The Many Lives of Cy Endfield: Film Noir, the Blacklist, and Zulu (Wisconsin Film Studies)

The Many Lives of Cy Endfield: Film Noir, the Blacklist, and Zulu (Wisconsin Film Studies)

Language: English

Pages: 276

ISBN: 0299303748

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Cy Endfield (1914–1995) was a filmmaker who was also fascinated by the worlds of close-up magic, science, and invention. After directing several distinctive low-budget films in Hollywood, he was blacklisted in 1951 and fled to Britain rather than “name names” before HUAC, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Un-American Activities Committee. The Pennsylvania-born Endfield made films that exhibit an outsider’s eye for his adopted country, including the working-class “trucking” drama Hell Drivers and the cult film Zulu—a war epic as politically nuanced as it is spectacular. Along the way he encountered Orson Welles, collaborated with pioneering animator Ray Harryhausen, published a book of his card magic, and co-invented an early word processor that anticipated today’s technology.
            The Many Lives of Cy Endfield is the first book on this fascinating figure. The fruit of years of archival research and personal interviews by Brian Neve, it documents Endfield’s many identities: among them second-generation immigrant, Jew, Communist, and exile. Neve paints detailed scenes not only of the political and personal dramas of the blacklist era, but also of the attempts by Hollywood directors in the postwar 1940s and early 1950s to address social and political controversies of the day. Out of these efforts came two crime melodramas (what would become known as film noir) on inequalities of class and race: The Underworld Story and The Sound of Fury (also known as Try and Get Me!). Neve reveals the complex production and reception histories of Endfield’s films, which the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum saw as reflective of “an uncommon intelligence so radically critical of the world we live in that it’s dangerous.”
            The Many Lives of Cy Endfield is at once a revealing biography of an independent, protean figure, an insight into film industry struggles, and a sensitive and informed study of an underappreciated body of work.

Best Five Books of the Year list, Iranian 24 Monthly, London UK

“Make[s] a case for [Endfield’s] distinctive voice while tracing the way struggle, opposition, and thwarted ambition both defined his life and became the powerful themes of his best work.”—Cineaste

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June 10, 2014. 33. For Andersen’s comments on the August 2014 Film Society at Lincoln Center series in New York, see http://www.filmlinc.com/daily/entry/red-hollywood-set-for-august-exclusive-run-with-blacklist-series (accessed June 20, 2014). 34. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Tribute to Cy Endfield,” Nineteenth Telluride Film Festival, Endfield file, Margaret Herrick Library (AMPAS). See also Rosenbaum, “Pages from the Endfield File.” Jonathan Rosenbaum kindly supplied me with a tape recording of the

years became a major star—Michael Caine. I had been particularly impressed by The Sound of Fury/Try and Get Me! (1950), a rare film that in Britain had surfaced on television in the mid-eighties. Yet there was much that was unknown about the rest of Endfield’s career and particularly his work in the United Kingdom from the early fifties. By profile he was not in the same league with the likes of Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, or Elia Kazan. The careers and experiences of Jules Dassin and John Berry

continues, “But I must say this was so irregular on my part—and I started having very severe arguments with many of my friends there. Left-wing friends on those points, because I just had a general sense that everything that was represented as being the truth about Russia was not the truth, and I was very disturbed about the things that were going on, particularly in the arts and sciences. I felt there was a coercive system, that I had never believed was so.” He is asked about his time in the

censorship and form noted by the director as a factor in the film’s commercial failure. After Bain and Monkton leave the scene, spectators are left with a coda in which O’Brien is a Robinson Crusoe figure, a human alone with the baboons. Ecological thinking (like thinking about gender) has developed and changed since the mid-sixties, but here the perspective of the film stands up better. There is no particular romanticism about the baboons. Although primarily vegetarian they are seen as

theatre. In 1979 Alan took a fifteen-year-old black youth, Michael Vincent, along to Thurloe Square. Vincent had by then begun performing and had studied the tricks in Entertaining Card Magic. He lacked confidence, but both Alan and Vincent remember that Endfield was immediately reassuring and recognized the talent of a young man who would become a renowned performer of close-up magic, appearing at the Magic Circle and on the Penn and Teller television shows. To Vincent, “Cy Endfield was my first

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