frisco Kid Director Actor 1979
44% The Choirboys Director 1977
80% Twilight's Last Gleaming Director 1977
63% Hustle Director Producer 1975
79% The Longest Yard Director 1974
63% Emperor of the North Pole (Emperor of the North) Director 1973
90% Ulzana's Raid Director Producer 1972
46% The Grissom Gang Director Producer 1971
57% Too Late the Hero Producer Director Screenwriter 1970
No Score Yet What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? Producer 1969
71% The Killing of Sister George Director Producer 1968
No Score Yet The Legend of Lylah Clare Producer Director 1968
85% The Dirty Dozen Screenwriter Director 1967
90% The Flight of the Phoenix Director Producer 1965
82% Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte Producer Director 1964
11% Four for Texas Screenwriter 1963
50% Sodom and Gomorrah Director 1963
92% What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Director Producer 1962
No Score Yet The Last Sunset Director 1961
No Score Yet The Angry Hills Director 1959
No Score Yet Ten Seconds to Hell Screenwriter Director 1959
No Score Yet The Garment Jungle Director 1957
100% Attack Producer Director 1956
89% Autumn Leaves Director 1956
88% The Big Knife Director Producer 1955
98% Kiss Me Deadly Director Producer 1955
83% Vera Cruz Director 1954
78% Apache Director 1954
No Score Yet World for Ransom Director Producer 1954
No Score Yet Big Leaguer Director 1953
No Score Yet The Big Night Ringside Fight Fan 1951


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