Image of William Friedkin

William Friedkin

William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Some of his other films include Sorcerer, Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., Jade, Rules of Engagement, The Hunted, Bug, and Killer Joe. 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. Several other "art" films followed, including the adaptation of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band and most notably The Birthday Party, based on an unpublished screenplay by Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play. Friedkin, however, did not want to be known as an art house director, but rather for action and serious drama through stories about an America upended by crime, hypocrisy, the occult, and amorality. All of which he mounted up into his films to reflect what was going on in an America that was changing in the wake of Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution, and Watergate. In 1971, his The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim. 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 the Best Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing. 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. Friedkin's later movies did not achieve the same success. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Friedkin's films received mostly lackluster reviews and moderate ticket sales. 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). In 2011 Friedkin directed Killer Joe, a black comedy written by Tracy Letts, and starring Matthew McConaughey. Killer Joe premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, prior to its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. 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.

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Aug 29, 1935 In Chicago, Illinois, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Conversation with Fritz Lang 1975-02-24
Latest Project:
Movie Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist 2019-09-04
Known For
Poster of Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Poster of The Devil and Father Amorth
Poster of Sorcerers: A Conversation with William Friedkin and Nicolas Winding Refn
Poster of A Little Solitaire
Movie Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist Himself 2019-09-04
Movie The Devil and Father Amorth Himself 2018-04-20
Movie Friedkin Uncut Himself 2018-11-05
Movie Sorcerers: A Conversation with William Friedkin and Nicolas Winding Refn 2015-12-02
Movie Algren 2014-10-14
Movie Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles Himself - Filmmaker (archive footage) 2014-12-12
Movie Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot Himself 2013-01-15
Movie A Fuller Life Himself - Reader (segment "My Ballsy Yarns") 2013-08-28
Movie Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of Interviewee 2012-01-01
Movie Stanley Kubrick in Focus Himself 2012-11-30
Movie Miller's Tale Himself 2011-03-05
Movie Making the Boys Himself 2011-03-11
Movie North by Northwest: One for the Ages Himself 2009-01-01
Movie The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style Himself 2009-01-01
Movie Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman Himself 2009-09-22
Movie Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master Himself 2008-01-01
Movie Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock Himself 2008-01-01
Movie In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy Himself 2008-10-07
Movie The History of Cruising 2007-09-18
Movie Exorcising Cruising 2007-09-18
Movie Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 2007-10-23
Movie View from the Overlook: Crafting 'The Shining' Himself 2007-10-23
Movie The Visions of Stanley Kubrick Himself 2007-10-23
Movie Shadows of Suspense Himself 2006-08-22
Movie Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy 2005-10-04
Movie A Little Solitaire Himself 2004-07-12
Movie Counterfeit World: Making 'To Live and Die in L.A.' Himself 2003-12-02
Movie A Decade Under the Influence Himself 2003-04-25
Series Through the Night with... Unknown 2002-05-10
Movie The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist Himself 1998-01-01
Movie Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy Himself 1998-02-04
Movie Fear in the Dark Himself 1991-10-29
Series The Simpsons Unknown 1989-12-16
Movie Putting it Together: The Making of the Broadway Album 1985-01-01
Movie Conversation with Fritz Lang Himself - Interviewer 1975-02-24