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Authors: David Thomson

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The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Completely Updated and Expanded

BOOK: The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Completely Updated and Expanded
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The Moment of Psycho:
How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder
Try to Tell the Story: A Memoir
“Have You Seen …?”
Nicole Kidman
The Whole Equation:
A History of Hollywood
In Nevada:
The Land, the People, God, and Chance
The Alien Quartet
Beneath Mulholland:
Thoughts on Hollywood and Its Ghosts
Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles
Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick
Silver Light
Warren Beatty and Desert Eyes
Scott’s Men
America in the Dark
Wild Excursions:
The Life and Fiction of Laurence Sterne
Hungry as Hunters
A Bowl of Eggs
Movie Man


Copyright © 1975, 1980, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2010 by David Thomson

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Originally published in Great Britain as
A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema
by Martin, Secker & Warburg Limited, London, in 1975, and in the United States as
A Biographical Dictionary of Film
by William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, in 1976. Published in a revised second edition in Great Britain as
A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema
by Martin, Secker & Warburg Limited, London, in 1980, and as
A Biographical Dictionary of Film
by William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, in 1981. Published in a revised third edition as
A Biographical Dictionary of Film
in Great Britain by Andre Deutsch, Ltd., London, and in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 1994. Published in a revised fourth edition as
The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
in Great Britain by Little, Brown, London, and in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2002, and subsequently published in a revised and expanded version in paperback in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2004.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Thomson, David, [date]
The new biographical dictionary of film / by David Thomson.—5th ed.
p. cm.
“A Borzoi book.”
eISBN: 978-0-30759461-7
1. Motion picture actors and actresses—Biography—Dictionaries. 2. Motion pictures—Biography—Dictionaries. I. Title. II. Title: Biographical dictionary of film. III. Title: Dictionary of film.
PN1998.2.T49 2010
791.4302′8092273—dc22 2010016450


For Kate and Kieran





The year before, I had been to the cinema for the first time and seen a film about a horse. I think it was called
Black Beauty
and was based on a famous book. The film was on at the Sture cinema and we sat in the front row of the circle. To me, it was the beginning. I was overcome with a fever that has never left me. The silent shadows turned their pale faces towards me and spoke in inaudible voices to my most secret feelings. Sixty years have gone by and nothing has changed; the fever is the same.

—Ingmar Bergman,
The Magic Lantern

The great trouble is people trying to be funny. If they don’t try to be funny, then they are funny.

—Howard Hawks, talking about Katharine Hepburn and
Bringing Up Baby
, in
Hawks on Hawks


You are holding in your hands the fifth edition of a book that was first published in 1975. The book is now about one and a half times the size of the original, but still the form and nature of the book are as they were thirty-five years ago. But in 1975, the thing I called moviegoing was primitive: it was me, theatrical screens I could get to, and the television screen. Today, that cozy triangulation has been shattered first by the thing called video (which allows one to see nearly everything ever made and saved) and then, more comprehensively, by various reaches of the Web which support an infinite openness called access, or blurred seeing. Yet somehow, with so much more to see, I wonder if people are watching as closely as once they did.

Let me put it this way: the five films nominated for Best Picture for 1975 were
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws
, and
. Well, not the greatest ever made, and I think
Barry Lyndon
was lucky to be there, but as its replacement you could have had
Amarcord, Shampoo, Night Moves, The Man Who Would Be King, The Passenger
, or
Picnic at Hanging Rock
. It was a pretty good year. I won’t take the space to list the ten films the Academy scrounged together for Best Picture this last year, because so few of them stand comparison with what 1975 had to offer.

Meanwhile, only the other day, in
The New York Times
, Tony Scott raised the question of whether film criticism (along with the critics) might be dying or disappearing. As often, he and the
tried to have it both ways: yes, criticism is fading away, but, don’t you worry, it’s still capable of being terrific.

Critics guard their jobs and so they assume that there is a flag still flying and a city there to be defended. Those of us old enough know how much the general level of film knowledge is in decline—and sooner or later criticism becomes a part of history.

Whereas I think it’s more than obvious that mainstream filmmaking (or being in Oscar contention) is ebbing away. So films are for smaller, smarter audiences? Yes, and usefully so. But there are those of us who feel that film will never be the same if it comes to be a “worthy” rival to the novel, the art gallery, or the concert hall. Why? Because what those places have to offer usually beats intelligent, artistic, independent movies to hell. But those places once went in awe of some movies made at the height of the medium’s confidence—a time for everyone. You see, the everyone-ness of it all is vital. If the story is for you alone, or for me, then Faulkner, Joyce, Proust, and on and on, have done better than the best movies.

So welcome to the fifth edition of a book that is pledged to believing in what was once a mass medium, as well as in the archaic marvel of books, where one entry will lead you to another—as in a story. But do not be too surprised if this is the last edition.

This edition is updated. There are over a hundred new entries, but still there are careers omitted that deserve to be mentioned—in part that is because “film,” in one form or another, is spreading so swiftly, while memory fails us. In the next ten years, more than ever, we may need to change our definition of what a film or a movie is more than we have ever done before.

Keeping up with that international scene and the frenzy of what is “new,” and with the fragmentary wonders on the net, will become increasingly experimental. Still, some filmgoers and filmmakers want to know the outline of our great history, and I hope that this book is a step towards that. The picture on this edition’s jacket (chosen by the very talented Carol Devine Carson) is from a recent film, and one I love. But it serves as the illustration for this book because, inasmuch as it addresses the idea of education, it hints at the possibility that the teacher is a perilous person to sit down with—while the kid should stay wide awake.


Writing the introductions to the several editions of this book can be a dispiriting affair. The author gets into a gloomy mood that fears times have changed (not necessarily for the better), and he is left alone, trying to make some sense of it all. No wonder the poor idiot is tempted to think enough is enough. But then, he comes to give thanks—to all the people who, one way or another, have shared in the ongoing “conversation” about movies. All at once, he realizes that he has such lively company, such friends and arguers. Moreover, the thanking has become the more enjoyable since I stumbled into the game of asking people for their three favorite films. The informal poll that emerges suggests how far movie buffs now live (or would prefer to live) in the past.

Anyway, I am grateful to all the people listed. I start with the publishing houses involved: long ago, at Secker & Warburg, where Tom Rosenthal (
For a Few Dollars More, The Searchers, The Third Man
) was decisive. At Knopf, I want to thank Bob Gottlieb for his unfailing editorial acumen and adventure (
Tokyo Story, The Wind, The Lady Eve
), Kathy Hourigan, maybe the book’s best friend (
On the Waterfront, The Godfather, The Lady Eve
), Jessica Freeman-Slade, sufficiently trained in the Knopf operation to help everyone and need three comedies (The
Philadelphia Story, When Harry Met Sally, A Serious Man
), Jonathan Segal (
Les Enfants du Paradis, Casablanca, The Grand Illusion
), Kathy Zuckerman, an inspired publicist (
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Great Escape, Bright Star
), Kevin Bourke whose copyediting and movie knowledge saved me from so many errors (
Conte d’Automne, La Dolce Vita, North by Northwest
), Carol Carson, who designed the jacket (
Suspicion, Cría, I Know Where I’m Going
), Virginia Tan, who designed the book (
The African Queen, The Wizard of Oz, Midway
), Roméo Enriquez, the production manager (
Diva, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Field of Dreams
), and Charles Spaulding, one of those who actually sell books across the country (
Chinatown, Vertigo, Dr. Strangelove
). Above all, my lasting thanks to Sonny Mehta. And in England, the same thing goes for Richard Beswick at Little, Brown (
Some Like It Hot, Les Enfants du Paradis, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Next, there is a category of friends who are more or less in the business of film, or writing about it: Geoff Andrew (
L’Atalante, Citizen Kane, My Night at Maud’s
), Michael Athen (
Le Feu Follet, The Party
by Blake Edwards, and Zulawski’s
L’Important C’Est d’Aimer
), Michael Barker (
The Big Sleep, French Cancan, The Eclipse
), Adam Begley (
The Rules of the Game, To Have and Have Not, Dr. Strangelove
), Mary Corliss (The
Seventh Seal, The Grand Illusion, Dodsworth
), Richard Corliss (
The Seventh Seal, The Lady Eve
, Guru Dutt’s
), Mark Cousins (
The Shop Around the Corner
, Imamura’s
Insect Woman, A Moment of Innocence
), Leslee Dart (
The Sound of Music, The Purple Rose of Cairo, The Graduate
), Lem Dobbs (
The Great Escape, The Professionals, Zulu
), Geoff Dyer (Tarkovsky’s
The Mirror, Where Eagles Dare
), Mark Feeney (
Wings of Desire, Night Mail, The Palm Beach Story
), Scott Foundas (The
Shop Around the Corner, Pierrot le Fou, Diary of a Country Priest
), Jonathan Galassi (
Raging Bull, The Leopard, All About My Mother
), Paul Gambaccini (
Citizen Kane, Les Enfants du Paradis, Mean Streets
), Sarah Gavron (
Fanny and Alexander, The Piano
, and
Distant Voices, Still Lives
), Tom Gunning (
Vertigo, The Searchers, Sunrise
), Michael Hann (
Beautiful Girls, Where Eagles Dare, The Godfather Part II
), Molly Haskell (
Madame de …, His Girl Friday, The Magnificent Ambersons
), Darcy Hettrich (The
Red Shoes, Gigi, A Face in the Crowd
), Alexander Horwath (The
Wedding March, Contempt, I’m Not There
), Nick James (
Andrei Rublev, Apocalypse Now, I Know Where I’m Going
), Richard T. Jameson (
Sunrise, The Woman in the Window, The Ballad of Cable Hogue
), Elliott Kastner (
Gunga Din, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon
), Crosby Kemper (
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, His Girl Friday, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
), Ann Kolson (
The Red Shoes, Wings of Desire, The Sweet Hereafter
), Tom Luddy (The
Rules of the Game, Citizen Kane, The Searchers
), Greil Marcus (The
Manchurian Candidate, Sunrise, Used Cars
—the first half), Joseph McBride (The
Magnificent Ambersons, Wagon Master, Trouble in Paradise
), Patrick McGilligan (
Citizen Kane, 8½, Nashville
), Douglas McGrath (
Gone With the Wind, Rear Window, The Night of the Hunter
), Gerhard Midding (Rio
Bravo, Madame de …, Vertigo
), Laura Morris (The
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Nashville, M. Hulot’s Holiday
), Kathleen Murphy (
Sunrise, Only Angels Have Wings, Jules and Jim
), Quentin Newark (
Apocalypse Now, Lost in Beijing, Groundhog Day
), Michael Ondaatje (La
Jetée, Edvard Munch, The Emigrants
), Geoff Pevere (
Vertigo, Taxi Driver, Last Tango in Paris
), Sarah Polley (
The Thin Red Line, Scenes from a Marriage, Red
), Antonia Quirke (
On the Waterfront, Jaws, Loulou
), Gary Rosen (
Sunset Blvd., Shampoo, Chinatown
), Andrew Sarris (
Madame de …, The Rules of the Game, Ugetsu Monogatari
), Holly Goldberg Sloan (The
Bridge on the River Kwai, A New Leaf, Annie Hall
), Peter Smith (
Jules and Jim, A Matter of Life and Death
, and
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
), Jim Toback (
F for Fake, Mississippi Mermaid, Hotel Terminus
), John Tibbetts (
Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Crime of Monsieur Lange
), Steve Wasserman (
The First Teacher, A Brief Vacation, The Decalogue
—which is cheating, I suppose, but he is an agent), Leon Wieseltier (
La Ronde, Late Spring, His Girl Friday
), Simon Winder (
North by Northwest, A Matter of Life and Death
, and
Aguirre, the Wrath of God

BOOK: The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Completely Updated and Expanded
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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