Hal Ashby

“Ashby turned out his first film as a director in 1970, and for the rest of the decade enjoyed a growing reputation for his skill, originality, and zest for the offbeat. His second film, Harold and Maude, initially ignored, became over the years an enormously popular cult movie.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012

Hal Ashby

Director / Editor
(1929-1988) Born September 2, Ogden, Utah, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Comedy Drama, Road Movie, Satire, Romance, Drama, Comedy
Key Collaborators: Michael Haller (Production Designer), Haskell Wexler (Cinematographer), Robert C. Jones (Editor), Robert Towne (Screenwriter), Caleb Deschanel (Cinematographer), Don Zimmerman (Editor), Edward A. Warschilka (Editor), William A. Sawyer (Editor), Lee Grant (Leading Character Actress), Jack Warden (Leading Character Actor), Randy Quaid (Leading Character Actor), Johnny Mandel (Composer)

“Noted throughout his career as a director with whom actors loved to work, Ashby inauspiciously started in the movie business as an office clerk at Universal Studios. Working his way up to assistant editor by the 1960s, Ashby became a full-fledged editor on Tony Richardson’s The Loved One (1965).” - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
“The 1960s produced an important generation of directors, who turned a harsher and more penetrating lens on U.S. culture, and Hal Ashby, despite his propensity for maudlin melodrama, must be counted a central member of the group… By the 1980s Ashby’s output was in decline. He became unreliable because of his alcohol and drug habit. He collapsed while making the Rolling Stones concert film Let’s Spend the Night Together (1983), and made only a few more films.” - R. Barton Palmer (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
“The films of William Hal Ashby exude a woolly liberalism that often counteracts their good intentions and manifest ambitions. He might be seen as an archetypal child of the idealistic ‘60s, sincere, naive, and ill-equipped to deal with the political and social realities on which he seemed so keen to pronounce.” - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
“He excelled as an editor, and worked frequently with director Norman Jewison, winning an Academy Award for editing In the Heat of the Night. His own films as director have earned Ashby a reputation as a radical, though some critics consider him to be merely a smug liberal.” - The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema, 1983
"Ashby’s experience as an editor is evident; he employed a wide variety of editing effects in his films. His use of both dissolves and rapid cutting to show the passage of time in The Last Detail serves as an example of his background. His predilection for varying editing techniques could explain in part an aspect of his filmmaking that Ashby himself admitted: he did not rely on a distinctive style, but rather attempted to adapt his style to the type and subject of each film. Though he has been called a ‘‘maverick director,’’ Ashby’s career garnered him a good deal of respect from the critics, and his films did well at the box office.” - Ray Narducy (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)
“Hal Ashby began directing in 1970, using a light, loose touch that has appealed to many actors. His second film, Harold and Maude (1971), an off-the-wall black comedy about the improbable love affair of a suicidal teenager (Bud Cort) and a life-affirming old woman (Ruth Gordon), developed into a cult favorite over the years, although much of the material induces more winces than laughs.” - Ted Sennett (Great Movie Directors, 1986)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Harold and Maude (1971) , The Last Detail (1973)
Worth a Look
The Landlord (1970), Bound for Glory (1976), Being There (1979) , Let's Spend the Night Together (1982)
Approach with Caution
Coming Home (1978), Second-Hand Hearts (1981), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986)
Not Recommended
Shampoo (1975)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Harold and Maude
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