Fred Zinnemann

"Austrian-born director who came to Hollywood and won three Oscars, although his work is on the whole not as distinguished as that would suggest. Up to 1960, however, Zinnemann was always capable of coming up with a very good film after one or two misfires. After that his few films proved to be curates' eggs which by and large did not have the courage of their convictions." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)

Fred Zinnemann

Director
(1907-1997) Born April 29, Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria)
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: USA, UK
Key Genres: Drama, War Drama, Mystery, Detective Film, Western, Crime
Key Collaborators: Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Stanley Kramer (Producer), Georges Delerue (Composer), Dimitri Tiomkin (Composer), Rudolph Sternad (Production Designer), Van Heflin (Leading Actor), Deborah Kerr (Leading Actress), Montgomery Clift (Leading Actor), Carl Foreman (Screenwriter), Jack Chertok (Producer), Robert Surtees (Cinematographer), William Lyon (Editor)

"Zinnemann repeatedly treated serious themes - from the plight of children in ravaged postwar Berlin in The Search and the disillusionment of paraplegic war veterans in The Men to the challenges to religious faith in The Nun's Story and A Man for All Seasons - often depending on authentic locations and literary sources for prestige. While he was adept with actors (his casting could be surprisingly adventurous), his attempts at realism could be swamped by cautious tastefulness." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"Advocates of the auteur school of filmmaking have found it difficult to accommodate industry veteran Fred Zinnemann. But at his best, Zinnemann represents the genius of the system. He was a collaborator from the beginning. Inspired when he viewed Erich von Stroheim and King Vidor's films in Vienna, he abandoned law studies to break into the movies, taking up assistant cameraman duties in Berlin and Paris." - Richard Armstrong (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Zinnemann's work has been criticized as often being plodding, uninspired, humorless, and emotionally distant. He is acknowledged, however, as a sincere and conscientious director who has mastered his craft and has worked hard at maintaining high professional standards. He has indisputably enriched the American screen with several important productions." - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
"An American director of considerable importance in the Forties and Fifties whose work since 1953 has lapsed into conscientious academicism… However, his failings do not justify the indignities heaped on him by certain critics who have lavished praise on Kazan and Wilder." - Georges Sadoul (Dictionary of Film Makers, 1972)
"A realist director with a simple style of filming which usually results in slow, methodically paced productions. His work seeks truth and humanity, but in a quiet way." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“In spite of the many consistencies and high quality that characterize his work, Zinnemann has been perceived by some critics - citing the many different genres he has embraced - to be a director for all seasons rather than an "auteur." Even his less sure-footed forays into film noir, melodrama, musicals and panoramic romance cannot outweigh Zinnemann's major efforts, which assure his reputation as one of America's most accomplished directors.” - Doris Toumarkine (The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992)
"Genteel director who has never been popular with the auteurists, but has to his credit four Oscars and a number of classic films to assuage the pain… His collaboration with producer Stanley Kramer resulted in his best-known films: The Men (1950, which introduced Marlon Brando to moviegoers), High Noon (the famous "anti-Western" starring Gary Cooper, for which he snared his second Oscar nomination), The Member of the Wedding (both 1952), and From Here to Eternity (1953, a passion-charged drama set in pre-WW2 Hawaii that won Zinnemann his first Oscar - and another for Best Picture)." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
"Zinnemann's best features are humanistic and naturalistic movies. Although concerned with psychological, political, and social issues, they remain very entertaining." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
High Noon (1952)
Recommended
The Search (1948), The Men (1950), From Here to Eternity (1953), A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Worth a Look
Kid Glove Killer (1942), The Seventh Cross (1944), Act of Violence (1949) ✖︎, The Member of the Wedding (1952), The Sundowners (1960), The Day of the Jackal (1973)
Approach with Caution
Forbidden Passage (1941), Eyes in the Night (1942), Oklahoma! (1955), The Nun's Story (1959), Julia (1977)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Fred Zinnemann / Favourite Films
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Lewis Milestone, Battleship Potemkin (1925) Sergei Eisenstein, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) David Lean, The Crowd (1928) King Vidor, La Grande illusion (1937) Jean Renoir, Greed (1924) Erich von Stroheim, Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith, M (1931) Fritz Lang, My Darling Clementine (1946) John Ford, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Carl Theodor Dreyer, Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa, Stagecoach (1939) John Ford.
Source: Time Out (1995)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    High Noon
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