William Witney - Rotten Tomatoes

William Witney

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One of the kings of B-movies, William Witney is rapidly achieving recognition at the end of the 20th century as an unheralded master of the action film. Born in Lawton, OK, Witney came to movies as a messenger boy, and gradually worked his way up the ladder at Republic Pictures. In 1936, he was on the site of the location shooting for The Painted Stallion, which had run into serious shooting delays, when he was ordered to take over directing the serial; Witney finished it on time and on budget, and for the next six years was one of the studio's three most reliable makers of chapterplays, along with Spencer Bennet and John English, with whom he frequently worked.Witney's serials were all characterized by breathtaking action sequences, seamlessly mated to well-played scenes depicting character development, which accounts for the fact that they continue to play well for modern audiences. His major contribution to action films derived from his innovative way of shooting fight scenes. After watching the way that choreographer Busby Berkeley broke his dances into segments, Witney did the same with his fight scenes, breaking them into shots lasting less than two minutes before changing his set-ups and giving his stunt men a rest; in that way, they could work full-out in every shot and put that much more into their work. Witney augmented this effect by undercranking the camera slightly -- that is, running the film slightly slowed down -- so that when projected at normal speed the action seemed even more furious, and his resulting fight scenes are amazing to watch. In 1946, after a stint in the U.S. Navy, Witney returned to Republic but declined to pursue serial work. Instead, he was assigned to take over the shooting of Roy Rogers' movies, which had fallen into a rut and were in danger of losing popularity. Witney put the action back into them and brought Rogers and the studio continued success into the mid-'50s.Witney's most popular feature films are The Master of the World, starring Vincent Price and Charles Bronson, and The Bonnie Parker Story, starring Dorothy Provine, and the latter is considered something of a B-movie classic, and his exploitation movies Juvenile Jungle and The Cool and the Crazy also have cult followings. But his most enduring work, for those familiar with the genre, can be found in the Republic serials Nyoka and the Tigermen, Jungle Girl, and Spy Smasher. All of them display boundless energy and a lean, eloquent focus on character that never slows down the narrative. Although Witney himself would be the first to deny any artistic intentions, he is a master stylist within the action genre.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Stranger At My Door
  • Director
2014
No Score Yet Showdown at Eagle Gap
  • Director
1982
No Score Yet Darktown Strutters (Get Down and Boogie)
  • Director
1975
No Score Yet I Escaped from Devil's Island
  • Director
1973
No Score Yet 40 Guns to Apache Pass
  • Director
1967
No Score Yet Ride the Wind
  • Director
1966
No Score Yet Arizona Raiders
  • Director
1965
No Score Yet Apache Rifles
  • Director
1964
No Score Yet Master of the World
  • Director
1961
No Score Yet The Secret of the Purple Reef
  • Director
1960
No Score Yet Paratroop Command
  • Director
1959
No Score Yet Riverboat
  • Director
1959
No Score Yet Juvenile Jungle
  • Director
1958
No Score Yet Santa Fe Passage
  • Director
1955
No Score Yet The Outcast
  • Director
1954
No Score Yet Iron Mountain Trail
  • Director
1953
No Score Yet Colorado Sundown
  • Director
1952
No Score Yet Border Saddlemates
  • Director
1952
No Score Yet South of Caliente
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet In Old Amarillo
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet Heart of the Rockies
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet Spoilers of the Plains
  • Director
1951
No Score Yet Trail of Robin Hood
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet North of the Great Divide
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Trigger Jr.
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Twilight in the Sierras
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Bells of Coronado
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Sunset in the West
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Down Dakota Way
  • Director
1949
No Score Yet Susanna Pass
  • Director
1949
No Score Yet The Golden Stallion
  • Director
1949
No Score Yet The Far Frontier
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Grand Canyon Trail
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Night Time in Nevada
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Eyes of Texas
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Under California Stars
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet Gay Ranchero
  • Director
1948
No Score Yet On the Old Spanish Trail
  • Director
1947
No Score Yet Springtime in the Sierras
  • Director
1947
No Score Yet Bells of San Angelo
  • Director
1947
No Score Yet Apache Rose
  • Director
1947
No Score Yet The Crimson Ghost
  • Director
1946
No Score Yet Home in Oklahoma
  • Director
1946
No Score Yet Heldorado
  • Director
1946
No Score Yet Roll on Texas Moon
  • Director
1946
No Score Yet G-men vs. the Black Dragon (Black Dragons of Manzanar)
  • Director
1943
No Score Yet Spy Smasher
  • Director
1942
No Score Yet Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc.
  • Director
1941
No Score Yet Jungle Girl
  • Director
1941
No Score Yet The Adventures of Captain Marvel
  • Director
1941
No Score Yet King of the Texas Rangers
  • Director
1941
No Score Yet Down Argentine Way
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet King of the Royal Mounted
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet Adventures of Red Ryder
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet Drums of Fu Manchu
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet Mysterious Dr. Satan
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet The Lone Ranger
  • Director
1940
No Score Yet Dick Tracy's G-Men
  • Director
1939
No Score Yet Daredevils of the Red Circle
  • Director
1939
No Score Yet Daredevils of the Red Circle
  • Director
1939
No Score Yet Zorro's Fighting Legion
  • Director
1939
No Score Yet The Fighting Devil Dogs
  • Director
1938
No Score Yet The Painted Stallion
  • Director
1938
No Score Yet Dick Tracy Returns
  • Director
1938
No Score Yet Hawk of the Wilderness
  • Director
1938
No Score Yet Zorro Rides Again
  • Director
1937
No Score Yet S.O.S. Coast Guard
  • Director
1937
No Score Yet The Trigger Trio
  • Director
1937

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