Unit Seven Directors and Key People

Orson Welles - His father was a very well to do inventor, while his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in various arts such as magic, painting, and piano as a child when his mother died when he was seven he and his father traveled the world. When his father died when he was fifteen he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. Maurice Bern-stein in 1931.

Billy Wilder- First started as a screenwriter in the early 1920's, but then moved to Hollywood after Hitler's rise, because he was Jewish. In 1939, he co-wrote a film that became a hit known as Ninotchka. Became famous after directing the noir film, Double Indemnity (1944). He directed many more movies, for which he gained and received nominations and awards for his directing and screenwriting. Wilder is one of only five people who won the Academy Awards as director, producer, and writer for the same film, The Apartment. Wilder directed many famous films including Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, and Sunset Boulevard starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson.

Gregg Toland- Born in Illinois in 1904, the only child of Jennie and Frank Toland, Gregg and his mother moved to California several years after his parents divorced in 1910.Toland helped devise a tool which silenced the camera's noise and which allowed the camera to move about more freely. In 1931, Toland received his first solo credit for the Eddie Cantor comedy, "Palmy Days." In 1939 he earned his first Oscar for his work on William Wyler's "Wuthering Heights." In the following year he sought out Orson Welles who then hired him to photograph "Citizen Kane." (Toland was said to have protected the inexperienced Welles from potential embarrassment by conferring with him in private about technical matters rather than bringing these up in front of the assembled cast and crew.) For "Kane" Toland used a method which became known as "deep focus" because it showed background objects as clearly as foreground objects. (Film theorist Andre Bazin said that Toland brought democracy to film-making by allowing viewers to discover what was interesting to them in a scene rather than having this choice dictated by the director.) Toland quickly became the highest paid cinematographer in the business, earning as much as $200,000 over a three year period. He also became perhaps the first cinematographer to receive prominent billing in the opening credits, rather than being relegated to a card containing seven or more other names. Tragically, Toland's career was cut short in 1948 by his untimely death at age 44.

Robert Mitchum- (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, author, composer and singer and is #23 on the America Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. Mitchum is largely remembered for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s. Mitchum was initially known for his work in the film noir genre. His first entry into this world of dark crime stories was the well-regarded B-movie, When Strangers Marry, about a serial killer.

Raymond Chandler - (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an Anglo-American novelist and screenwriter who had an immense stylistic influence upon the modern private detective story, especially in the style of the writing and the attitudes now characteristic of the genre. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, along with Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, is considered synonymous with "private detective", both being played by on screen by Humphrey Bogart.

Dashiell Hammett - (May 27, 1894 - January 10. 1961) born 27 May 1894, St Mary's County, Maryland, to Richard Hammett and Mary Bond. American author of several detective novels and short stories. Characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse) His long short stories were republished in novel form by Alfred Knopf. Married to Josphine Dolan from 1921 to 1937 and had two children. Died in Lenox Hill Hospital, New York on January 10, 1961.

Jim Thompson - James Myers Thompson (September 27, 1906, Anadarko, Oklahoma Territory - April 7, Los 1977,Angeles, Ca) was an America author and screenwriter, known for his pulp crime fiction. Despite critical fame, his works didn't become famous until well after his death. He wrote 30 plus novels and the majority of them were paperback, and some of his novels were republished like Black Lizard. Some of his best novels were Savage Night, and The Killer inside of me. Jim Thompson was mostly a pulp fiction writer as well.

William Holden was born on April 17, 1918, in Illinois. He starred in Sunset Boulevard with Gloria Swanson. He received his first ever Best Actor Oscar nomination. He received the award for starring in Stalag 17 as a prisoner of war. He then won an emmy for Best lead actor in the Black Knight (1974). He was married with children to Brenda Marshall and they divorced in 1971.


John Huston - (August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) born in Nevada, Missouri and died in Rhode Island. He was an American film director, screenwriter and actor. He wrote most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics. During his 46-year career, Huston received 15 Oscar nominations, winning twice, and directed both his father, Walter Huston, and daughter, Anjelica Huston to Oscar wins in different films. He made his broadway debut with "Ruint" in 1925. His famous works include The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and The African Queen (1951).