In the wake of the legendary director’s death, we wanted to post clips from an interview Nat Segaloff had with Penn in 2005. The interview was conducted in preparation for Segaloff’s forthcoming book, Arthur Penn: American Director, arriving April 2011. Enjoy!
The Tension of Live TV:
Marlon Brando and Sam Spiegel film The Chase
Working with Warren Beatty on Bonnie and Clyde
On actors and anarchy
For more info on Arthur Penn: American Director, continue reading this post
Arthur Penn: American Director is the comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most influential filmmakers. Thematic chapters lucidly convey the story of Penn’s life and career, as well as pertinent events in the history of American film, theater, and television. In the process of tracing the full spectrum of his career, Arthur Penn reveals the enormous scope of Penn’s talent and his profound impact on the entertainment industry in an accessible, engaging account of the well-known director’s life.
Born in 1922 to a family of Philadelphia immigrants, the young Penn was bright but aimless—especially compared to his talented older brother Irving, who would later become a world-renowned photographer. Penn drifted into directing, but he soon mastered the craft in three mediums: television, Broadway, and motion pictures. By the time he made Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Penn was already a Tony-winning Broadway director and one of the prodigies of the golden age of television. His innovative handling of the story of two Depression-era outlaws not only challenged Hollywood’s strict censorship code, it shook the foundation of studio system itself and ushered in the film revolution. His next films—Alice’s Restaurant (1969), Little Big Man (1970), and Night Moves (1975)—became instant classics, summoning emotions from shock to sensuality and from confusion to horror, all of which reflected the complexity of the man behind the camera.
The personal and creative odyssey captured in these pages includes memorable adventures in World War II; the chaotic days of live television; the emergence of Method acting in Hollywood; and experiences with Marlon Brando, Anne Bancroft, Warren Beatty, William Gibson, Lillian Hellman, and a host of other show business legends.
Nat Segaloff is a writer, producer, teacher, and journalist. His writings have appeared in Film Comment, the Journal of the Producers Guild of America, and American Movie Classics Magazine. He is the author of Hurricane Billy: The Stormy Life and Films of William Friedkin and coauthor of Love Stories: Hollywood’s Most Romantic Movies. He lives in Los Angeles, California.