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Penn, Arthur 1922–

Penn, Arthur 1922–


Full name, Arthur Hiller Penn; born September 27, 1922, in Philadelphia, PA; son of Harry (a watch repairer) and Sonia (a nurse; maiden name, Greenberg) Penn; brother of Irving Penn (a photographer); married Peggy Maurer (a therapist), January 27, 1955; children: Matthew (a director), Molly. Education: Attended Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC, 1947-48, and Universities of Perugia and Florence, Italy, 1949-50; studied at Actors Studio; trained for the stage with Michael Chekhov.


Contact—Bell and Co., 535 Fifth Ave., 21st Floor, New York, NY 10017-3610.


Director, producer, actor, and writer. Worked for a Philadelphia, PA, radio station in the 1940s; Soldiers Show Company, Paris, member of company, 1945; NBC-TV, New York City, worked as a floor manager for Colgate Comedy Hour, c. 1952; associated with Berkshire Theatre, Stockbridge, MA, 1966; Actors Studio, New York City, teacher, president, 1994-2000, president emeritus, 2000—. Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC, faculty member, 1947. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1943-45.

Awards, Honors:

Grand Prize, Brussels Film Festival, 1958, for The Left-Handed Gun; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best director, 1958, for Two for the Seesaw; Emmy Award nomination, best director of a television program of one hour or more, 1958, and Sylvania Award, television directing, 1959, both for "The Miracle Worker," Playhouse 90; Sylvania Award, television directing, 1959, for Man on a Mountain Top; Drama Critics Circle Award, best musical, 1959, for Fiorello!; Antoinette Perry Award, best director of a dramatic play, 1960, for The Miracle Worker (stage version); Drama Critics Circle Award, best director of a drama, 1960, Toys in the Attic; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best director of a dramatic play, and Drama Critics Circle Award, both 1961, for All the Way Home; OCIC Award of International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual, San Sebastian International Film Festival, 1962, Academy Award nomination, best director, 1963, and Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding director of a motion picture, 1963, all for The Miracle Worker (film version); nomination for Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival, 1965, for Mickey One; Academy Award nomination, best director, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture director, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding director of a motion picture, Bodil Award, best non-European film, Film Award nomination, best film from any source, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden and Grand Jury Prize, Mar del Plata Film Festival, all 1968, and Kinema Junpo Awards, best foreign language film and best director of a foreign language film, 1969, all for Bonnie and Clyde; Academy Award nomination, best director, and Screen Award nomination (with Venable Herndon), best drama written directly for the screen, Writers Guild of America, both 1970, for Alice's Restaurant; nominations for Golden Laurel Award, best director, Producers Guild of America, 1970 and 1971; special mention for FIPRESCI Prize, Moscow International Film Festival, 1971, for Little Big Man; nomination for Golden Spike, Valladolid International Film Festival, 1996, for Inside; Akira Kurosawa Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1996; Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding drama series, 2001, for Law & Order; Career Achievement Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, 2002; Joseph L. Mankiewicz Excellence in Filmmaking Award, Director's View Film Festival, 2003; Savannah Film and Video Festival Award, outstanding achievement in cinema, 2003; honorary Golden Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, 2007.


Film Director:

The Left-Handed Gun, Warner Bros., 1958.

The Miracle Worker, United Artists, 1962.

(Uncredited) The Train (also known as John Frankenheimer's "The Train," Le train, and Il treno), 1964.

(And producer) Mickey One, Columbia, 1965.

The Chase, Columbia, 1966.

Bonnie and Clyde (also known as Bonnie and Clyde … Were Killers!), Warner Bros., 1967.

Alice's Restaurant, United Artists, 1969.

Little Big Man, National General, 1970.

"The Highest," Visions of Eight (documentary; also known as Olympic Visions, Muenchen 1972—8 beruehmte Regisseure sehen die Spiele der XX. Olympiade, and Olympiade Muenchen 1972), 1973.

Night Moves, Warner Bros., 1975.

The Missouri Breaks, United Artists, 1976.

(And coproducer) Four Friends (also known as Georgia's Friends), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1981.

Target, Warner Bros., 1985.

Dead of Winter, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1987.

(And producer) Penn & Teller Get Killed (also known as Dead Funny), Warner Bros., 1989.

Lumiere et compagnie (documentary; also known as Lumiere y compania and Lumiere and Company), 1995.

Film Appearances:

Naked in New York (documentary), Fine Line, 1994.

Arthur Penn (documentary), 1995.

In the Shadow of Hollywood (documentary); also known as A l'ombre d'Hollywood), National Film Board of Canada, 2000.

Small man, On a Shoestring (short film), 2004.

Stage Director:

Blue Denim, Westport, CT, 1956.

The Lovers, Broadway production, 1957.

Two for the Seesaw, Haymarket Theatre, London, 1958, then Booth Theatre, New York City, 1958-59.

The Miracle Worker, Playhouse Theatre, New York City, 1959-61.

Toys in the Attic, Hudson Theatre, New York City, 1960-61.

An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, John Golden Theatre, New York City, 1960-61.

All the Way Home, Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1960-61.

In the Counting House, Biltmore Theatre, New York City, 1962.

My Mother, My Father, and Me, Broadway production, 1962-63.

Lorenzo, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1963.

Golden Boy (musical), Majestic Theatre, New York City, 1964-66.

Wait Until Dark, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Shubert Theatre, George Abbott Theatre, and Music Box Theatre, all New York City, 1966.

Felix, Broadway production, 1972.

Sly Fox, Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 1976-78.

Golda, Morosco Theatre, New York City, 1977-78.

Monday after the Miracle, Eugene O'Neill Theatre, New York City, 1982.

Hunting Cockroaches, Manhattan Theatre Club Stage I, New York City, 1987.

One of the Guys, New York Shakespeare Festival, Estelle R. Newman Theatre, Public Theatre, New York City, 1990.

Fortune's Fool, Music Box Theatre, New York City, then Truglia Theatre, Stamford Center for the Arts, Stamford, CT, both 2002.

Sly Fox, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 2004.

Stage Work; Other:

Executive producer, The Silent Partner, Actors Studio, New York City, 1972.

Television Work; Series:

Director, Playhouse 90, CBS, multiple episodes (including "The Miracle Worker"), 1957-58.

Executive producer, Law & Order, NBC, 2000-2001.

Television Director; Movies:

(And producer) Flesh and Blood, NBC, 1968.

The Portrait (also known as Painting Churches), TNT, 1993.

Inside, 1996.

Television Director; Episodic:

"The Tears of My Sister," Gulf Playhouse (also known as Gulf Playhouse: First Person), NBC, 1953.

"The Lawn Party," Goodyear Television Playhouse (also known as Goodyear Playhouse), 1954.

"Adapt or Die," Philco Television Playhouse (also known as Arena Theatre, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, and Repertory Theatre), NBC, 1954.

"Beg, Borrow, or Steal," Philco Television Playhouse (also known as Arena Theatre, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, and Repertory Theatre), NBC, 1954.

"The Fix," 100 Centre Street, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Arthur Penn, 1922-: Themes and Variants, 1970.

Hello Actors Studio, 1987.

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies, 1995.

Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval, 1995.

Marlon Brando: The Wild One, AMC, 1996.

"Take Two: Mike Nichols and Elaine May" (also known as "Nichols and May: Take Two"), American Masters, PBS, 1996.

The Moviemakers: Arthur Penn, 1996.M

Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud, 1996.

Searching for Arthur, 1998.

Sammy Davis Jr.: The E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

(Uncredited) Reel Radicals: The Sixties Revolution in Film, AMC, 2002.

AFI's 100 Years … 100 Heroes & Villains (also known as AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains: America's Greatest Screen Characters), CBS, 2003.

"Patty Duke," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2003.

Edge of Outside, TCM, 2006.

Brando, TCM, 2007.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1994, 1999.

American Cinema, 1995.

Ketzwayo, "The Umpatra," BeastMaster, 1999.

Ketzwayo, "Circle of Life," BeastMaster, 1999.

"Today Is a Good Day: Remembering Chief Dan George," Life and Times, 1999.

"Gene Hackman," Bravo Profiles, Bravo, 2000.

"Brando," Imagine, BBC, 2004.

(In archive footage) Cinema mil, 2005.



(With William Gibson) The Miracle Worker (adapted from Gibson's television special), United Artists, 1962.

(With Venable Herndon) Alice's Restaurant, United Artists, 1969, published by Doubleday, 1970.

Television Episodes:

Philco Television Playhouse (also known as Arena Theatre, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, and Repertory Theatre), NBC, 1955—.


Fiorello! (musical), 1959.


Contributor to periodicals.



Cawelti, John, editor, Focus on Bonnie and Clyde, Prentice-Hall, 1973.

Haustrate, Gaston, Arthur Penn, 1986.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, St. James Press, 1996.

Kolker, Robert, A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Stone, Kubrick, Scorsese, Spielberg, Altman, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Vernaglione, Paolo, Arthur Penn, 1988.

Wood, Robin, Arthur Penn, Studio Vista, 1967, Praeger, 1969.

Zuker, Joel Stewart, Arthur Penn: A Guide to References and Resources, G. K. Hall, 1980.


American Film, December, 1981.

Los Angeles Times, February 9, 1985.

New York, December 8, 1980.

Playbill, April 30, 2002, pp. 16-17.


Arthur Penn, 1922-: Themes and Variants (television special), 1970.

Arthur Penn (documentary film), 1995.

The Moviemakers: Arthur Penn (television special), 1996.

Searching for Arthur (television special), 1998.

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"Penn, Arthur 1922–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Penn, Arthur

PENN, Arthur

Nationality: American. Born: Philadelphia, 27 September 1922. Education: Black Mountain College, North Carolina, 1947–48; studied at Universities of Perugia and Florence, 1949–50; trained for the stage with Michael Chekhov. Military Service: Enlisted in Army, 1943; joined Soldiers Show Company, Paris, 1945. Family: Married actress Peggy Maurer, 1955, one son, one daughter. Career: Assistant director on The Colgate Comedy Hour, 1951–52; TV director, from 1953, working on Gulf Playhouse: 1st Person (NBC), Philco Television Playhouse (NBC), and Playhouse 90 (CBS); directed first feature, The Left-handed Gun, 1958; director on Broadway, from 1958. Awards: Tony Award for stage version of The Miracle Worker; two Sylvania Awards. Address: c/o 2 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023, U.S.A.

Films as Director:


The Left-handed Gun


The Miracle Worker


Mickey One (+ pr)


The Chase


Bonnie and Clyde


Alice's Restaurant (+ co-sc)


Little Big Man (+ pr)


"The Highest," in Visions of 8


Night Moves


The Missouri Breaks


Four Friends




Dead of Winter


Penn and Teller Get Killed (+ pr)


The Portrait (for TV)


Lumière et compagnie




By PENN: articles—

"Rencontre avec Arthur Penn," with André Labarthe and others, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), October 1965.

"Bonnie and Clyde: Private Morality and Public Violence," in TakeOne (Montreal), vol. 1, no. 6, 1967.

Interview with Michael Lindsay, in Cinema (Beverly Hills), vol. 5, no. 3, 1969.

Interview in The Director's Event by Eric Sherman and Martin Rubin, New York, 1970.

"Metaphor," an interview with Gordon Gow, in Films and Filming (London), July 1971.

"Arthur Penn at the Olympic Games," an interview in AmericanCinematographer (Los Angeles), November 1972.

"Night Moves," an interview with T. Gallagher, in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1975.

"Arthur Penn ou l'anti-genre," an interview with Claire Clouzot, in Ecran (Paris), December 1976.

Interview with R. Seidman and N. Leiber, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), December 1981.

Interview with A. Leroux, in 24 Images (Montreal), June 1983.

Interview with Richard Combs, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), August 1986.

"1968–1988," in Film Comment (New York), August 1988.

"L'Amerique qui change: entretien avec Arthur Penn," with P. Merenghetti, in Jeune Cinema, October/November 1990.

"The Importance of a Singular, Guiding Vision," an interview with Gary Crowdus and Richard Porton, in Cineaste (New York), 1993.

"Acteurs et metteurs en scène: Metteurs en scène et acteurs," in Positif (Paris), June 1994.

"L'occhio aperto," an interview with G. Garlazzo, in Filmcritica (Siena), May 1997.

"Song of the Open Road," an interview with Geoffrey Macnab, in Sight and Sound (London), August 1999.

On PENN: books—

Wood, Robin, Arthur Penn, New York, 1969.

Marchesini, Mauro, and Gaetano Stucchi, Cinque film di ArthurPenn, Turin, 1972.

Cawelti, John, editor, Focus on Bonnie and Clyde, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973.

Carlini, Fabio, Arthur Penn, Milan, 1977.

Kolker, Robert Phillip, A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick,Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Oxford, 1980; revised edition, 1988.

Zuker, Joel S., Arthur Penn: A Guide to References and Resources, Boston, 1980.

Giannetti, Louis D., Masters of the American Cinema, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1981.

Haustrate, Gaston, Arthur Penn, Paris, 1986.

Vernaglione, Paolo, Arthur Penn, Florence, 1988.

Kindem, Gorham, The Live Television Generation of Hollywood FilmDirectors, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 1994.

On PENN: articles—

Hillier, Jim, "Arthur Penn," in Screen (London), January/February 1969.

Gelmis, Joseph, "Arthur Penn," in The Film Director as Superstar, New York, 1970.

Wood, Robin, "Arthur Penn in Canada," in Movie (London), Winter 1970/71.

Margulies, Lee, "Filming the Olympics," in Action (Los Angeles), November/December 1972.

"Le Gaucher Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), November 1973.

Byron, Stuart, and Terry Curtis Fox, "What Is a Western?," in FilmComment (New York), July/August 1976.

Butler, T., "Arthur Penn: The Flight from Identity," in Movie (London), Winter 1978/79.

Penn Section of Casablanca (Madrid), March 1982.

"TV to Film: A History, a Map, and a Family Tree," in Monthly FilmBulletin (London), February 1983.

Gallagher, J., and J. Hanc, "Penn's Westerns," in Films in Review (New York), August/September 1983.

Camy, G., "Arthur Penn: Un regard sévère sur les U.S.A. des années 60–70," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), April 1985.

Andrew, Geoff, "The Shootist," in Time Out (London), 13 August 1986.

Matheson, Nigel, "Arthur Penn," in City Limits (London), 21 August 1986.

Richards, P., "Arthur Penn: A One-Film Director?" in Film, October 1987.

Knowles, Peter C., "Genre and Authorship: Two Films of Arthur Penn," in CineAction! (Toronto), Summer/Autumn 1990.

McCloy, Sean, "Focus on Arthur Penn," in Film West (Dublin), July 1995.

Kock, I. de, "Arthur Penn," in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), November 1996.

Lally, K., "'Inside' with Arthur Penn," in Film Journal (New York), January/February 1997.

Elia, Maurice, "Bonnie and Clyde," in Séquences (Haute-Ville), July-August 1997.

* * *

Arthur Penn has often been classed—along with Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, and Francis Coppola—among the more "European" American directors. Stylistically, this is true enough. Penn's films, especially after Bonnie and Clyde, tend to be technically experimental, and episodic in structure; their narrative line is elliptical, under-mining audience expectations with abrupt shifts in mood and rhythm. Such features can be traced to the influence of the French New Wave, in particular the early films of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, which Penn greatly admired.

In terms of his thematic preoccupations, though, few directors are more utterly American. Repeatedly, throughout his work, Penn has been concerned with questioning and re-assessing the myths of his country. His films reveal a passionate, ironic, intense involvement with the American experience, and can be seen as an illuminating chart of the country's moral condition over the past thirty years. Mickey One is dark with the unfocused guilt and paranoia of the McCarthyite hangover, while the stunned horror of the Kennedy assassination reverberates through The Chase. The exhilaration, and the fatal flaws, of the 1960s anti-authoritarian revolt are reflected in Bonnie and Clyde and Alice's Restaurant. Little Big Man reworks the trauma of Vietnam, while Night Moves is steeped in the disillusioned malaise that pervaded the Watergate era.

As a focus for his perspective on America, Penn often chooses an outsider group and its relationship with mainstream society. The Indians in Little Big Man, the Barrow Gang in Bonnie and Clyde, the rustlers in The Missouri Breaks, the hippies in Alice's Restaurant, the outlaws in The Left-handed Gun, are all sympathetically presented as attractive and vital figures, preferable in many ways to the conventional society which rejects them. But ultimately they suffer defeat, being infected by the flawed values of that same society. "A society," Penn has commented, "has its mirror in its outcasts."

An exceptionally intense, immediate physicality distinguishes Penn's work. Pain, in his films, unmistakably hurts, and tactile sensations are vividly communicated. Often, characters are conveyed primarily through their bodily actions: how they move, walk, hold themselves, or use their hands. Violence is a recurrent feature of his films—notably in The Chase, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Missouri Breaks—but it is seldom gratuitously introduced, and represents, in Penn's view, a deeply rooted element in the American character which has to be acknowledged.

Penn established his reputation as a director with Bonnie and Clyde, one of the most significant and influential films of its decade. But since 1970 he has made only a handful of films, none of them successful at the box office. Night Moves and The Missouri Breaks, both poorly received on initial release, now rank among his most subtle and intriguing movies, and Four Friends, though uneven, remains constantly stimulating with its oblique, elliptical narrative structure.

But since then Penn seems to have lost his way. Neither Target, a routine spy thriller, nor Dead of Winter, a reworking of Joseph H. Lewis's cult B-movie My Name Is Julia Ross, offered material worthy of his distinctive talents. Penn and Teller Get Killed, a spoof psycho-killer vehicle for the bad-taste illusionist team, got few showings outside the festival circuit. Among his few recent directorial works is The Portrait, a solidly crafted adaptation for television of Tina Rowe's Broadway hit, Painting Churches. "It's not that I've drifted away from film," Penn told Richard Combs in 1986. "I'm very drawn to film, but I'm not sure that film is drawn to me." Given the range, vitality, and sheer unpredictability of his earlier work, the estrangement is much to be regretted.

—Philip Kemp

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"Penn, Arthur." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Penn, Arthur Hiller

Arthur Hiller Penn, 1922–2010, American director, brother of Irving Penn, b. Philadelphia; studied Black Mountain College and the Actors' Studio, Los Angeles. Penn, who often dealt with themes of alienation in American life, began directing dramas for live television during the early 1950s. His Broadway credits include Two for the Seesaw (1958), The Miracle Worker (1959, Tony Award; also dir. 1957 telecast and 1962 film), Toys in the Attic (1960), and Wait until Dark (1966). His first film, The Left-Handed Gun (1958), a psychologically probing study of Billy the Kid, was also an adaptation of a television drama and dealt with a social outsider, a theme which recurs frequently in his other films. Penn's masterpiece, Bonnie and Clyde (1967), is a darkly brilliant study of Depression-era outlaws that combines high drama with comedy, explicit sexual content, social comment, and extreme violence. The film paved the way for such practitioners of the "New American Cinema" of the 1970s as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert Altman. Displaying an offbeat take on several screen genres, his other movies include Micky One (1965), The Chase (1966), Alice's Restaurant (1969), Little Big Man (1970), Night Moves (1975), and The Missouri Breaks (1976). Among his later, less commercially successful films are Four Friends (1981), Dead of Winter (1987), and Inside (1996).

See M. Chaiken and P. Cronin, ed., Arthur Penn: Interviews (2008); L. D. Friedman, ed., Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (2000); studies by R. Wood (1969) and J. S. Zuker (1980).

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"Penn, Arthur Hiller." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 18 Dec. 2017 <>.

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