|July 24, 1904
San Francisco, California
|August 17, 1977 73) (aged
|Film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor
Delmer Lawrence Daves (July 24, 1904 – August 17, 1977) was an American screenwriter, film director and film producer.He worked in many genres, including film noir and warfare, but he is best known for his Western movies, especially Broken Arrow (1950), The Last Wagon (1956), 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Hanging Tree (1959). He was required to work exclusively on studio-based films after heart trouble in 1959, one of which, A Summer Place , was a huge commercial success.
Daves worked with some of the best known players of his time including established stars like Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Glenn Ford, James Stewart and Richard Widmark. He also helped to develop the careers of up-and-coming players such as Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Felicia Farr and George C. Scott.
Born in San Francisco, Daves studied law at Stanford University but, on completing his degree, he decided to pursue a career in the burgeoning film industry, first working as a prop boy on the Western The Covered Wagon (1923), directed by James Cruze, and then serving as a technical advisor on a number of other films.He tried his hand at acting and appeared in more than ten movies including The Night Flyer (1928) (produced by Cruze), The Duke Steps Out (1929) and Good News (1930).
While he was acting, Daves was given the opportunity by MGM to collaborate on screenplays. He began his career as a screenwriter by contributing to the early sound comedy film So This Is College (MGM; 1929), directed by Sam Wood. Later, working for MGM and other companies, he wrote screenplays for films like Shipmates (MGM; 1931), Dames (Warner Bros; 1934), The Petrified Forest (Warner Bros; 1936), Love Affair (RKO Radio; 1939), and You Were Never Lovelier (Columbia; 1942).Daves was particularly successful with Love Affair which, using his original script, was remade as An Affair to Remember (20th Century Fox; 1957).
In 1943, Warner Bros asked Daves to direct Destination Tokyo , a wartime adventure film starring Cary Grant and John Garfield. Daves assisted with the screenplay and this became normal practice for him as a director.He directed three more films during the Second World War – The Very Thought of You (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944) and Pride of the Marines (1945), all for Warners. The first two of those were light-hearted but the latter, starring John Garfield and Eleanor Parker, studied the difficulties faced by a US marine who had been blinded at the Battle of Guadalcanal. All four of Daves' wartime films were commercially successful. After the war, Daves turned to film noir and made The Red House (1947), starring Edward G. Robinson, for Sol Lesser at United Artists. He returned to Warners where he wrote and directed Dark Passage (1947), starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Agnes Moorehead. He later directed To the Victor (1948), A Kiss in the Dark (1949) and Task Force (1949). He also wrote the screenplay for Task Force, which starred Gary Cooper.
In February 1949, Daves signed a long-term contract at 20th Century Fox.He began by directing his first Western, the critically acclaimed Broken Arrow (1950) which starred James Stewart, Debra Paget and Jeff Chandler. Chandler played Cochise and the movie's success inspired the making of other films with Native American protagonists. Kim Newman wrote that, by his dignified and heroic performance, Oscar-nominated Chandler established Cochise as "the 1950s model of an Indian hero". Newman points out that the film inspired goodwill to other Native American chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Geronimo – as a result, "it became fashionable for Westerns to be pro-Indian". Other scholars warned that these "pro-Indian" movies proposed that peaceful co-existence between Natives and whites was achieved only through the loss of Indian identity. "Good" Indians would conform to white society, "bad" Indians would not.
Daves decided to try other genres with the adventure films Bird of Paradise (1951) and Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953), both of which he wrote and directed.As director only, he made Never Let Me Go (1953) for MGM and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) for Fox. Never Let Me Go, starring Clark Gable and Gene Tierney, was shot entirely in England and featured a supporting cast of well-known British actors.
Daves became a freelance director in 1954 and returned to Warners to work on Drum Beat (1954), which he wrote, directed and also co-produced with Alan Ladd, who starred in the movie. One of Ladd's co-stars was Charles Bronson who, then relatively unknown, gave an impressive performance as the Modoc chief Captain Jack.By this time, Daves was fed up of the "pro-Indian" fashion that he had begun, and Drum Beat was "pro-settler" with the hanging of Bronson's character in the final scene "restoring the balance". Aleiss argued that Drum Beat actually preached the same theme in his previous Westerns of good Indians conforming to white expectations while eliminating the bad Indian (Captain Jack). Daves worked primarily on Westerns for the next five years.
After writing the screenplay of White Feather (1955) for Fox, Daves directed three highly-rated Westerns: Jubal (1956) for Columbia; The Last Wagon (1956) for Fox; and 3:10 to Yuma (1957) for Columbia. He co-wrote the screenplay for the first two of these; Halsted Welles adapted 3:10 to Yuma from the novel by Elmore Leonard. Felicia Farr had a significant role in all three films. Glenn Ford was the lead actor in Jubal and co-starred with Van Heflin in 3:10 to Yuma. Richard Widmark starred in The Last Wagon. Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Rod Steiger were all in Jubal; James Drury had a small part in The Last Wagon; Richard Jaeckel and Leora Dana had significant parts in 3:10 to Yuma. According to one review, 3:10 to Yuma was a variation on High Noon (1952) as it "pits a farmer (Heflin) in a battle of wits with a captured killer" (Ford, cast against type as a villain) – it is a "psychological Western" that is generally considered a classic of the genre.
Following Cowboy (1958) which again starred Glenn Ford, this time with Felicia Farr's future husband Jack Lemmon, Daves decided on a switch of genre to direct Kings Go Forth (1958) a World War II drama for United Artists which starred Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood. Daves returned to Westerns towards the end of 1958 when he made The Badlanders (1958) for MGM. This film was in effect a remake of noir classic The Asphalt Jungle (1950), reset in the 1890s. It starred Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine.
Daves then made his last Western, The Hanging Tree (1959) starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell and Karl Malden, with George C. Scott making his debut. This is regarded as another classic and Daves made full use of a stark landscape in which the only real feature was a makeshift gold camp.The power of newly struck gold sends the community into a frenzy and they become, in Newman's words, "a wild collection of riotous scum".
Daves suffered problems with his heartduring the making of The Hanging Tree and was forced to step aside for several days; Malden took over as director while Daves was absent. There has been speculation that health problems prevented Daves from continuing to work on Westerns, which were often physically demanding.
On medical advice, Daves decided to forgo Westerns and limit himself to studio-bound productions which were less strenuous.He wrote, produced and directed a series of romantic dramas at Warners which all starred Troy Donahue: A Summer Place (1959), Parrish (1961), Susan Slade (1961) and Rome Adventure (1962). A Summer Place was one of his biggest commercial successes. Based on the novel by Sloan Wilson, it was controversial at the time for its treatment of adultery and pre-marital sex.
Daves' final three films were all made at Warners. Spencer's Mountain (1963) starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. It was based upon Earl Hamner Jr's autobiographical novel of the same name, and served as the basis for the later television series The Waltons .Daves then wrote, directed and produced Youngblood Hawke (1964) and The Battle of the Villa Fiorita (1965). He retired after Villa Florita was released.
Daves was married to actress Mary Lawrence from 1938 until he died on August 17, 1977. He is interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Kim Newman says of Daves and Anthony Mann that they were able to "ring changes" on seemingly familiar Western storylines by "playing up the psychologically acute reflections of their characters" in relation to the landscape as well as to each other. Daves, he says, achieved this in each of Broken Arrow, The Last Wagon, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Hanging Tree.
Despite several highly-acclaimed films, Dave Kehr considers Daves to be an under-rated and neglected filmmaker.As a director, Daves first built his reputation on morally complex war films such as Pride of the Marines and socially progressive Westerns. For example, Broken Arrow has been credited as one of the first to introduce the issue of racism in post-war American movies, and it is widely regarded as one of the first "pro-Native American" films. Kehr views Daves' late period romances as sharing the same virtues as his earlier action films: "characters composed with the utmost integrity and respect; a gift for creating a detailed and convincing social background; and a strong, clear narrative style that allowed him to manage a large cast of characters and several simultaneous levels of dramatic events".
Daves began his career as filmmaker in 1943, following a career working as an actor and scriptwriter. He is credited with making 26 films between 1943 and 1965, his most acclaimed being the 1957 film 3:10 to Yuma.
Adolph Green was an American lyricist and playwright who, with long-time collaborator Betty Comden, penned the screenplays and songs for some of the most beloved musicals on Broadway and in Hollywood. Although they were not a romantic couple, they shared a unique comic genius and sophisticated wit that enabled them to forge a six-decade-long partnership. They received numerous accolades including four Tony Awards and nominations for two Academy Awards and a Grammy Award. Green was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 and American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981. Comden and Green received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1991.
Charles Bronson was an American actor. Known for his "granite features and brawny physique", and action films, Bronson was born into extreme poverty, in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania. His father, a miner, died when Bronson was young. Bronson himself worked in the mines as well until joining the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 to fight in World War II. After his service, he joined a theatrical troupe and studied acting. During the 1950s, he played various supporting roles in motion pictures and television, including anthology drama TV series in which he would appear as the main character. Near the end of the decade, he had his first cinematic leading role in Machine-Gun Kelly (1958).
Gwyllyn Samuel Newton "Glenn" Ford was a Canadian-American actor who often portrayed ordinary men in unusual circumstances. Ford was most prominent during Hollywood's Golden Age as one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, who had a career that lasted more than 50 years. Although he played in many genres of movies, some of his most significant roles were in the film noirs Gilda (1946) and The Big Heat (1953), and the high school angst film Blackboard Jungle (1955). However, it was for comedies or westerns that he received acting laurels, including three Golden Globe Nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy movie, winning for Pocketful of Miracles (1961). He also played a supporting role as Clark Kent's adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, in Superman (1978).
Emmett Evan "Van" Heflin Jr. was an American theatre, radio, and film actor. He played mostly character parts over the course of his film career, but during the 1940s had a string of roles as a leading man. Heflin won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Johnny Eager (1942). He also had memorable roles in Westerns such as Shane (1953), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), and Gunman's Walk (1958).
Richard Brooks was an American screenwriter, film director, novelist and film producer. Nominated for eight Oscars in his career, he was best known for Blackboard Jungle (1955), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Elmer Gantry, In Cold Blood (1967) and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977).
Broken Arrow is a 1950 American Western film directed by Delmer Daves and starring James Stewart, Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget. The film is based on historical figures, but fictionalizes their story in dramatized form. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Film Promoting International Understanding. Film historians have said that the film was one of the first major Westerns since the Second World War to portray the Indians sympathetically.
John Lee Mahin was an American screenwriter and producer of films who was active in Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was known as the favorite writer of Clark Gable and Victor Fleming. In the words of one profile, he had "a flair for rousing adventure material, and at the same time he wrote some of the raciest and most sophisticated sexual comedies of that period."
The revisionist Western is a sub-genre of the Western film. Called a post-classical variation of the traditional Western, the revisionist subverts the myth and romance of the traditional by means of character development and realism to present a less simplistic view of life in the "Old West". While the traditional Western always embodies a clear boundary between good and evil, the revisionist Western does not.
Michael Parks was an American singer and actor. He appeared in many films and made frequent television appearances, notably starring in the 1969–1970 series Then Came Bronson, but was probably best known for his work in his later years with filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Kevin Smith.
Clair Huffaker was an American screenwriter and author of westerns and other fiction, many of which were turned into films.
Cimarron is a 1960 American Western film based on the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron. The film stars Glenn Ford and Maria Schell and was directed by Anthony Mann and Charles Walters, though Walters is not credited onscreen. Ferber's novel was previously adapted as a film in 1931; that version won three Academy Awards.
Borden Chase was an American writer.
The Badlanders is a 1958 American western caper film directed by Delmer Daves and starring Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine. Based on the 1949 novel The Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett, the story was given an 1898 setting by screenwriter Richard Collins. It is the second film adaptation of the novel following 1950's The Asphalt Jungle.
William Bowers was an American reporter, playwright, and screenwriter. He worked as a reporter in Long Beach, California and for Life magazine, and specialized in writing comedy-westerns. He also turned out several thrillers.
The Last Wagon is a 1956 American CinemaScope western film starring Richard Widmark. It was co-written and directed by Delmer Daves and tells a story set during the American Indian Wars: the survivors of an Indian massacre must rely on a man wanted for several murders to lead them out of danger.
Charles Schnee was an American screenwriter and film producer. He wrote the scripts for the Westerns Red River (1948) and The Furies (1950), the social melodrama They Live by Night (1949), and the cynical Hollywood saga The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), for which he won an Academy Award.
Felicia Farr is an American former actress and model
James Ruffin Webb was an American screenwriter. He was best known for writing the screenplay for the film How the West Was Won (1962), which garnered widespread critical acclaim and earned him an Academy Award.
Jubal is a 1956 American Western film directed by Delmer Daves and starring Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Valerie French, and Felicia Farr. Shot in CinemaScope, it was one of the few adult westerns in the 1950s and is described as Othello on the Range. The supporting cast features Noah Beery Jr., Charles Bronson and Jack Elam.
Drum Beat is a 1954 American CinemaScope Western film in WarnerColor written and directed by Delmer Daves and co-produced by Daves and Alan Ladd in his first film for his Jaguar Productions company. Ladd stars along with Audrey Dalton, Charles Bronson as Captain Jack, and Hayden Rorke as President Ulysses S. Grant.