William Friedkin

William Friedkin

Highest Rated: 98% The French Connection (1971)

Lowest Rated: 0% Good Times (1967)

Birthday: Aug 29, 1935

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

One of New Hollywood's most successful wunderkinder in the early '70s, William Friedkin suffered a precipitous fall from the box-office firmament in the late '70s, punctuated by the controversial cop film Cruising (1980). Nevertheless, Friedkin managed to keep his career alive, while the lasting impact of seminal horror film The Exorcist (1973) was confirmed by its enormously successful reissue in 2000. Raised in a Chicago slum, the young Friedkin fell in with a bad crowd, but his mother set him straight and Friedkin finished high school. Unable to afford college, Friedkin got a job in the mailroom at Chicago's WGN TV station. A budding cinephile who especially loved Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1952), Friedkin's ambition to become a director was stoked by his first viewing of Citizen Kane (1941) while working at WGN. By his early twenties, Friedkin was directing live television and making documentaries. After spending the '50s helming, in his own estimation, over 2,000 TV programs, Friedkin made a splash on the film festival circuit in the early '60s with his documentary The People vs. Paul Crump (1962), garnering several festival prizes and the eventual commutation of the title subject's death sentence. Producer David L. Wolper offered Friedkin a job in Hollywood and Friedkin headed west in 1965. After making several documentaries for Wolper and directing episodes of TV's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Friedkin broke into fiction features with the Sonny Bono and Cher vehicle Good Times (1967). Though Good Times was not a success, the brash tyro was tapped to direct the Norman Lear-scripted vaudeville period piece The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968). Despite moments of charm, The Night They Raided Minsky's did not popularly justify its then-generous budget. Nevertheless, Friedkin forged ahead with adaptations of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (1968) and Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band (1970). While neither lived up to Friedkin's movie prodigy reputation, The Boys in the Band distinguished itself as the first Hollywood movie exclusively about gay men. On the verge of never living up to his press, Friedkin took to heart his then-potential father-in-law Howard Hawks' comments about making crowd-pleasing action pictures rather than arty, psychological studies. Cutting any scenes that slowed the pace, and returning to his documentary roots, Friedkin adapted the true crime best-seller The French Connection (1971) with streetwise élan. Shot on location in New York City with documentary-style mobile cameras, The French Connection was at once a timely story about cynical cops as brutal as their drug dealer prey -- complete with star Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle mercilessly shooting a man in the back -- and a thrilling action movie. The French Connection became a critically acclaimed hit, influencing the look of cop movies and TV series for years to come. Earning eight Oscar nominations, The French Connection went on to win the awards for Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director, turning age-fudging Friedkin into the youngest winner to date. Friedkin's documentary experience, as well as the infamous attitude that prompted more than one wag to call him "Wild Billy," also convinced author William Peter Blatty that he could do justice to the potentially difficult adaptation of Blatty's best-selling Satanic possession thriller The Exorcist (1973). Though the production went over schedule and budget, and was plagued by mysterious accidents, The Exorcist handsomely rewarded the effort when it debuted during the 1973 Christmas season to long lines and eager crowds. Combining a starkly realist view of the supernatural with unprecedented, stomach-churning special effects and a barely veiled terror of feminine sexuality, The Exorcist reportedly caused audience members to wretch and faint, going on to break box-office records and spawn a horror revival. Though The Exorcist earned ten Oscar nomi


Highest Rated Movies



85% Friedkin Uncut Actor 2019
92% Leap of Faith Actor 2019
44% The Devil and Father Amorth Screenwriter Director Actor 2018
73% Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles Actor $9.3K 2014
90% A Fuller Life Actor 2014
79% Killer Joe Director $1.9M 2012
No Score Yet The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style Actor 2011
95% Making the Boys Actor $33.9K 2010
No Score Yet 40 X 15 Actor 2008
No Score Yet The Man Who Shot Chinatown: The Life and Work of John A. Alonzo Actor 2007
62% Bug Director $7.1M 2006
29% The Hunted Director $34.2M 2003
88% Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen Director $38.7M 2000
36% Rules of Engagement Director 2000
92% 12 Angry Men Director 1997
No Score Yet Howard Hawks: American Artist Actor 1997
14% Jade Director 1995
37% Blue Chips Director 1994
22% The Guardian Screenwriter Director 1990
44% Rampage Screenwriter Producer Director 1988
No Score Yet Barbra Streisand: Putting it Together - The Making of "The Broadway Album" Director 1986
91% To Live and Die in L.A. Screenwriter Director 1985
11% Deal of the Century Director Screenwriter 1983
49% Cruising Director Screenwriter 1980
75% The Brink's Job Director 1978
79% Sorcerer Director Producer 1977
84% The Exorcist Director 1973
98% The French Connection Director 1971
89% The Boys in the Band Director 1970
No Score Yet The Night They Raided Minsky's (The Night They Invented Striptease) Director 1968
No Score Yet The Birthday Party Director 1968
0% Good Times Director 1967
No Score Yet The People Vs. Paul Crump Director Producer 1962


85% The Simpsons
Voice 2017
No Score Yet CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Director 2009
82% Tales from the Crypt
Director 1992


No quotes approved yet.