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John Mcnaughton

John Mcnaughton

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Also Known As: John D. Mcnaughton Died:
Born: January 13, 1949 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: director, producer, writer, composer, jewelry maker, silversmith, shipbuilder, factory worker, traveling carnival pitchman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A talented independent filmmaker whose bleak, chilling vision of society has garnered him considerable critical praise, John McNaughton has also engendered at least an equal amount of controversy. His first feature film, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," was not distributed for over three years after its completion in 1986--partly as a result of its precarious financial provenance, but also because of its relentless but nonjudgmental examination of the pathology of the real-life Henry Lee Lucas. "Henry" was the first film over which a production company sued the MPPA for the X rating it received. Eventually, McNaughton's powerful and insightful if extremely unnerving film, with its final shooting cost of only $120,000, became a cult hit on the art house circuit and even made the annual "Top 10" lists of TIME, USA TODAY and the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.McNaughton formed a solid working partnership with producer Steven A. Jones on "Henry," and their subsequent films continued to explore the nature of violence, passion and greed. The sci-fi thriller "The Borrower" (1991) was notable for the grisly, deadpan humor added to the tale of an alien, stranded on Earth, who must replace his regularly exploding head...

A talented independent filmmaker whose bleak, chilling vision of society has garnered him considerable critical praise, John McNaughton has also engendered at least an equal amount of controversy. His first feature film, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," was not distributed for over three years after its completion in 1986--partly as a result of its precarious financial provenance, but also because of its relentless but nonjudgmental examination of the pathology of the real-life Henry Lee Lucas. "Henry" was the first film over which a production company sued the MPPA for the X rating it received. Eventually, McNaughton's powerful and insightful if extremely unnerving film, with its final shooting cost of only $120,000, became a cult hit on the art house circuit and even made the annual "Top 10" lists of TIME, USA TODAY and the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

McNaughton formed a solid working partnership with producer Steven A. Jones on "Henry," and their subsequent films continued to explore the nature of violence, passion and greed. The sci-fi thriller "The Borrower" (1991) was notable for the grisly, deadpan humor added to the tale of an alien, stranded on Earth, who must replace his regularly exploding head with those of humans. McNaughton's rendition of performance artist Eric Bogosian's one-man off-Broadway show, "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll" (1991), shot in just four days, emphasized the grubbiness and cynicism of the world Bogosian portrayed. Even McNaughton's occasional TV projects, such as directing episodes of the crime series "The Street" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," the Showtime film "Girls in Prison" (1994) and the supernatural pilot "The Book" (to air in 1996), have been consistent with his film work.

In 1993, McNaughton entered the Hollywood mainstream with "Mad Dog and Glory," a relatively light drama, written by the talented Richard Price. Intriguingly cast, with Robert De Niro as a shy cop, Bill Murray as a gangster who is also a frustrated comic and Uma Thurman as the bone of contention between them, the film proved an interesting misfire. Its mix of dark comedy and sometimes whimsical drama divided critics and failed to pull in audiences used to more conventional genre fare.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Lansky (1999) Director
3.
  Condo Painting (1999) Director
4.
  Wild Things (1998) Director
5.
  Normal Life (1996) Director
6.
  Girls in Prison (1994) Director
7.
  Mad Dog and Glory (1993) Director
8.
  Borrower, The (1991) Director
9.
  Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 American Storytellers (2002) Himself
2.
 Murder By Numbers (2002) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Worked for a year in the audio-visual department of Campbell-Mithun, an ad agency in the Chicago area
:
Left his job and traveled, working along the way in various capacities as a jewelry maker, sailboat builder, carnival pitchman, among other jobs
:
Returned to Chicago and began working in video production; also handled occasional projects such as producing laser light shows and remodeling hamburger stands; met and befriended Steven A. Jones, then a producer of commercials
:
Designed an animated logo for MPI Home Video, a company formed by friends from college
:
Spent all his money on video equipment; directed a syndicated TV series on famous gangsters, narrated by Broderick Crawford and titled "Dealers in Death"
:
McNaughton and Steven A. Jones engaged by MPI Home Video to produce a low-budget horror film about a serial killer
1985:
Began co-writing the screenplay for "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" with Richard Fire
1986:
Production completed on "Henry", McNaughton's directorial debut (which he also produced and composed the score)
1987:
Arranged to make second feature film, "The Borrower", for the financially strapped Atlantic Releasing Co.
1988:
Filming on "The Borrower" completed in December two weeks after Atlantic Releasing went under
1988:
"Henry" chosen by filmmaker Errol Morris, guest director of the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, as one of his two personal picks to be screened there
:
Distribution on "The Borrower" held up after it was acquired by Cannon Pictures; exhibitor at Chicago's Music Box Theater finally offered to pay to have a print struck for his theater to use; film became modest cult success
:
Directed four episodes of the latenight TV police drama, "The Street"
1990:
"Henry" finally received (reasonably) widespread US distribution
1990:
Shot third feature film, "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll" in four days
1991:
"The Borrower" finally received (reasonably) widespread US distribution
1993:
Helmed the quirky "Mad Dog and Glory" which teamed Bill Murray and Robert De Niro
:
Directed episodes of the NBC primetime crime drama series, "Homicide: Life on the Street"
1994:
Directed first TV-movie, "Girls in Prison"
1998:
Reteamed with Murray (in a supporting role) for "Wild Things"
2001:
Helmed "Speaking of Sex"; premiered at Chicago Film Festival
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Education

University of Illinois: Urbana , Illinois - 1967 - 1972

Notes

"After two features. . . McNaughton has emerged as the most spectacularly pessimistic filmmaker to come along since the heyday of the film noir masters--Robert Aldrich, Edgar G. Ulmer, Samuel Fuller--in the 1950s." --Film critic Dave Kehr of the "CHICAGO TRIBUNE", in his review of McNaughton's second feature film, "The Borrower" (quoted in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 1, 1991)

McNaughton's longtime collaborator, producer Steven A. Jones, has noted that "Both of us share a cynicism in the way we look at the world. We don't celebrate the darker side of humanity, but we are interested in it." McNaughton, too, is aware of this interest and that it might not be to everyone's taste. Speaking about "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer", he noted, "I figured they'd either flock to our door or put us in jail." (Quoted in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 1, 1991)

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