Andre Detoth


Director
Andre Detoth

About

Also Known As
Endre Toth, Sasvrai Farkasfalvi Tothfalusi Toth Endre Antal Mihaly, Andreas Toth
Birth Place
Hungary
Born
May 15, 1913
Died
October 27, 2002
Cause of Death
Aneurysm

Biography

Born and raised in Hungary, Andre de Toth came to the USA in the 1940s and became established as a workmanlike director whose films, notably his Westerns and films noir, were later hailed for their moody, psychological aspects. A genuinely colorful character, the one-eyed helmer has proven evasive in interviews, particularly in relation to his early life and career and his marriage to sc...

Family & Companions

Veronica Lake
Wife
Married on December 17, 1944; separated in 1951; divorced in June 1952.
Ann Green
Wife
Screenwriter.

Bibliography

"De Toth on de Toth: Putting the Drama in Front of the Camera: Conversations with Anthony Slide"
Faber and Faber (1996)
"Fragments: Portraits From the Inside"
Andre de Toth (1995)

Notes

"My birthdate changes between 1900 and 1920 according to different publications, but the fact remains I was born. The truth is, I don't remember the event. I was told by a reliable source that it was 1913, May 15, in Hungary." --de Toth

On his uncredited work on "Superman", de Toth told Anthony Slide: "They earned the Oscars and I walked away with the best: happy memories."

Biography

Born and raised in Hungary, Andre de Toth came to the USA in the 1940s and became established as a workmanlike director whose films, notably his Westerns and films noir, were later hailed for their moody, psychological aspects. A genuinely colorful character, the one-eyed helmer has proven evasive in interviews, particularly in relation to his early life and career and his marriage to screen siren Veronica Lake. The son of a former Hussar turned civil engineer, de Toth disappointed his father by being asked to leave a number of schools and then by deciding not to pursue a military career. Instead, he allegedly showed an early artistic bent, having a one-person art show while in his early teens (he claims to have destroyed the paintings and sculpture). His first play is said to have closed before it opened but led to a meeting with playwright Ferenc Molnar who served as a mentor, introducing de Toth to various high profile individuals and obtaining writing assignments for the youth. After obtaining a law degree, de Toth reportedly entered the Hungarian film industry, working as a camera operator for noted cinematographer Istvan (Stefan) Eiben. During the 1930s, he reportedly lived throughout Europe and visited the USA on several occasions. While in London, de Toth worked in several capacities for the Korda brothers before heading to Vienna to work on a script. On one of his trips to Los Angeles, he claims to have done uncredited work on the script for 1937's "The Life of Emile Zola."

Returning to Budapest, de Toth began his directing career in earnest under the name Endre Toth, making five films in less than one year. His first "Toprini nasz/Wedding at Toprin" caught the attention of Harry Cohn at Columbia but it would be several years before de Toth was ready to move permanently to the USA. Although there have been allegations that he made films of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, it has not been proven. What is known is that de Toth returned to London and worked for the Korda brothers, often as a production assistant and/or second unit director, although he only received onscreen credit for his work on 1942's "The Jungle Book." He finally arrived in Hollywood in 1943 and entered the American film industry as helmer of "Passport to Suez," a well-made piece of propaganda about the Nazis wanting to bomb the Suez Canal. Harry Cohn put the director under contract for one film and the result, "None Shall Escape" (1944), was a taut drama about a Nazi officer made to examine his career. It was "Ramrod" (1947), though, that first brought him widespread attention. A Western drama featuring Veronica Lake, Charles Ruggles and Joel McCrea, it was acclaimed for its spectacular black-and-white photography (by Russell Harlan) and for its strong cast. The film also established what has come to be perceived as the major theme that runs through nearly all of de Toth's work: the vagaries of human relationships.

De Toth scored again with "Pitfall" (1948) which turned on a bored insurance salesman who embarks on an affair that threatens everything he holds important. Again, the director showed a particular affinity with his actors, eliciting fine portrayals from leads Dick Powell, Jane Wyatt and Lizbeth Scott and supporting actor Raymond Burr. De Toth shared a 1950 Oscar nomination with William Bowers for Best Original Motion Picture Story for "The Gunfighter" (1950), a superb character study of a killer trying to live down his past. (De Toth, however, objected to the casting of leading man Gregory Peck claiming the role was created with Gary Cooper in mind.) In 1951, he made the first of six fine Westerns with Randolph Scott, "Man in the Saddle." He finally realized his dream of directing his friend Cooper in "Springfield Rifle" (1952), but contemporary critics were dismissive of the results.

"House of Wax" (1953), on the other hand, was praised by reviewers. The one-eyed de Toth was a curious choice to helm a 3-D film as he could not experience the stereoscopic process, but he persevered and the film was the most successful 3-D movies of its day (It also introduced Vincent Price to the genre with which he would become indelibly linked.) De Toth followed with a series of fast-paced thrillers, the best of which is "Crime Wave" (1954), a hostage drama raised a notch by the acting of Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson and Phyllis Kirk. "The Indian Fighter" (1955) was the first film produced by Kirk Douglas and offered the star a strong role as an army scout. De Toth brought a steady hand to the proceedings, earning notice for depicting the Native Americans with more depth than contemporary directors.

Turning to social problems, de Toth directed the stark drama about drug addiction "Monkey on My Back" (1957), loosely drawn from the life of boxer Barney Ross. After helming the well-received "Day of the Outlaw" (1959) and the disappointing "Man on a String" (1960), the director decamped to Italy where he oversaw a number of forgettable films. During this European sojourn, de Toth took time to work as an uncredited "consultant" on David Lean's spectacular "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962). The exact nature of his contributions remains murky; de Toth says he "found locations," but conceded he shot some footage, although how much of his work found its way into the final cut is unknown. After a near-fatal 1964 skiing accident, he slowed his output. Reportedly, de Toth worked as a second unit director on one or more of the James Bond films and wrote and produced "Billion Dollar Baby" (1967, directed by Ken Russell) for Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli. After replacing Rene Clement on the above-average "Play Dirty" (1968), he more or less retired from active filmmaking. De Toth produced "El Condor" (1970) and then offered uncredited assistance on numerous projects (including staging the flying sequences of 1978's "Superman" and as a script doctor on 1980's "The Lion of the Desert"). With the awarding of the 1995 life achievement prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the publication of his memoirs, "Fragments: Portraits From the Inside," de Toth began to receive his due for his economical and entertaining body of work.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Mongols (1966)
Director
Gold for the Caesars (1964)
Director
Oro Per I Cesari (1962)
Director
Morgan the Pirate (1961)
Supervisor Director
Man on a String (1960)
Director
The Two-Headed Spy (1959)
Director
Day of the Outlaw (1959)
Director
Monkey on My Back (1957)
Director
Hidden Fear (1957)
Director
The Indian Fighter (1955)
Director
Crime Wave (1954)
Director
Tanganyika (1954)
Director
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
Director
Riding Shotgun (1954)
Director
Thunder Over the Plains (1953)
Director
The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953)
Director
House of Wax (1953)
Director
Last of the Comanches (1953)
Director
Springfield Rifle (1952)
Director
Carson City (1952)
Director
Man in the Saddle (1951)
Director
Slattery's Hurricane (1949)
Director
Pitfall (1948)
Director
The Other Love (1947)
Director
Ramrod (1947)
Director
None Shall Escape (1944)
Director
Dark Waters (1944)
Director
Passport to Suez (1943)
Director
Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1942)
2nd Unit Director
Ket Lany Az Utcan (1939)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Forever Hollywood (1999)
Himself
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)
Himself
Spontaneous Combustion (1989)

Writer (Feature Film)

Morgan the Pirate (1961)
Screenwriter
Hidden Fear (1957)
Original story and Screenplay
The Gunfighter (1950)
Story

Producer (Feature Film)

El Condor (1970)
Producer
Play Dirty (1969)
Producer
Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
Executive Producer

Visual Effects (Feature Film)

Since You Went Away (1944)
Montage

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Forever Hollywood (1999)
Other
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)
Other
Gangland (1987)
Assistant

Life Events

1931

Entered Hungarian film industry (date approximate)

1937

First film as screenwriter ("from story"), "Falu rossza/Evil Village"

1939

Directed five Hungarian features credited as Endre Toth; the first, "Toprini nasz/Wedding in Toprin"

1939

Moved to England

1942

Relocated to Los Angeles

1943

Hollywood directing debut, "Passport to Suez"

1944

Signed to a one picture contract with Columbia; helmed the war drama "None Shall Escape"

1947

Joined Enterprise Productions

1947

Directed first Western, "Ramrod", starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake

1948

Sued by Columbia for nonpayment of part of his salary paid by Warner Bros; amount in question was roughly $1,400; under terms of his contract, de Toth had to pay Columbia a percentage of any salaries he earned on loan-outs

1950

Shared Oscar nomination with William Bowers for the Best Motion Picture Story for "The Gunfighter"

1951

First of six films with Randolph Scott, the Western "Man in the Saddle"

1953

Helmed "House of Wax", a 3-D remake of "Mystery of the Wax Museum"; first horror role for Vincent Price

1957

Directed the drug addiction drama "Monkey on My Back"

1962

Acted as a consultant to David Lean on "Lawrence of Arabia"; reportedly "found locations" and did uncredited 2nd unit work

1964

Seriously injured in a skiing accident

1968

Executive produced and directed "Play Dirty"; replaced Rene Clement as director

1970

Produced "El Condor", directed by John Guillermin

1976

Made film on board minehunter HMS Bronington with HRH Prince Charles of England

1978

Worked as uncredited director of the flying sequences of "Superman"; some sequences also used in "Superman II"

1980

Reportedly offered assistance on the feature "The Lion of the Desert"

Photo Collections

The Stranger Wore a Gun - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953), starring Randolph Scott in 3-D. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Morgan The Pirate (1960) - Long Live Morgan! More brisk action from Hollywood director Andre De Toth, his hero (Steve Reeves, title character) demonstrating how slaves can take a Spanish galleon, somewhere off Panama, ca. 1670, in the Italian-financed Morgan The Pirate, 1960.
Morgan The Pirate (1960) - The Beast Is English Opening from Hollywood renegades, producer Joseph E. Levine and director Andre De Toth, working in Italy, cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli, brings French Valérie Lagrange (about 18 at the time!) and her attendant Lydia Alfonsi to the slave market in Panama where the main attraction, Steve Reeves, the title character, looks buff, in Morgan The Pirate, 1960.
Morgan The Pirate (1960) - By Order Of His Excellency Broad set-piece by Hollywood veteran director Andre De Toth, working in Rome with Italian financing, as the governor (Ivo Garrani) oversees an execution in Panama, ca. 1670, his daughter (Valérie Lagrange) clearly hoping her former slave (Steve Reeves, title character) will luck out, in producer Joseph E. Levine’s Morgan The Pirate, 1960.
Morgan The Pirate (1960) - I Want These Women We meet Chelo Alonso, highly promoted in the credits, appearing in her second Italian-made feature with leading man Steve Reeves, as barmaid Consuela, beholden apparently to pirate L’Olannais (Armand Mestral), who receives the hero, with his new pirate crew, in time to rescue hostages Valérie Lagrange and Lydia Alfonso, in Morgan The Pirate, 1960.
Stranger Wore A Gun, The (1953) - William Clarke Quantrill The narrated opening, James Millican as the notorious semi-Confederate raider William Clarke Quantrill, we meet top-billed Randolph Scott as his not-overly conscientious spy Jeff Travis, and director Andre De Toth provides action for the original 3-D production, in The Stranger Wore A Gun, 1953.
Stranger Wore A Gun, The (1953) - You Ride A Careless Horse Seeking refuge in Prescott, Arizona, after facilitating a massacre with Quantrill’s Raiders in Kansas, Travis (Randolph Scott) meets goons (including Lee Marvin, and Ernest Borgnine in his first movie!) who report to slippery Mourret (George Macready) in The Stranger Wore A Gun, 1953.
Stranger Wore A Gun, The (1953) - Thieves, Cutthroats And Murderers Fleeing on a riverboat after unintentionally abetting William Clarke Quantrill’s historic Lawrence (Kansas) Massacre, Travis (Randolph Scott) plays cards with Josie (Claire Trevor, her first scene) and it becomes clear he’s been tracked down, Andre De Toth directing, in the originally 3-D The Stranger Wore A Gun, 1953.
House Of Wax (1953) - It Was So Late Sue (Phyllis Kirk), failing to duck the landlady (Riza Royce), upstairs discovering her roommate can't be wakened, meeting that masked guy (Still unidentified but could-be Vincent Price), pursuit into foggy New York streets, in House Of Wax, 1953.
House Of Wax (1953) - They Always Want A Corpse Burke (Roy Roberts), believing he's successfully offed his partner in a fire and collected the insurance money, boasting for cute but conniving Cathy (Carolyn Jones), then assailed by a phantom guy (Who might be Vincent Price!), in House Of Wax, 1953.
Springfield Rifle (1952) - Form Up At The Rear! First scene for Gary Cooper as union Major Lex Kearney, not gung-ho about chasing Confederate horse thieves in the Colorado Rockies, Tennick (Philip Carey) objecting, Snow (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) obeying, early in Springfield Rifle, 1952.
Springfield Rifle (1952) - I'm Used To Being Obeyed Gary Cooper is Kearney, a former Union Major court-martialed for surrendering horses to Confederate-backed raiders, now in with that same crowd, Fess Parker as friendly Randolph, David Brian as the boss McCool, Jack Woody as cowhand Sims, in the war-espionage Western Springfield Rifle, 1952.
Pitfall (1948) - She Probably Doesn't Appeal To You Ending their day-long first encounter, including boating, married insurance man John (Dick Powell) leaves model Mona (Lizabeth Scott), from whom he was collecting ill-gotten gains, sneaks home late, then handles creepy P-I Mac (Raymond Burr), in Pitfall, 1948, directed by Andre De Toth.

Trailer

Family

Elaine Detlie
Step-Daughter
Anthony Michael de Toth III
Son
Born on October 25, 1945.
Diana de Toth
Daughter
Born on October 16, 1948.

Companions

Veronica Lake
Wife
Married on December 17, 1944; separated in 1951; divorced in June 1952.
Ann Green
Wife
Screenwriter.

Bibliography

"De Toth on de Toth: Putting the Drama in Front of the Camera: Conversations with Anthony Slide"
Faber and Faber (1996)
"Fragments: Portraits From the Inside"
Andre de Toth (1995)

Notes

"My birthdate changes between 1900 and 1920 according to different publications, but the fact remains I was born. The truth is, I don't remember the event. I was told by a reliable source that it was 1913, May 15, in Hungary." --de Toth

On his uncredited work on "Superman", de Toth told Anthony Slide: "They earned the Oscars and I walked away with the best: happy memories."

De Toth's motto was "Don't be careful, have fun."

"I am interested in the most complex things I know of--people. And they're very intricate in their relationships to each other. ... Real violence has nothing to do with hardware, blowing up buildings. Real violence is from within--the violence of people, the violence of Raymond Burr in 'Pitfall'" --Andre de Toth quoted in Moviemaker, April 1998.

"I'll do something one day I'll be proud of. ... I haven't really lived up to what I would like to do. Not yet." --de Toth in his 80s, quoted in Moviemaker, April 1998.