Introduction: John Sturges (03:54)
This episode of “The Directors” looks back at the career of John Sturges, who is known for his intelligent action films. Among his most celebrated works are “The Great Escape,” “The Magnificent Seven,” and “Gunfight at the OK Corral.”
Sturges' Early Life and Career (02:48)
Sturges was born in 1910. His brother helped him get a job as an assistant art director at RKO Pictures. He brought three-strip Technicolor to the studio with the 1936 film, "The Garden of Allah." He served during World War II and shot “12-day pictures” for Columbia Studios afterward.
Historical Drama and Film Noir (02:42)
Sturges made several films—including his first western, “The Walking Hill”—before he was hired by MGM. In 1950, he directed “The Magnificent Yankee,” a biopic about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He also directed the detective story, “Mystery Street.”
Working With Major Stars (02:56)
Sturges reunited with actor Ricordo Montalban on "Right Cross." He worked with Spencer Tracy on the 1951 film, "The People vs. O'Hara." Its story follows an alcoholic lawyer who redeems himself by helping to try a case.
Hit Movies (03:55)
The Sturges-directed film "Jeopardy" was released in 1953; the thriller starred Barbara Stanwyck. The film was a commercial and critical hit, as was the western, "Escape from Fort Bravo," starring William Holden.
Iconic Westerns (06:44)
Tracy stars in "Bad Day at Black Rock," a modern western that earned Sturges his first Academy Award nomination for best director. He directed “Backlash” before taking on one of his biggest hits, “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” which stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.
Tense Thriller (04:12)
In 1958, Sturges directed "The Law and Jake Wade." Robert Taylor stars as a marshal who is drawn back into his previous life of crime. Sturges worked with Tracy for the last time on an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."
Independent Western (03:39)
Sturges worked with Douglas one last time on "Last Train from Gun Hill." The film allowed the director to break away from the studio system. Sturges paired up Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida for "Never So Few;" it was his first film with Steve McQueen.
Most Famous Western (03:41)
McQueen would return for "The Magnificent Seven." The project was initiated by one of its stars, Yul Brynner, who wanted to make a western based on Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai." It was one of Sturges’s most successful films.
Iconic World War II Thriller (02:29)
The rest of the Rat Pack joined Sinatra for "Sergeants 3." Sturges was then reunited with several "Magnificent Seven" cast members when he collaborated with McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn for "The Great Escape."
Late 1960s Output (05:16)
Sturges filmed "The Hallelujah Trail" in 1965. The comedy western stars Lancaster and Lee Remick. Sturges also directed the sci-fi thrillers, "The Satan Bug" and “Marooned”; the western, "Hours of the Gun"; and the Cold War thriller, "Ice Station Zebra."
Sturges' Final Films and Legacy (04:49)
Sturges returned to the western genre in 1972 with "Joe Kidd," which stars Clint Eastwood. He worked with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall on "The Eagle Has Landed." Many of his films are more appreciated today than when they were first released.
Credits: John Sturges (00:41)
Credits: John Sturges
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