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Walter Hill

Walter Hill

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Also Known As: Thomas Lee, Walter Wesley Hill Died:
Born: January 10, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Long Beach, California, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, producer, assistant director, construction worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An auteur in every sense of the word, director Walter Hill took the baton passed him by Sam Peckinpah and became a specialist in the archetypal male action movie, reveling in the artifice of the genre, while at the same time, straining against its constraints. Strongly influenced by John Ford and Howard Hawks - he once claimed every film he had ever made was a Western - he allowed action to define character, believing "there is nothing more absurd than properly motivated characters," and concentrated on creating stunning visual spectacle through experiments in lighting, montage, composition and camera angles. For Hill, violence in varying degrees of stylization provided the stamp of macho gesture; women were extensions of the male world, exhibiting testosterone toughness and masculine meanness; and "home" illuminated a path for those who had lost their way. His pictures reflected a fascination with myth-making and myth-breaking and, at their best, transcended genre conventions.

An auteur in every sense of the word, director Walter Hill took the baton passed him by Sam Peckinpah and became a specialist in the archetypal male action movie, reveling in the artifice of the genre, while at the same time, straining against its constraints. Strongly influenced by John Ford and Howard Hawks - he once claimed every film he had ever made was a Western - he allowed action to define character, believing "there is nothing more absurd than properly motivated characters," and concentrated on creating stunning visual spectacle through experiments in lighting, montage, composition and camera angles. For Hill, violence in varying degrees of stylization provided the stamp of macho gesture; women were extensions of the male world, exhibiting testosterone toughness and masculine meanness; and "home" illuminated a path for those who had lost their way. His pictures reflected a fascination with myth-making and myth-breaking and, at their best, transcended genre conventions.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Undisputed (2001) Director
3.
  Supernova (2000) Director
4.
  Last Man Standing (1996) Director
5.
  Wild Bill (1995) Director
6.
7.
  Trespass (1992) Director
8.
  Another 48 Hrs. (1990) Director
9.
  Johnny Handsome (1989) Director
10.
  Red Heat (1988) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Launched film career when a friend (who was a subcontractor at Brittanica Films) asked him to research historical re-enactments
1968:
First professional credit, as 2nd assistant director on Norman Jewison's "The Thomas Crown Affair"; film starred Steve McQueen
1969:
Was 2nd assistant director on Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run"
1972:
First produced screenplays, "Hickey and Boggs" and "The Getaway"; both films starred McQueen
1973:
Received screenplay credit for John Huston's "The Mackintosh Man," starring Paul Newman
1975:
Made feature directorial debut with "Hard Times"; first collaboration with producer Lawrence Gordon
1976:
Received screenplay credit for another Newman vehicle "The Drowning Pool"
1977:
Wrote script for ABC TV movie pilot "Dog and Cat"
1977:
Credited as creator for spin-off police series "Dog and Cat"
1978:
Co-wrote and directed "The Driver," starring Ryan O'Neal as a laconic getaway driver for hire and Bruce Dern as a driven cop pursuing him
1979:
Directed "The Warriors," a story of violent street gangs which arguably became his most popular film due to its ongoing cult following; shared screenplay credit with David Shaber
1979:
First producing credit, Ridley Scott's "Alien"
1980:
Directed first Western "The Long Riders," which cast real-life acting brothers (the Keaches, Carradines, Quaids, and Guests) as historical outlaw siblings; first collaboration with musician Ry Cooder
1981:
Co-founded Phoenix Films with David Giler and Joseph Gallagher; company produced "Southern Comfort"; re-teamed with Keith Carradine
1982:
Scored big hit as co-writer and director of "48 Hrs."; starred Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in his film debut; re-teamed with producer Gordon
1984:
Co-scripted and directed rock 'n' roll fable "Streets of Fire"; flopped despite pulsating score by Cooder
1986:
Made debut as executive producer with James Cameron's "Aliens"; also credited for story
1987:
Re-teamed with Nolte for "Extreme Prejudice"
1989:
Co-executive produced HBO series "Tales From the Crypt" along with Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver, Richard Donner, and Giler; also wrote and directed several episodes
1990:
Returned to direct "Another 48 Hrs."; seventh collaboration with Gordon
1992:
Co-scripted and co-produced "Alien3," directed by David Fincher
1993:
Directed and produced (with Neil Canton) "Geronimo: An American Legend"; co-scripted by John Milius
1995:
Co-wrote and directed disappointing "Wild Bill," an odd revisionist take on Wild Bill Hickock (portrayed by Jeff Bridges)
1997:
Executive produced (along with Zemeckis, Silver, Donner, and Giler) HBO anthology series "Perversions of Science"; also directed "Dream of Doom" episode
2000:
Directed futuristic thriller "Supernova"; replaced Geoffrey Wright, who left project due to creative differences; when Francis Ford Coppola was brought in to re-cut film, he decided to credit himself with pseudonym Thomas Lee and chose not to be associated with finished product
2004:
Directed episodes of HBO drama "Deadwood"
2006:
Produced and directed AMC miniseries "Broken Trail"; earned Emmy nomination for Best Directing for a Miniseries or TV Movie
2012:
Reunited with directory Ridley Scott to produce "Prometheus"
2013:
Returned to feature directing with action thriller "Bullet to the Head," starring Sylvester Stallone
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Americas: - 1959 - 1960
Michigan State University: East Lansing , Michigan - 1963

Notes

"I very purposely--more and more so every time I do a script--give characters no back story. The way you find about these characters is by watching what they do, the way they react to stress, the way they react to situations and confrontations. In that way, character is revealed through drama rather than being explained through dialogue." --Walter Hill, quoted in David Thomson's "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (New York: Alred A Knopf, 1994)

"Walter Hill is the best person I know at managing to be a power player in the everyday grind of making a film. Michael Mann once described him to me with a phrase whose accuracy everyone who knows Walter would acknowledge: a straight shooter. An enormous number of people work together on a film and that sometimes seems like an enormous variety of provocations for making the film mediocre, turning what you work on into something you can explain equally easily to all your collaborators. The glamorous, much admired 'genius' of a director lies in his or her ability to use this collectivity or to deny or forget it at key moments. In this, the director is a political creature in a Platonic or Machiavellian sense, at once exploiter, liberator, limiter and enabler of the group, both its servant and its master. Walter gets this through his fingertips." --From "A Film Diary by Larry Gross" in SIGHT AND SOUND, October 1994

"I think every director thinks that he hasn't been allowed to make the films he wanted to make. I certainly haven't been able to make as many Westerns as I've wanted. . . .

"[But] sometimes staying alive in a career sense is very important, and you think, 'Maybe I'll do this, which will do well and allow me to do that.' It's very easy to miscalculate. It's a dangerous game. But I think in the end, none of us have anybody to blame except ourselves. It can be very hard. The kinds of things directors most want to do are usually not things the studio perceives to be commercially viable. It really is that simple. Is that true of me? Absolutely. But it's no more true of me than 50 other people I know." --Walter Hill quoted in LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 3, 1995

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Hildy Gottlieb. Producer, former agent. Mother of three children with Hill; formerly an agent with ICM.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Joanna Wesley Hill. Born in May 1987.
daughter:
Maura Joan Hill. Born in August 1988.
daughter:
Miranda Ellen Hill. Born in December 1989.

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