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Overview for Arthur Hiller
Arthur Hiller

Arthur Hiller



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Also Known As: Alan Smithee Died:
Born: November 22, 1923 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Edmonton, Alberta, CA Profession: Director ... director producer actor


Canadian-born director Arthur Hiller began in radio and, after a brief stint helming TV on his home shores, moved to the USA where he quickly established himself directing both live and film series like "Playhouse 90," "Gunsmoke" and "Naked City," for which he received a 1962 Emmy nomination. He made an auspicious feature debut at the helm of the teen flick, "The Careless Years" (1957), starring Dean Stockwell, but did not return to the big screen until 1963 ("Miracle of the White Stallions" and "The Wheeler Dealers"). Although he has worked in a variety of genres, from the dramatic ("The Man in the Glass Booth" 1974) to the romantic ("Love Story" 1970), Hiller has shown his greatest facility with light comedy, working equally well with writers like Neil Simon ("The Out-of-Towners" 1970, "Plaza Suite" 1971), Andrew Bergman ("The In-Laws" 1979), Israel Horowitz ("Author! Author!" 1982) and Leslie Dixon ("Outrageous Fortune" 1987). However, two of his best movies, the unjustly neglected "The Americanization of Emily" (1964) and the bleak satire "The Hospital" (1971), both scripted by Paddy Chayefsky, were notably dark films.

No Hiller film did better at the box office than "Love Story," which is a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time. Capably directed, "Love Story" had little to distinguish it beyond its surface gloss. In fact this may be said of much of Hiller's work, though tagging it as "non-descript" may do the director disservice. Hiller gets his movies done on time, on budget, and at their best, they are fast-paced engaging affairs, but since the misfires have multiplied in later years (e.g., "Making Love" 1982, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" 1989, "Married to It" 1991), one has to admit he has not lived up to his early promise, failing to grow beyond a yeomanly TV-like efficiency. Not only was life imitating art when he took his name off "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn" (1997), but the fight over artistic control with writer Joe Eszterhas also recalled "The Man in the Glass Booth" when writer Robert Shaw removed his name from that film protesting the finished Hiller product. He served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1993 to 1997.

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