|Born||August 29, 1935|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Education||Senn High School|
William Friedkin ( // ; born August 29, 1935) is an American film and television director, producer and screenwriter closely identified with the "New Hollywood" movement of the 1970s. Beginning his career in documentaries in the early 1960s, he is perhaps best known for directing the action thriller film The French Connection (1971), which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, and the supernatural horror film The Exorcist (1973), which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director.
His other films include The Boys in the Band (1970), the suspense thriller Sorcerer (1977), the controversial crime film Cruising (1980),the action thriller To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), the psychological horror film Bug (2006), and the dark comedy Killer Joe (2011).
Friedkin was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Rachael (née Green) and Louis Friedkin. His father was a semi-professional softball player, merchant seaman, and men's clothing salesman. His mother, whom Friedkin called "a saint", was an operating room registered nurse.His parents were Jewish emigrants from Ukraine. His grandparents, parents, and other relatives fled Ukraine during a particularly violent anti-Jewish pogrom in 1903. Friedkin's father was somewhat uninterested in making money, and the family was generally lower middle class while he was growing up. According to film historian Peter Biskind, "Friedkin viewed his father with a mixture of affection and contempt for not making more of himself." According to his memoir, The Friedkin Connection, Friedkin had the utmost affection for his father.
Friedkin attended public schools in Chicago. He enrolled at Senn High School, where he played basketball well enough to consider turning professional.Friedkin was not a serious student and barely received grades good enough to graduate, which he did at the age of 16. According to Friedkin, this was because of social promotion and not because he was bright.
Friedkin began going to movies as a teenager,and has cited Citizen Kane as one of his key influences. Several sources claim that Friedkin saw this motion picture as a teenager, but Friedkin himself says that he did not see the film until 1960, when he was 25 years old. Only then, Friedkin says, did he become a true cineaste. Among the movies which he saw as a teenager and young adult were Les Diaboliques , The Wages of Fear , and Psycho (which he viewed repeatedly, like Citizen Kane). Televised documentaries such as 1960's Harvest of Shame also were important in his developing sense of cinema.
He began working in the mail room at WGN-TV immediately after high school.Within two years (at the age of 18), he started his directorial career doing live television shows and documentaries. His efforts included The People vs. Paul Crump (1962), which won an award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and contributed to the commutation of Crump's death sentence. Its success helped Friedkin get a job with producer David L. Wolper. He also made the football-themed documentary Mayhem on a Sunday Afternoon.
As mentioned in Friedkin's voice-over commentary on the DVD re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo , Friedkin directed one of the last episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965, called "Off Season". Hitchcock admonished Friedkin for not wearing a tie while directing.
In 1965, Friedkin moved to Hollywood and two years later released his first feature film, Good Times starring Sonny and Cher. He has referred to the film as "unwatchable".Several other "art" films followed: The Birthday Party , based on an unpublished screenplay by Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play; the musical comedy The Night They Raided Minsky's ; and the adaptation of Mart Crowley's play The Boys in the Band .
His next film, The French Connection , was released to wide critical acclaim in 1971. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Friedkin followed up with 1973's The Exorcist , based on William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel, which revolutionized the horror genre and is considered by some critics to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won for Best Screenplay and Best Sound.
Following these two pictures, Friedkin, along with Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich, was deemed one of the premier directors of New Hollywood. In 1973, the trio announced the formation of an independent production company at Paramount, The Directors Company. Whereas Coppola directed The Conversation and Bogdanovich, the Henry James adaptation, Daisy Miller , Friedkin abruptly left the company, which was soon closed by Paramount.But Friedkin's later movies did not achieve the same success. Sorcerer (1977), a $22 million American remake of the French classic The Wages of Fear , co-produced by both Universal and Paramount, starring Roy Scheider, was overshadowed by the blockbuster box-office success of Star Wars , which had been released exactly one week prior. Friedkin considers it his finest film, and was personally devastated by its financial and critical failure (as mentioned by Friedkin himself in the documentary series The Directors (1999)).
Sorcerer was shortly followed by the crime-comedy The Brink's Job (1978), based on the real-life Great Brink's Robbery in Boston, Massachusetts, which was also unsuccessful at the box-office. In 1980, he directed an adaptation of the Gerald Walker crime thriller Cruising , starring Al Pacino, which was protested against even during its making and remains the subject of heated debate. The film was critically assailed, and was a financial disappointment.
Friedkin suffered a major heart attack on March 6, 1981. He had a genetically-caused defect in his circumflex left coronary artery, and nearly died. He spent months in rehabilitation.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Friedkin's films received mostly lackluster reviews and moderate ticket sales. Deal of the Century (1983), starring Chevy Chase, Gregory Hines and Sigourney Weaver, was sometimes regarded as a latter-day Dr. Strangelove , though it was generally savaged by critics. However, his action/crime movie To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), starring William Petersen and Willem Dafoe, was a critical favorite and drew comparisons to Friedkin's own The French Connection (particularly for its car-chase sequence), while his courtroom-drama/thriller Rampage (1987) received a fairly positive review from Roger Ebert despite major distribution problems. He next directed the horror film The Guardian (1990) and then the thriller Jade (1995), starring Linda Fiorentino; the latter film received a somewhat favorable response from critics and audiences. Friedkin even said that Jade was the favorite of all the films he had made,as is Sorcerer.
In 2000, The Exorcist was re-released in theaters with extra footage and grossed $40 million in the U.S. alone. Friedkin's involvement in 2007's Bug resulted from a positive experience watching the stage version in 2004. He was surprised to find that he was, metaphorically, on the same page as the playwright and felt that he could relate well to the story.The film won the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Later, Friedkin directed an episode of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation titled "Cockroaches", which re-teamed him with To Live and Die in L.A. star William Petersen. He directed again for CSI's 200th episode, "Mascara".
In June 2010, author William Peter Blatty, promoting his latest novel, revealed that Friedkin had committed to direct the feature film adaptation of his thriller, Dimiter .This would mark almost forty years since their previous collaboration, The Exorcist , not counting the failed collaboration between the two on The Exorcist III . The idea for the book itself actually came to Blatty while sitting in Friedkin's office in 1972 during the first film's production, as he read an article concerning the then atheist-run state of Albania executing a priest for baptizing a newborn infant. He had worked on it on and off ever since 1974, and, upon its completion, sat down with Friedkin for a one-on-one interview in The Huffington Post a few days after Blatty named Friedkin as attached to direct. According to the author, his friend and director had been eager to adapt the story.
In 2011, Friedkin directed Killer Joe , a black comedy written by Tracy Letts, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon, and Thomas Haden Church. Killer Joe premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, prior to its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It opened in U.S. theaters in July 2012, to some favorable reviews from critics but did poorly at the box office, possibly because of its restrictive NC-17 rating.
In April 2013, Friedkin published a memoir, The Friedkin Connection.He was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in September.
Friedkin has had an array of unrealized projects, including The Ripper Diaries, about the manhunt of Jack the Ripper; a film about the account of the Florence Maybrick murder trial, titled Battle Grease; [ citation needed ]an adaptation of the Frank De Felitta suspense novel Sea Trial. A film about the murder of Gianni Versace and the killing spree of his murderer, Andrew Cunanan, titled The Man Who Killed Versace which was written by Frederic Raphael and to be produced by Cruising producer Jerry Weintraub was to have Sergio Castellitto as Versace and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in the lead role as Cunanan. A horror thriller A Safe Darkness, the cop thriller Bump City and the UFO thriller The Devil's Triangle. It was also reported that Friedkin is to direct an HBO movie about the life of the provocative entertainer Mae West starring Bette Midler, titled Queen of the World as West based on her memoirs written by Harvey Fierstein. Friedkin was once in discussions with executive producer David Kirschner to direct the 1988 horror film Child’s Play , which initiated the Chucky franchise, and also intended to direct The Exorcist III before leaving from creative conflicts with William Peter Blatty. Also, Friedkin is in talks to direct Don Winslow's crime novel The Winter of Frankie Machine. In 2014, Friedkin was asked to direct the entire second season of True Detective but he rejected the offer after reading the first scripts of the season. Friedkin was slated to direct a film adaptation of Robin Cook's novel Brain . On September 2021, Friedkin referenced that he is working on a film adaption of The Caine Mutiny . The project is currently in its development stage.
The moving image collection of William Friedkin is held at the Academy Film Archive. The material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the William Friedkin papers at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library.
William Friedkin has been married four times:
While he was filming The Boys in the Band in 1970, Friedkin began a relationship with Kitty Hawks, daughter of director Howard Hawks. It lasted two years, during which the couple announced their engagement, but the relationship ended about 1972.Friedkin began a four-year relationship with Australian dancer and choreographer Jennifer Nairn-Smith in 1972. Although they announced an engagement twice, they never married. They did, however, have a son, Cedric, born on November 27, 1976. Friedkin and his second wife, Lesley-Anne Down, also had a son, Jack, born in 1983. Friedkin was raised Jewish, but called himself an agnostic later in life. However, during an appearance and Q&A at a 40th anniversary screening of The Exorcist at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival, Friedkin said he "believes strongly in God" and "the teachings of Jesus" and other religious figures, and that mankind is "in God's hands."
|1968||The Birthday Party||Yes||No||No|
|The Night They Raided Minsky's||Yes||No||No|
|1970||The Boys in the Band||Yes||No||No|
|1971||The French Connection||Yes||No||No|| Academy Award for Best Director |
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement
Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Direction
|1973||The Exorcist||Yes||No||No|| Empire Movie Masterpiece Award |
Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated – Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement
|1978||The Brink's Job||Yes||No||No|
|1980||Cruising||Yes||Yes||No||Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director |
Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay
|1983||Deal of the Century||Yes||No||No|
|1985||To Live and Die in L.A.||Yes||Yes||No||Festival du Film Policier de Cognac Audience Award|
|1987||Rampage||Yes||Yes||Yes||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Direction |
Nominated – Deauville Film Festival Critics Award
|2000||Rules of Engagement||Yes||No||No|
|2006||Bug||Yes||No||No|| FIPRESCI Prize Quinzaine des Réalisateurs |
Nominated – C.I.C.A.E. Award
|2011||Killer Joe||Yes||No||No|| Venice Film Festival Golden Mouse Award |
Nominated – Filmfest München Arri Award for Best International Film
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Director
Nominated – Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award
|2017||The Devil and Father Amorth||Yes||Yes||No||Documentary|
|2018||Friedkin Uncut||No||No||No||Documentary about William Friedkin|
|1965||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Episode "Off Season"|
|1985||The Twilight Zone||Episode "Nightcrawlers"|
|1992||Tales from the Crypt||Episode "On a Deadman's Chest"|
|2007-2009||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Episodes "Cockroaches" and "Mascara"|
|1986||C.A.T. Squad||Also executive producer|
|1988||C.A.T. Squad: Python Wolf|
|1997||12 Angry Men|
|1972||Academy Award||Best Director||The French Connection||Won|
|Directors Guild of America||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Won|
|Golden Globes||Best Director||Won|
|1973||BAFTA Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|1974||Academy Award||Best Director||The Exorcist||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|Golden Globes||Best Director||Won|
|1981||Razzie Awards||Worst Director||Cruising||Nominated|
|1986||Cognac Festival du Film Policier||Audience Award||To Live and Die in L.A.||Won|
|1988||Deauville Film Festival||Critics Award||Rampage||Nominated|
|1991||Saturn Award||George Pal Memorial Award||Won|
|1998||Directors Guild of America||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||12 Angry Men||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|1999||Saturn Award||President's Award||Won|
|Empire Awards||Movie Masterpiece Award||The Exorcist||Won|
|2000||Palm Beach International Film Festival||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
|2006||Cannes Film Festival||FIPRESCI||Bug||Won|
|2007||Munich Film Festival||CineMerit Award||Won|
|Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival||Time-Machine Honorary Award||Won|
|2009||Locarno International Film Festival||Leopard of Honor||Won|
|2011||Venice Film Festival||Golden Lion||Killer Joe||Nominated|
|2013||Belgian Film Critics Association||Grand Prix||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
|Venice Film Festival||Special Lion||Won|
Friedkin was made Honorary Associate of London Film School [ citation needed ].
The Exorcist is a 1971 horror novel by American writer William Peter Blatty. The book details the demonic possession of eleven-year-old Regan MacNeil, the daughter of a famous actress, and the two priests who attempt to exorcise the demon. Published by Harper & Row, the novel was the basis of a highly successful film adaptation released two years later, whose screenplay was also written and produced by Blatty, and part of The Exorcist franchise.
Roy Richard Scheider was an American actor and amateur boxer. Described by AllMovie as "one of the most unique and distinguished of all Hollywood actors", he gained fame for his leading and supporting roles in celebrated films from the 1970s through to the early to mid-1980s. He was nominated for two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award.
Kinji Fukasaku was a Japanese film director and screenwriter who rose to prominence with a series of yakuza films. He directed the Japanese portion of the Hollywood war film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), yakuza films including Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973), samurai period pieces such as Shogun's Samurai (1978), the space opera Message from Space (1978), the fantasy film Samurai Reincarnation (1981), and his final film Battle Royale (2000). He used a cinema verite-inspired shaky camera technique in many of his films from the early 1970s.
Linda Denise Blair is an American actress and activist. She is best known for playing Regan MacNeil in the horror film The Exorcist (1973), for which she won a Golden Globe Award and received a nomination for an Academy Award. The film established her as a horror icon; she reprised the role in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award.
Sorcerer is a 1977 American thriller film directed and produced by William Friedkin and starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, and Amidou. The second adaptation of Georges Arnaud's 1950 French novel Le Salaire de la peur, it has been widely considered a remake of the 1953 film The Wages of Fear, although Friedkin disagreed with this assessment. The plot depicts four outcasts from varied backgrounds meeting in a South American village, where they are assigned to transport cargoes of aged, poorly kept dynamite that is so unstable that it is 'sweating' its dangerous basic ingredient, nitroglycerin.
John Boorman, is a British filmmaker who is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Deliverance, Zardoz, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General, The Tailor of Panama and Queen and Country.
Exorcist II: The Heretic is a 1977 American horror film directed by John Boorman and written by William Goodhart, and starring Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Paul Henreid and James Earl Jones. It is a sequel to William Friedkin's 1973 film The Exorcist based on the 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty and the second installment of The Exorcist franchise. The film is set four years after the original film and centers on the now 16-year-old Regan MacNeil, who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession.
William Peter Blatty was an American writer, director and producer. He is best known for his 1971 novel The Exorcist, for which he won the Academy Award for the screenplay of its film adaptation and was nominated for Best Picture as its producer. The film also earned Blatty the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama as producer. He also wrote and directed the sequel The Exorcist III.
The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin and produced and written for the screen by William Peter Blatty, based on the 1971 novel of the same name by Blatty. The film stars Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller and Linda Blair. It is the first installment in The Exorcist film series, and follows the demonic possession of twelve year-old Regan and her mother's attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two Catholic priests.
Paul Joseph Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and film critic. He wrote or co-wrote screenplays for four Martin Scorsese films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999).
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is a book by Peter Biskind, published by Simon & Schuster in 1998. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is about the 1960s and 1970s Hollywood, a period of American film known for the production of such films such as The Godfather,The Godfather Part II,Chinatown,Taxi Driver,Jaws,Star Wars,The Exorcist, and The Last Picture Show. The title is taken from films which bookend the era: Easy Rider (1969) and Raging Bull (1980). The book follows Hollywood on the brink of the Vietnam War, when a group of young Hollywood film directors known as the "movie brats" are making their names. It begins in the 1960s and ends in the 1980s.
Gunn is a 1967 American neo noir mystery film directed by Blake Edwards, and starring Craig Stevens, based on the 1958-1961 television series Peter Gunn. Stevens was the only regular cast member from the original series to appear in the film; the characters of Gunn's singing girlfriend Edie Hart, club owner "Mother", and police lieutenant Jacoby were all recast for the film. The movie was intended to be the first in a projected series of Peter Gunn feature films, but no sequels followed.
Good Times is a 1967 American comedy musical western film starring Sonny & Cher. The film marks the feature directorial debut of William Friedkin, who later directed The French Connection and The Exorcist.
Gerald Benjamin "Jerry" Greenberg was an American film editor with more than 40 feature film credits. Greenberg received both the Academy Award for Best Film Editing and the BAFTA Award for Best Editing for the film The French Connection (1971). In the 1980s, he edited five films with director Brian De Palma.
The Exorcist is an American horror film series consisting of six films based on the 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. The films have been distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and 20th Century Fox.
Dimiter is a novel by William Peter Blatty, released on March 16, 2010 through Forge Books. Publishers Weekly awarded Dimiter a starred review, calling it "a beautifully written, haunting tale of vengeance, spiritual searching, loss, and love".
The Exorcist III is a 1990 American psychological horror film written and directed by William Peter Blatty. It is the third installment in the Exorcist series and an adaptation of Blatty's Exorcist novel Legion (1983). It stars George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson and Brad Dourif.
The Exorcist is an American media franchise that originated with William Peter Blatty's 1971 horror novel of the same name and most prominently featured in a 1973 film adapted from the novel, and many subsequent prequels and sequels. All of these installments focus on fictional accounts of people possessed by Pazuzu, the main antagonist of the series, and the efforts of religious authorities to counter this possession.
Louis DiGiaimo was an American casting director and film producer. He was one of the casting directors of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and went on to help cast multiple films each for directors William Friedkin, Barry Levinson and Ridley Scott. He also produced Mike Newell's Donnie Brasco alongside Levinson and, in 1998, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series for Levinson's television series Homicide: Life on the Street.
Thomas Valentine Bermingham, SJ, was an American Jesuit priest, and Classical teacher and scholar. In addition to his academic career at institutions including Fordham University and Georgetown University, he was known for his involvement in the production of the 1973 horror film The Exorcist, on which he worked as a technical advisor as well as acting in a minor role.
My personal beliefs are defined as agnostic. I’m someone who believes that the power of God and the soul are unknowable, but that anybody who says there is no God is not being honest about the mystery of fate. I was raised in the Jewish faith, but I strongly believe in the teachings of Jesus.
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