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The Life and Films of John Sturges
“Pick up a copy of film critic and scholar Glenn Lovell’s terrific new Sturges biography, Escape Artist. . . . I can’t urge you enough to check out this interview-rich, aesthetically and culturally perceptive look at the filmmaker and his work.” — Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News
“John Sturges was one of cinema’s greatest action directors. His pioneering mastery of the wide screen process is unparalleled. For my money, he’s also a candidate for one of last century’s most underrated directors, period. Glenn Lovell’s examination of Sturges’s life and films finally corrects this error.” — John Carpenter
“Lovell’s list of interviewees reads like a who’s who of Hollywood and they obviously provided rich source material for this full-scale biography and career survey.”— Leonard Maltin
“This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.”— Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies (TCM.com)
“John Sturges is the most underrated director in the history of Hollywood” — producer Robert E. Relyea
Escape Artist—based on Glenn Lovell’s extensive interviews with John Sturges, his wife and children, and numerous stars including Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, and Jane Russell—is the first biography of the director of such acclaimed films as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and Bad Day at Black Rock. Lovell examines Sturges’s childhood in California during the Great Depression; his apprenticeship in the editing department of RKO Pictures, where he worked on such films as Gunga Din and Of Human Bondage; his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II; and his emergence as one of the first independent producer-directors in Hollywood.
Chronicling the filmmaker’s relationships with such luminaries as Spencer Tracy, James Garner, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra, Escape Artist interweaves biography with critical analyses of Sturges’s hits and misses. Along the way, Lovell addresses the reasons why Sturges has been overlooked in the ongoing discussion of postwar Hollywood and explores the director’s focus on masculinity, machismo, and male-bonding in big-budget, ensemble action films. Lovell also examines Sturges’s aesthetic sensibility, his talent for composing widescreen images, and his uncanny ability to judge raw talent—including that of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, all of whom began their careers in Sturges’s movies.
This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.
“We don’t need more books on Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, but we do need more books like Glenn Lovell’s reasoned, insightful biography of John Sturges, one of American movies’ best directors of character-driven action movies. Sturges was the successor to accomplished directorial pros like Victor Fleming and Henry Hathaway, and films like The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape were his best testament . . . until Lovell’s book.”—Scott Eyman, author of Lion of Hollywood: The Life of Louis B. Mayer
Glenn Lovell is the former film critic for the San Jose Mercury News. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Variety, and Columbia Journalism Review. He teaches film studies at De Anza College and other schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. He contributed to Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle.
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