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Allan Dwan

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Also Known As: Joseph Aloysius Dwan Died: December 21, 1981
Born: April 3, 1885 Cause of Death: complications from a stroke
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario, CA Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, editor, scenario editor, lighting engineer, production supervisor, professor, football coach

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Dwan's first job was as a lighting engineer for the Peter Cooper Hewitt Company, where he helped develop a forerunner of the neon tube known as the mercury vapor arc. He became intrigued by "those silly things called movies" while supervising the installation of some arcs at Essanay studios, asked about the stories the filmmakers used, and proceeded to sell them 15 he had written at college. Essanay then offered him a job as scenario editor.Dwan's career spanned the history of American motion pictures, from the days of silent one-reelers to modern Technicolor features that utilized some of the cinematic techniques whose use he had pioneered. By his own estimate, Dwan participated in the making of 1,850 films, some 400 of these as a director. (Only a few of his works remain extant.)In 1911 he moved to the American Film Company, where he got the opportunity to direct when the person originally given the assignment was discovered drunk. Dwan made more than 250 films there, mostly one- reel westerns, which he later recalled "the actors showed me how to direct."It was Dwan's engineering skills that were particularly useful to him: he is credited with mounting a camera on a car and inventing the dolly...

Dwan's first job was as a lighting engineer for the Peter Cooper Hewitt Company, where he helped develop a forerunner of the neon tube known as the mercury vapor arc. He became intrigued by "those silly things called movies" while supervising the installation of some arcs at Essanay studios, asked about the stories the filmmakers used, and proceeded to sell them 15 he had written at college. Essanay then offered him a job as scenario editor.

Dwan's career spanned the history of American motion pictures, from the days of silent one-reelers to modern Technicolor features that utilized some of the cinematic techniques whose use he had pioneered. By his own estimate, Dwan participated in the making of 1,850 films, some 400 of these as a director. (Only a few of his works remain extant.)

In 1911 he moved to the American Film Company, where he got the opportunity to direct when the person originally given the assignment was discovered drunk. Dwan made more than 250 films there, mostly one- reel westerns, which he later recalled "the actors showed me how to direct."

It was Dwan's engineering skills that were particularly useful to him: he is credited with mounting a camera on a car and inventing the dolly shot. He proposed the construction of a rail system on the set of Griffith's "Intolerance" and years later developed techniques for on-set sound recording.

In 1913 Dwan joined Universal, where he worked with Lon Chaney and met his first wife, Pauline Bush. Later that decade he began making films with Douglas Fairbanks and Gloria Swanson.

Although he made a successful transition to sound, Dwan was relegated for a number of years to the directing of programmers at Fox. Despite his commercial success with several Shirley Temple films, most of his work was confined to the grind of B pictures. He may have been comfortable with this, as he later remarked: "If you get your head up above the mob, they try to knock it off. If you stay down, you last forever."

Dwan later went to work at Republic, where his "The Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949) helped make John Wayne the mythic American war-hero. Dwan described the old Hollywood this way: "Years ago we had no supervision. We made pictures our own way. We pleased nobody but ourselves and the public."

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Enchanted Island (1958) Director
3.
  The Restless Breed (1957) Director
4.
  The River's Edge (1957) Director
5.
  Slightly Scarlet (1956) Director
6.
  Hold Back the Night (1956) Director
7.
8.
  Escape to Burma (1955) Director
9.
  Tennessee's Partner (1955) Director
10.
  Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 This Is Korea! (1951) Narrator
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Immigrated to USA while still in school
1911:
Film directing debut, "Brandishing a Bad Man"
1915:
First used dolly shot in "David Harum"

Education

University of Notre Dame: Notre Dame , Indiana - 1907

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Pauline Bush. Actor. Married in 1915; divorced in 1921.
wife:
Marie Shelton. Married from 1922 until her death in 1954.

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