William Friedkin

"William Friedkin was a central figure in the "New Hollywood" movement of the 1970s. Subsequent work has been patchy, both critically and commercially, but has proved provocative and, sometimes, distinctive." - Neil Jackson (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

William Friedkin

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1939- ) Born August 29, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Police Detective Film, Thriller, Crime Thriller, Drama, Action Thriller, Crime
Key Collaborators: Bud Smith (Editor), Roy Scheider (Leading Actor), Tracy Letts (Screenwriter), Owen Roizman (Cinematographer), Jerry Greenberg (Editor), Darrin Navarro (Editor), Jack Nitzche (Composer), Franco-Giacomo Carbone (Production Designer), Joe Spinell (Character Actor), Ed O'Neill (Character Actor)

"In many of the films of William Friedkin, there is an element of sensationalism that suggests not only the commercial sense of an opportunist but also the absence of artistic vision. Compared to the other 'whizz kids' who came to prominence in American cinema during the '70s, he seems singularly without personality... Friedkins' dependence on violent physical action points up his poor sense of narrative and character. Any pretensions he has to seriousness are undermined by his films' repeated inability to transcend two-dimensional caricature and cliched situations." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"A brilliant technician, Friedkin struck pay-dirt with two blockbusters in three years, The French Connection (1971), with its famous (and illegal - Friedkin had not asked permission to film where and what he did) car chase, and The Exorcist (1973), a green-vomit-stained masterpiece of inspired exploitation which spawned a host of inferior copies, and which totally changed the way Hollywood viewed word-of-mouth advertising." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"Friedkin cut his directorial teeth in television and documentary. Alongside other 'new' Hollywood directors such as Coppola and De Palma, Friedkin fought against many aspects of the Hollywood system." - The Movie Book, 1999
"Entering the cinema in 1967, he made four modest films, among them a pleasant piece of theatrical nostalgia in The Night They Raided Minsky's, followed by two enormous box-office successes, The French Connection and The Exorcist. These two made Friedkin a desirable acquisition, but they are flashy, vulgar films, contemptuous in their exploitation of the easy shock." - The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema, 1983
"The success, both critical and commercial, of William Friedkin’s films has been uneven since the release of his first feature in 1967. Although his works span several different genres, they share some common thematic and technical characteristics. His heroes are nontraditional and find themselves in unconventional situations or environments foreign to the average viewer. Technically, Friedkin often seems more concerned with creating mood and establishing atmosphere than with the progress of the narrative or character development. His great attention to detail and characteristic use of long establishing shot sequences do create mood and atmosphere but often do not contribute to the film as a whole." - Mari Saeli (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)
"Out of television and into movies, William Friedkin has impressed mainly with his energy for hustling up projects, several that would have been better left to rest, but two of which—The French Connection and The Exorcist—put him, temporarily at least, on top of the creaking, swaying pile. Friedkin looks like a jumped-up TV director, glib enough to make a credo out of price-cutting and convinced that the zoom and the insistent violence of unexpected images need only a raw feeling for sensation to outflank traditional requirements of construction and meaning." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
"In the 1980s, Friedkin floundered: it almost seemed that the man had no shame, making just about anything on offer and ending the decade with a (bad) horror film about a man-eating tree." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
The French Connection (1971) ✖︎, The Exorcist (1973) , Sorcerer (1977)
Worth a Look
The Boys in the Band (1970)
Approach with Caution
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) ✖︎, Rampage (1988), Blue Chips (1994), Bug (2006) , Killer Joe (2011)
Not Recommended
Cruising (1980)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
William Friedkin / Favourite Films
8½ (1963) Federico Fellini, All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Blowup (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni, Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, Jesus of Montreal (1989) Denys Arcand, Last Tango in Paris (1972) Bernardo Bertolucci, Paths of Glory (1957) Stanley Kubrick, Singin' in the Rain (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick.
Source: Sight & Sound (1992)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Exorcist
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