Robert Aldrich

Birthday:

08/09/1918

Place of birth:

Cranston, Rhode Island, USA:

Biography:

Robert Aldrich was an American film director, writer and producer, notable for such films as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), The Big Knife (1955), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), The Dirty Dozen (1967). Born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Lora Lawson and newspaper publisher Edward Burgess Aldrich. He was a grandson of U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and a cousin of Nelson Rockefeller. He studied economics at the University of Virginia. In 1941, he dropped out of college for a $50-a-week job at RKO Radio Pictures. In doing so, he was also dropped by his family, losing a potential stake in Chase Bank he would have inherited. It's been said that "No American film director was born as wealthy as Aldrich—and then so thoroughly cut off from family money." He quickly rose in film production as an assistant director, and worked with Jean Renoir, Abraham Polonsky, Robert Rossen, Joseph Losey and Charlie Chaplin as an assistant on Limelight. He became a television director in the 1950s, directing his first feature film, Big Leaguer, in 1953. During the 1950s, Aldrich directed mostly action films like Apache and Vera Cruz with Burt Lancaster. Aldrich soon gained recognition as an auteur filmmaker, depicting his liberal humanist thematic vision in many genres, in films such as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), a film noir classic, The Big Knife (1955), an adaptation of Clifford Odets's play about Hollywood business, and Attack (1956), a WWII infantry combat film exploring how U.S. Army careerism determined who attacked and who ordered the attack. In the 1960s, he directed several commercially successful films, such as the gothic horror stories What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as spiteful sisters and faded child-actresses, Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, with Bette Davis as a Southern woman who lives in a mansion and thinks she is going insane (both Joan Crawford and Davis were to appear, but Crawford left the film); the controversial The Killing of Sister George (1968); and the hugely popular war film The Dirty Dozen (1967). The success of The Dirty Dozen allowed him to establish his own production studio for some time, but several failures forced his return to conventionally commercial Hollywood films. Nevertheless, his humanism is evident in The Longest Yard (1974), about the rigged-game politics, and Ulzana's Raid (1972) an uncompromising film based on the real life break-out from an Indian reservation of a band led by chief Ulzana, the extreme violence and torture they exacted upon isolated pioneer families in the Arizona territory, and their pursuit by the US cavalry. From his marriage to Harriet Foster (1941–65), Robert Aldrich had four children, all of whom work in the film business: Adell, William, Alida and Kelly. Aldrich died of kidney failure on December 5, 1983 in a Los Angeles hospital. Film critic John Patterson summarized his career in 2012: "He was a punchy, caustic, macho and pessimistic director, who depicted corruption and evil unflinchingly, and pushed limits on violence throughout his career. His aggressive and pugnacious film-making style, often crass and crude, but never less than utterly vital and alive, warrants – and will richly reward – your immediate attention."


Film Credits

Operation Dirty Dozen (1967)
as Himself
The Big Night (1951)
as Ringsider at Fight (uncredited)
...All the Marbles (1981)
Director
The Frisco Kid (1979)
Director
The Choirboys (1977)
Director
Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)
Director
Hustle (1975)
Director
Hustle (1975)
Producer
The Longest Yard (1974)
Director
Emperor of the North Pole (1973)
Director
Ulzana's Raid (1972)
Director
The Grissom Gang (1971)
Director
The Grissom Gang (1971)
Producer
Too Late the Hero (1970)
Director
Too Late the Hero (1970)
Producer
Too Late the Hero (1970)
Screenplay
Too Late the Hero (1970)
Story
What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969)
Producer
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Director
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Producer
The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
Director
The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
Producer
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Director
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
Director
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
Producer
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Director
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Producer
4 for Texas (1963)
Director
4 for Texas (1963)
Producer
4 for Texas (1963)
Screenplay
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Director
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Producer
Sodom and Gomorrah (1962)
Director
The Last Sunset (1961)
Director
The Angry Hills (1959)
Director
Ten Seconds to Hell (1959)
Director
Ten Seconds to Hell (1959)
Screenplay
The Ride Back (1957)
Producer
The Garment Jungle (1957)
Director
Attack (1956)
Director
Attack (1956)
Producer
Autumn Leaves (1956)
Director
The Big Knife (1955)
Director
The Big Knife (1955)
Producer
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Director
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Producer
Vera Cruz (1954)
Director
Apache (1954)
Director
World for Ransom (1954)
Director
World for Ransom (1954)
Producer
Big Leaguer (1953)
Director
Limelight (1952)
Assistant Director
The Prowler (1951)
Assistant Director
M (1951)
Assistant Director
No Minor Vices (1948)
Assistant Director
Body and Soul (1947)
Assistant Director
Pardon My Past (1945)
Assistant Director
The Southerner (1945)
Assistant Director