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Arthur Penn

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Also Known As: Died: September 29, 2010
Born: September 27, 1922 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: director, producer, floor manager, screenwriter, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Arthur Penn proved himself a true triple threat during his career, achieving extraordinary success as a director of live television dramas, Broadway plays and feature films. Like Sidney Lumet and John Frankenheimer, he owed a huge debt to the crucible of television's Golden Age, but it was director Elia Kazan he resembled most in his sympathy for actors, the flights of fancy he allowed, and the incredible range of expression he elicited in films like "The Miracle Worker" (1962), "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) and "Little Big Man" (1970). Penn understood the poetry of close-up camera work, acknowledging that words were to the theater what actions were for film. His use of lighting and sound were stylistically and intellectually sophisticated, but ultimately it was his themes which propelled his pictures. No other director during the volatile 1960s had his finger so securely on America's pulse, and audiences responded enthusiastically to his exploration of the relationship between outsiders and mainstream society, even though his sympathies always seemed to lie invariably with the outcasts.

Arthur Penn proved himself a true triple threat during his career, achieving extraordinary success as a director of live television dramas, Broadway plays and feature films. Like Sidney Lumet and John Frankenheimer, he owed a huge debt to the crucible of television's Golden Age, but it was director Elia Kazan he resembled most in his sympathy for actors, the flights of fancy he allowed, and the incredible range of expression he elicited in films like "The Miracle Worker" (1962), "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) and "Little Big Man" (1970). Penn understood the poetry of close-up camera work, acknowledging that words were to the theater what actions were for film. His use of lighting and sound were stylistically and intellectually sophisticated, but ultimately it was his themes which propelled his pictures. No other director during the volatile 1960s had his finger so securely on America's pulse, and audiences responded enthusiastically to his exploration of the relationship between outsiders and mainstream society, even though his sympathies always seemed to lie invariably with the outcasts.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Inside (1996) Director
2.
  Lumiere Et Compagnie (1996) Featured Director
3.
  The Portrait (1993) Director
4.
5.
  Dead Of Winter (1987) Director
6.
  Target (1985) Director
7.
  Four Friends (1981) Director
8.
  The Missouri Breaks (1976) Director
9.
  Night Moves (1975) Director
10.
  Visions of Eight (1973) Director ("The Highest")

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Hello Actors Studio (1988) Himself
3.
 Brando (Part 1) (2007)
4.
 Brando (Part 2) (2007)
5.
 Hometown Heroes (1998) Interviewee
6.
7.
 Nichols and May -- Take Two (1996) Interviewee
8.
10.
 Marlon Brando, Wild One (1994) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked for local radio station in Philadelphia, PA
1943:
Served in U.S. Army during WWII
:
Formed dramatic group in Fort Jackson, SC; while in military service met future associate, producer Fred Coe
1945:
Joined U.S. Army's Soldier Show Company (headed by Joshua Logan; members included Mickey Rooney and Paddy Chayefsky)
:
Spent two years studying literature at Italian colleges
1951:
Began working at NBC-TV in NYC as floor manager on the "Colgate Comedy Hour"; worked his way up to assistant director; moved to Los Angeles when show relocated there
1953:
Invited to New York by Fred Coe to direct "Gulf Playhouse: 1st Person" (NBC)
:
Began writing and directing TV dramas for "Philco Television Playhouse" (NBC)
1955:
Staged a production of James Leo Herlihy's "Blue Denim" for summer stock company in Westport, CT
1956:
Moved to CBS, where he directed for "Playhouse 90"
1956:
Made inauspicious Broadway debut, directing "The Lovers"; closed after only four days
1957:
Helmed William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" for "Playhouse 90"
1958:
Directed Gibson's "Two for the Seesaw" on Broadway; starred Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft; earned a Tony nomination
1958:
Made feature directorial debut, "The Left-Handed Gun"; produced by Coe
1960:
Won a Tony directing Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in the Broadway version of "The Miracle Worker"
1960:
Earned a Tony nomination for directing "All the Way Home"
1962:
Adapted "The Miracle Worker" for the big screen; re-teamed with Bancroft and Duke; earned first Academy Award nomination as Best Director
1965:
Produced and directed "Mickey One," starring Warren Beatty
1966:
Directed Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda in "The Chase"
1967:
Earned second Academy Award nomination for directing "Bonnie and Clyde"; re-teamed with Beatty (who also produced); first of six collaborations with editor Dede Allen
1969:
Co-wrote (with Venable Herndon) and directed "Alice's Restaurant"; received third Academy Award nomination for Best Director
1970:
Presented view of the American West where the Indians were the good guys in "Little Big Man"
1973:
Directed one section of the eight-director documentary on the 1972 Munich Olympics, "Visions of Eight"; his segment, "The Highest" dealt with pole-vaulting
1975:
Directed "Night Moves," featuring Gene Hackman
1976:
Directed George C. Scott in "Sly Fox" on Broadway
1977:
Returned to Broadway as director of "Golda," starring Anne Bancroft as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir
1981:
Produced and directed "Four Friends" from an autobiographical script by Steve Tesich
1985:
Third film with Hackman, "Target"
1987:
Directed Ron Silver and Dianne Wiest in "Hunting Cockroaches" for NYC's Manhattan Theatre Club
1989:
Helmed last feature film, "Penn and Teller Get Killed"
1995:
Contributed to the omnibus project, "Lumiere and Company"
1996:
Directed the Showtime movie "Inside," about the excesses of apartheid in South Africa
2000:
Became an executive producer on NBC's "Law & Order"
2002:
Returned to stage to direct "Fortune's Fool" with Alan Bates and Frank Langella
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Olney High School: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -
University of Perugia: -
University of Florence: -
Actors Studio: Los Angeles , California -
Black Mountain College: Ashville , North Carolina - 1947 - 1949

Notes

"I would say that the only people who really interest me are the outcasts from society. The people who are not outcasts--either psychologically, emotionally, or physically--seem to me good material for selling breakfast food, but they're not material for films. What I'm really trying to say through the figure of the outcast is that society has its mirror in its outcasts. A society would be wise to pay attention to the people who do not belong if it wants to find out what its configuration is and where it's failing." --Arthur Penn, quoted in "World Film Directors, Volume Two", edited by John Wakeman

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Peggy Maurer. Family therapist. Married on January 27, 1955.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harry Penn. Owned a small watch-repair business; divorced Penn's mother c. 1926; died in 1943.
mother:
Sonia Penn. Nurse.
brother:
Irving Penn. Photographer. Older.
son:
Matthew Penn. Director. Born in 1959; has directed numerous episodes of "Law & Order".
daughter:
Molly Penn. Born in 1964.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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