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Forman, Milos


Nationality: Czech. Born: Kaslov, Czechoslovakia, 18 February 1932, became U.S. citizen, 1975. Education: Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Prague, and at Film Academy (FAMU), Prague, 1951–56. Family: Married 1) Jana Brejchová, 1951 (divorced, 1956); 2) Vera Kresadlova, 1964 (divorced), two sons (twins), Matej and Petr; 3) Martina Zborilova, 28 November 1999, two sons (twins), Andrew and James (b. 1998). Career: Collaborated on screenplay for Frič's Leave It to Me, 1956; theatre director for Laterna Magika, Prague, 1958–62; directed first feature, Black Peter, 1963; moved to New York, 1969, after collapse of Dubcek government in Czechoslovakia; co-director of Columbia University Film Division, from 1975. Awards: Czechoslovak Film Critics' Prize, for Black Peter, 1963; Grand Prix Locarno, for Black Peter, 1964; Czechoslovak State Prize, 1967; Grand Prize of the Jury, Cannes Film Festival, for Taking Off, 1971 (tied with Johnny Got His Gun); Oscar for Best Director, and Best Director Award, Directors Guild of America, and Silver Ribbon Award, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Oscar for Best Director, for Amadeus,

1984; Golden Globe (USA) and Cesar (France) for Best Foreign Film, and Silver Ribbon, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, for Best Director, Foreign Film, for Amadeus, 1985; Golden Globe for Best Director, for The People vs. Larry Flynt, 1997; Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, European Film Awards, for The People vs. Larry Flynt, 1997 Golden Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, for The People vs Larry Flynt, 1997; Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, 1997; Silver Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, for Man on the Moon, 2000; Lifetime Achievement Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2000. Agent: Robert Lantz, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10106, U.S.A. Address: Milos Forman, The Hampshire House, 150 Central Park South, New York, NY10019, U.S.A.

Films as Director:


Cerný Petr (Black Peter; Peter and Pavla); (+ co-sc); Konkurs (Talent Competition) (+ co-sc)


Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde) (+ co-sc); Dobrě placená procházka (A Well–Paid Stroll) (+ co-sc)


Hoří, má panenko (The Firemen's Ball) (+ co-sc)


Taking Off (+ co-sc)


"Decathlon" segment of Visions of Eight (+ co-sc)


One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest










People vs. Larry Flynt


The Little Black Book; Man on the Moon

Other Films:


Nechte to na mně (Leave It to Me) (Frič) (+ co-sc); Dědeček automobil (Old Man Motorcar) (Radok) (asst d, role)


Stěnata (The Puppies) (+ co-sc)


Tam za lesem (Beyond the Forest) (Blumenfeld) (asst d, role as the physician)


La Pine à ongles (Carrière) (+ co-sc)


Le Mâle du siècle (Berri) (story)


Heartburn (Nichols) (role)


New Year's Day (Jaglom) (role)


Dreams of Love (pr)


Why Havel? (Jasny) (narrator)


L'Envers du décor: Portrait de Pierre Guffoy (Salis) (role)


Heavy (Mangold) (misc. crew)


Who Is Henry Jaglom? (Rubin and Workman) (role, as Himself)


Cannesples 400 coups (Nadeau—for TV) (role, as Himself)


V centru filmu—v temple domova (Janecek and Marek—for TV) (role, as Himself)


Way Past Cool (Davidson) (pr); Keeping the Faith (Norton) (role)


By FORMAN: books—

Taking Off, with John Guare and others, New York, 1971.

Milos Forman, with others, London, 1972.

Turnaround: A Memoir, with Jan Novak, New York, 1994.

By FORMAN: articles—

"Closer to Things," in Cahiers du Cinéma in English (New York), January 1967.

Interview with Galina Kopaněvová, in Film a Doba (Prague), no. 8, 1968.

Interview, in The Film Director as Superstar, edited by Joseph Gelmis, New York, 1970.

"Getting the Great Ten Percent," an interview with Harriet Polt, in Film Comment (New York), Fall 1970.

"A Czech in New York," an interview with Gordon Gow, in Filmsand Filming (London), September 1971.

Interview in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), November 1972.

Interview with L. Sturhahn, in Filmmakers Newsletter (Ward Hill, Massachusetts), December 1975.

"Milos Forman: An American Film Institute Seminar on His Work," 1977.

Interview with T. McCarthy, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1979.

Interview with Michel Ciment, in Positif (Paris), July/August 1979.

"How Amadeus Was Translated from Play to Film," an interview with M. Kakutani, in New York Times, 16 September 1984.

"The Czech Bounces Back," interview with C. Hodenfeld in RollingStone (New York), 27 September 1984.

Interview with Michel Ciment, in Positif (Paris), November 1984.

Interview in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1984.

Forman, Milos, "Celui a qui on pense en secret," in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), December 1984.

Interview in Films (London), March 1985.

Interview with T.J. Slater, in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), Spring/Summer and Fall 1985.

"What's Wrong with Today's Films," an interview with J. Kearney, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), May 1986.

Interview in Première (Paris), July 1987.

Interview with Michel Ciment, in Positif (Paris), December 1989.

Forman, Milos, "L'opera muet," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1991 (supplement).

Interview with Nell Scovell, in Vanity Fair (New York), February 1994.

Interview with Holly Millea, "Warning: Material Is of an Adult Nature. This Literature Is Not Intended for Minors" in Premiere (New York), December 1996.

Interview with Cédric Anger and Frédéric Strauss, in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), February 1997.

"Porn Again: The People vs. Larry Flynt," an interview with Richard Porton, in Cineaste (New York), March 1997.

"Porn in the USA," an interview with David Eimer, in Time Out (London), 26 March 1997.

"Defender of the Artist and the Common Man," an interview with Kevin Lewis, in DGA Magazine (Los Angeles), March-April 1997.

Interview with Rachel Abramowitz, in Premiere (Boulder), January 2000.

Interview with Courtney Love, in Interview (New York), January 2000.

Interview with Ian Spelling, "Hello, My Name Is Andy and This Is My Feature," in Film Review (London), March 2000.

On FORMAN: books—

Boček, Jaroslav, Modern Czechoslovak Film 1945–1965, Prague, 1965.

Skvorecký, Josef, All the Bright Young Men and Women, Toronto, 1971.

Henstell, Bruce, editor, Milos Forman, Ingrid Thulin, Washington, D.C., 1972.

Liehm, Antonín, Closely Watched Films, White Plains, New York, 1974.

Liehm, Antonín, The Milos Forman Stories, White Plains, New York, 1975.

Vecchi, Paolo, Milos Forman, Florence, 1981

Slater, Thomas, Milos Forman: A Bio-Bibliography, New York, 1987.

Liehm, Antonin, Pribehy Milos Forman, Prague, 1993.

On FORMAN: articles—

Dyer, Peter, "Star-crossed in Prague," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1965/66.

Bor, Vladimír, "Formanovský film a nekteré předsudky" ["The Formanesque Film and Some Prejudices"], in Film a Doba (Prague), no. 1, 1967.

Effenberger, Vratislav, "Obraz človeka v českém film" ["The Portrayal of Man in the Czech Cinema"], in Film a Doba (Prague), no. 7, 1968.

"Director of the Year," International Film Guide (London and New York), 1969.

Combs, Richard, "Sentimental Journey," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1977.

Baker, B., "Milos Forman," in Film Dope (London), April 1979.

Cameron, J., "Milos Forman and Hair: Styling the Age of Aquarius," in Rolling Stone (New York), 19 April 1979.

Stein, H., "A Day in the Life: Milos Forman: Moment to Moment with the Director of Hair," in Esquire (New York), 8 May 1979.

Holloway, Ron, "Columbia U.'s Film School Now Attracts Europe's Helmers," in Variety (New York), 14 January 1981.

Buckley, T., "The Forman Formula," in New York Times, 1 March 1981.

Kennedy, Harlan, "Ragtime: Milos Forman Searches for the Right Key," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), December 1981.

Quart, Leonard, and Barbara Quart, "Ragtime without a Melody," in Literature-Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 10, no. 2, 1982.

Kamm, M., "Milos Forman Takes His Camera and Amadeus to

Prague," in New York Times, 29 May 1983.

Jacobson, H., "Mostly Mozart: As Many Notes as Required," in FilmComment (New York), September/October 1984.

Harmetz, Aljean, "Film Makers in a Race over Les liaisons," in NewYork Times, 10 February 1988.

"Four Who've Made It," in Variety (New York), 25 October 1989.

Dudar, Helen, "Milos Forman Takes a New Look at Old Loves," in New York Times, 12 November 1989.

Goodman, Walter, "Forman in His Own and Others' Words," in NewYork Times, 22 December 1989.

Warchol, T., "The Rebel Figure in Milos Forman's American Films," in New Orleans Review, 1990.

Wharton, Dennis, "Top Directors Get behind Film-labeling Legislation," in Variety, July 29, 1991.

Cohn, L., "A Tale of Two Expatriate Filmmakers," in Variety (New York), 29 January 1992.

Newman, Kim, review of People vs. Larry Flynt in Empire (London), May 1997.

Jensen, Jeff, "Moon Landing," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 10 December 1999.

McCarthy, Todd, "'Moon' Trip Revelation: There's No There There," in Variety (New York), 13 December 1999.

Travers, Peter, "Man on the Moon," in Rolling Stone (New York), 30 December 1999.

On FORMAN: film—

Weingarten, Mira, Meeting Milos Forman, U.S., 1971.

* * *

In the context of Czechoslovak cinema in the early 1960s, Milos Forman's first films (Black Peter and Talent Competition) amounted to a revolution. Influenced by Czech novelists who revolted against the establishment's aesthetic dogmas in the late 1950s rather than by Western cinema (though the mark of late neorealism, in particular Ermanno Olmi, is visible), Forman introduced to the cinema after 1948 (the year of the Communist coup) portrayals of working-class life untainted by the formulae of socialist realism.

Though Forman was fiercely attacked by Stalinist reviewers initially, the more liberal faction of the Communist Party, then in ascendancy, appropriated Forman's movies as expressions of the new concept of "socialist" art. Together with great box office success and an excellent reputation gained at international festivals, these circumstances transformed Forman into the undisputed star of the Czech New Wave. His style was characterized by a sensitive use of nonactors (usually coupled with professionals); refreshing, natural-sounding, semi-improvised dialogue that reflected Forman's intimate knowledge of the milieu he was capturing on the screen; and an unerring ear for the nuances of Czech folk-rock and music in general.

All these characteristic features of Forman's first two films are even more prominent in Loves of a Blonde, and especially in The Firemen's Ball. The latter film works equally well on one level as a realistic, humorous story and on an allegorical level that points to the aftermath of the Communist Party's decision to reveal some of the political crimes committed in the 1950s (the Slánský trial). In all these films—developed, except for Black Peter, from Forman's original ideas—he closely collaborated with scriptwriters Ivan Passer and Jaroslav Papousek, who later became directors in their own right.

Shortly after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, The Firemen's Ball was banned and Forman decided to remain in the West, where he was working on the script for what was to become the only film in which he would apply the principles of his aesthetic method and vision to indigenous American material, Taking Off. It is also his only American movie developed from his original idea; the rest are either adaptations or based on real events.

Traces of the pre-American Forman are easily recognizable in his most successful U.S. film, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, which radically changed Ken Kesey's story and—just as in the case of Papousek's novel Black Peter—brought it close to the director's own objective and comical vision. The work received an Oscar in 1975. In that year Forman became an American citizen.

The Forman touch is much less evident in his reworking of the musical Hair, and almost—though not entirely—absent from his version of E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime. The same is true of the box-office smash hit and multiple Oscar winner Amadeus, and his later adaptation, Valmont. Of marginal importance are the two remaining parts of Forman's oeuvre, The Well-Paid Stroll, a jazz opera adapted from the stage for Prague TV, and Decathlon, his contribution to the 1972 Olympic documentary Visions of Eight. Forman is a merciless observer of the comedie humaine and has often been accused of cynicism, both in Czechoslovakia and in the West. To such criticisms he answers with the words of Chekhov, pointing out that what is cruel in the first place is life itself. But apart from such arguments, the rich texture of acutely observed life and the sensitive portrayal of and apparent sympathy for people as victims—often ridiculous—of circumstances over which they wield no power, render such critical statements null and void. Forman's vision is deeply rooted in the anti-ideological, realistic, and humanist tradition of such "cynics" of Czech literature as Jaroslav Hasek (The Good Soldier Svejk), Bohumil Hrabal (Closely Watched Trains) or Josef Skvorecký (whose novel The Cowards Forman was prevented from filming by the invasion of 1968).

Although the influence of Forman's filmmaking methods may be felt even in some North American films, his lasting importance will, very probably, rest with his three Czech movies. Taking Off, a valiant attempt to show America to Americans through the eyes of a sensitive, if caustic, foreign observer, should be added to this list as well. After the mixed reception of this film, however, Forman turned to adaptations of best sellers and stage hits.

In the early 1990s Forman was inactive as a director, with a gap of almost seven years between Valmont and People vs. Larry Flynt. Valmont attempted to capture the spirit of his smash hit Amadeus but suffers in the comparison. Moreover, it was released after Stephen Frears' superior Dangerous Liaisons, adapted from the same Choderlos de Laclos novel. Forman remains an outstanding craftsman and a first-class actors' director; however, in the context of American cinema he does not represent the innovative force he was in Prague.

Nevertheless, in the late 1990s he has returned to something like his earlier form with the somewhat idealistic People vs. Larry Flynt, the story of a pornographer's efforts to keep his magazine on the newsstands in a fight for freedom of speech. The more melancholy Man on the Moon is a biographical film about the comedian Andy Kaufman, who died of cancer aged thirty-five, after a turbulent career that saw him first lauded and then dumped by TV networks nervous about his erratic style. Both films have re-established Forman as an arch commentator on American popular culture.

Besides filmmaking, Forman has also been involved in the academic world in recent years, accepting a position as professor of film and co-chair of the film division at Columbia University's School of the Arts. He also appeared onscreen in several small roles, such as Catherine O'Hara's husband in Mike Nichols' Heartburn, in which he was reunited with his One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest star, Jack Nicholson, and, oddly enough, as an apartment house janitor in Henry Jaglom's New Years' Day. He has appeared as himself in several documentaries.

—Josef Skvorecký, updated by Rob Edelman and Chris Routledge

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Forman, Milos 1932–

Forman, Milos 1932–

(Jan Tomas)


First name pronounced "Mee-losh"; original name, Jan Tomas Forman; born February 18, 1932, in Caslav, Czechoslovakia; immigrated to the United States, 1968; naturalized citizen, November 30, 1977; son of Rudolf (a professor) and Anna (maiden name, Svabova) Forman (both died in German concentration camps during World War II); raised by family members; married Jana Brejchova (an actress), 1951 (divorced, 1956); married Vera Kresadlova (a singer), 1964 (divorced, 1999); married Martina Zborilova (Forman's film crew assistant), November 28, 1999; children: (second marriage) Matej and Petr (twins); (third marriage) Andrew and James (twins). Education: Studied screenwriting at the Film Institute at the University of Prague, 1950–55; also studied at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Prague, and Laterna Magika, Prague, 1958–62.

Addresses: Agent—Lantz Office, 200 W. 57th St., Suite 503, New York, NY 10019. Manager—Nancy Seltzer & Associates, 6220 Del Valle Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Career: Director, producer, writer, and actor. Directed documentaries for Czech television, 1954–56; worked as an assistant writer and director with Laterna Magika (Magic Lantern, theater group), 1958–62; Columbia University, New York City, co-director film studies, 1975–, film professor, 1978–; Cannes Film Festival, 1972, 1985.

Member: Director's Guild of America (Guild's President Committee, 1986–).

Awards, Honors: Czechoslovak Film Critics Award, and first prize, Locarno Film Festival, 1963, both for Peter and Pavla; Golden Sail Award, best feature film, Locarno International Film Festival, 1964, for Black Peter; Grand Prix Award, 17th International Film Festival, Locarno, 1964; Academy Award nomination, best foreign film, Golden Lion Award nomination, Venice Film Festival, 1965, French Film Academy Award, best film, 1966, Bodil Award, best European film, Bodil Festival, 1967, all for Loves of a Blonde; Jussi Award, best foreign director, 1967, for Black Peter and Loves of a Blonde; Academy Award nomination, best foreign film, 1967, for The Fireman's Ball; Grand Prize of the Jury and Golden Film Award nomination, Cannes International Film Festival, 1971, Writers Guild of America Award screen nomination (with Jean-Claude Carriere, John Guare and John Klein), best comedy written directly for the screen, Film Award nominations, best screenplay (with Jean-Claude Carriere, John Guare and John Klein), best director, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Bodil Award, best American film, Bodil Festival, 1972, all for Taking Off; Academy Award, best director, Directors Guild of America Award (with others), outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, 1975, Golden Globe Award, best director—motion picture, Silver Ribbon Award, best director—foreign film, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Bodil Award, best American film, David di Donatello Award, best director—foreign film, 1976, Film Award, best direction, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Reader's Choice Award, best foreign language film director, Kinema Junpo, Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, best director, Cesar Award nomination, best foreign film, 1977, all for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; David di Donatello Award, best director—foreign film, 1979, Cesar Award nomination, best foreign film, 1980, both for Hair; Golden Globe Award nomination, best director—motion picture, 1982, for Ragtime; Academy Award, best director, Directors Guild of America Award (with Michael Hausman), outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, best director, 1984, Golden Globe Award, best director—motion picture, Cesar Award, best foreign film, Silver Ribbon Award, best director—foreign film, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Robert Award, best foreign film, Jussi Award, best foreign filmmaker, Joseph Plateau Award, best director, David di Donatello Award, best director—foreign film, Amanda Award, best foreign feature film, 1985, Film Award nomination (with Saul Zaentz), best film, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Kinema Junpo Award, best foreign language film, Guild Film Award—Gold, foreign film, 1986, DVD Premiere Award nomination (with Peter Shaffer), best audio commentary, library release, 2003, all for Amadeus; Cesar Award nomination, best director, 1990, for Valmont; Freedom of Expression Award (with Oliver Stone), National Board of Review, 1996, Academy Award nomination, best director, Golden Globe Award, best director—motion picture, Golden Bear award, Berlin Film Festival, European Film Award, outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, 1997, Czech Lion Award nomination, Czech Film and Television Academy, best foreign language film, 1998, all for The People vs. Larry Flynt; John Huston Award, Artists Rights Foundation, 1997; Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, 1997; Artistic Achievement Award, Czech Film and Television Academy, 1998; Lifetime Achievement Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2000; CineMerit Award, Munich Film Festival, 2000; Silver Berlin Bear, best director, and Golden Berlin Bear Award nomination, Berlin International Film Festival, 2000, Czech Lion Award nomination, best foreign language film, 2001, all for Man on the Moon; Film Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2004; Billy Wilder Award, National Board of Review, 2004.


Film Director:

Il laterna magika (also known as Magic Lantern II), 1960.

Kdyby Ty Muziky Nebyly (also known as The Glory of the Brass Bands, If It Weren't for Music, If There Were No Music, and Why Do We Need All the Brass Bands?), 1963.

Audition (also known as Konkurs; composed of two short films, If Only They Ain't Had Them Bands and Talent Competition), 1963.

Black Peter (also known as Cerny Petr and Peter and Pavla), 1963.

Loves of a Blonde (also known as Lasky jedne plavovlasky and A Blonde in Love), Prominent, 1966.

The Firemen's Ball (also known as Hori, ma panenko, Al fuoco pompieri!, Fuoco, ragazza mia, The Fireman's Ball and Lottery, and Like a House on Fire), Cinema V, 1967.

Taking Off, Universal, 1971.

I Miss Sonia Henie (also known as Nedostaje mi Sonja Henie), 1971.

"The Decathlon," Visions of Eight (documentary; also known as Munchen 1972–8 beruhmte Regisseure sehen die Spiele der XX. Olympiade, Olympiade Munchen 1972, and Olympic Visions), Cinema V, 1973.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, United Artists, 1975.

Hair, United Artists, 1979.

Ragtime, Paramount, 1981.

Amadeus (also known as Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus"), Orion, 1984.

Valmont, Orion, 1989.

The People vs. Larry Flynt (also known as Larry Flynt), Columbia, 1996.

The Little Black Book, Universal, 1998.

Man on the Moon (also known as Andy Kaufman and Der Mondmann), Universal, 1999.

Goya's Ghosts, 2006.

Film Work; Other:

First assistant director, Stenata, 1957.

Second assistant director, Dedecek automobil, 1957.

Assistance, Voices from the Attic, Siren Pictures, 1988.

Producer, Dreams of Love, 1990.

Executive producer, Way Past Cool, Redeemable Features/Act III Communications/Price1, 2000.

Executive producer, Nomad, 2004.

Film Appearances:

Stribrny vitr (also known as Strieborny vietor and The Silver Wind), 1954.

Dedecek automobil, 1957.

Himself, Meeting Milos Forman, Macmillan Films, 1971.

Himself, Chytilova Versus Forman (documentary), 1981.

Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter (documentary), First Run Features, 1982.

Himself, Chytilova Versus Forman, 1984.

Himself, 50 Years of Action!, 1986.

Dmitri, Heartburn, Paramount, 1986.

Lazlo-the landlord, New Year's Day, International Rainbow, 1989.

Narrator, Why Havel? (documentary), 1991.

Behind the Scenes: A Portrait of Pierre Guffroy (documentary; also known as L'Envers du decors: Portrait de Pierre Guffroy), Ariane Distribution, 1992.

Himself, Who Is Henry Jaglom? (documentary), First Run Features, 1997.

Himself, Completely Cuckoo (documentary; also known as The Making of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), Warner Home Video, 1997.

Father Havel, Keeping the Faith, Buena Vista, 2000.

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

Himself, Man on the Moon: Behind the Moonlight (documentary short; also known as Spotlight on Location: Man on the Moon), Universal Studios Home Video, 2000.

Himself, The Making of "Amadeus" (documentary), Warner Home Video, 2002.

Himself, A Decade Under the Influence (documentary), IFC Films, 2003.

Himself, Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (documentary), 2003.

Himself, Tell Them Who You Are (documentary), Think-Film, 2004.

Himself, Francois Truffaut, an Autobiography, 2004.

Himself, Cineastes contra magnats (documentary), Canonigo Films, 2005.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Interviewee, Cold War, CNN, 1998.

Television Director; Movies:

Dobre placena prochazka, 1966.

Television Appearances; Specials:

The 48th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1976.

James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy (documentary), 1981.

The 57th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1985.

The Statue of Liberty (documentary), PBS, 1985.

The Way We Wear (documentary), PBS, 1988.

Milos Forman: Portrait (documentary), PBS, 1989.

American Tribute to Vaclav Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, PBS, 1990.

Havel's Audience with History, PBS, 1990.

The Republic Pictures Story (documentary), AMC, 1991.

Drawn from Memory, PBS, 1995.

Cannes … Les 400 Coups, 1997.

The 69th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1997.

Inside the Academy Awards, TNT, 1997.

Charlie Chaplin: A Tramp's Life (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1998.

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (documentary), The Learning Channel, 1998.

Himself, V centru filmu-v teple domova (also known as In the Center of Film—In the Warmth of Home), 1998.

Himself, Eigentlich ist nichts geschehen-Der Film des Prager Fruhlings, 1998.

Himself, Milos Forman: Kino ist Wahrheit, 2000.

The Beatles Revolution (documentary), 2000.

(Uncredited) Himself, Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s, 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.

Voice of himself, A Room Nearby, PBS, 2003.

Francois Truffaut, une autobiographie, 2004.

San Sebastian 2005: Cronica de Carlos Boyero, 2005.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, 1986.

Mundo VIP, 1997.

Himself, Paskvil, 1997.

Himself, "Saul Zaentz: A Tribute," The South Bank Show, ITV, 1998.

Conversations in World Cinema, Sundance, 2000.

Himself, Cinema mil, 2005.

Also appeared as himself, "The Films of Milos Forman," The Directors, Encore.

Stage Director:

The Little Black Book, Helen Hayes Theatre, New York City, 1972.



Nechte to na mne (also known as Leave It to Me), 1955.

Stenata, 1957.

Laterna magika II (also known as Magic Lantern II), 1960.

Kdyby ty muziky nebyly (also known as If It Weren't for Music, If There Were No Music, The Glory of the Brass Bands, and Who Do We Need All the Brass Bands?), 1963.

Audition (also known as Konkurs and Competition), 1963.

Black Peter (also known as Cerny Petr and Peter and Pavla), 1963.

Loves of a Blonde (also known as Lasky jedne plavovlasky and A Blonde in Love), 1965.

Dedecek automobil, 1965.

The Firemen's Ball (also known as Hori, ma panenko, Al fuoco pompieri!, Fuoco, ragazza mia, The Firemen's Ball and Lottery, and Like a House on Fire), 1967.

The Nail Clippers (also known as La pince a ongles), 1969.

Taking Off, Universal, 1971.

Valmont, Orion, 1989.

Goya's Ghosts, 2006.


(With Jan Novak) Turnaround: A Memoir, Villard Books, 1994.



Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 63, Thompson Gale, 2005.

Dizdarevic, Jasmin, Konkurs na rezisera Milose Formana, AG Kult (Prague), 1990.

Foll, January, Milos Forman, Cs. Filmovy ustav (Prague), 1989.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.

Slater, Thomas J., Milos Forman: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1987.

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"Forman, Milos 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . 17 Dec. 2017 <>.

"Forman, Milos 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . (December 17, 2017).

"Forman, Milos 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from

Milos Forman

Milos Forman

A master of ironic comedy and sumptuous period dramas, film director Milos Forman (born 1932) has won two Academy Awards for directing the year's best pictures in 1975 and 1984. His works show a humanist empathy for people as victims of cruel systems over which they have little control.

Milos Forman was born on February 18, 1932 in Caslav, Czechoslovakia. His father, Rudolf, was a Jewish professor of education, while his mother, Ann Svabova, was a Protestant. Forman's parents introduced him to the cinema when he was a young boy, and he fell in love with American classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the westerns of John Ford. Forman was orphaned at the age of nine, when his parents died in Nazi concentration camps. His older brother Pavel, hunted by the Nazi secret police, took a job designing stage sets for a theater troupe that staged operettas. His brother took Forman backstage. "It was a revelation to me and I decided there and then that the theater, this other world, would be my life," he later recalled.

In 1951, Forman enrolled at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Prague. That same year, he married actress Jana Brejchova. The marriage ended in divorce five years later, at the time Forman graduated from the Academy.

For several years, Forman worked in mixed-media "magic lantern" theater productions in Prague. His first film work was as a screenwriter for the film Automobil in 1956. He also worked as an assistant director on several films and was a writer and director for Czech television. In every medium, he had to wrestle with the Communist government's restrictions on art.

Forman's Czech films were fresher and less constrained than most Eastern European films of the era. Heavily influenced by Italian neo-realists, Forman liked stories of ordinary people and often used non-professional actors and improvised dialogue.

Three of Forman's movies were released in the West in the 1960s, displaying to the world his sardonic wit. They owed much stylistically to silent American comedies. Chaplin, Forman has said, was a big influence. His 1963 feature film, Black Peter, is the story of a disillusioned store detective. Next came Loves of a Blonde, an unorthodox romantic comedy, followed by The Firemen's Ball, a deft satire about a ceremony for a retiring fire chief which is interrupted by a beauty contest, a marching band, a raffle, a copulating couple, and an actual fire. Misunderstanding the humor, 40,000 Czech firemen walked off their jobs after the release of The Firemen's Ball, and Forman had to publicly apologize. Besides being a disarming comedy, the film was a satire on Stalinist excesses of the 1950s, with the firemen's bosses serving as a metaphor for the Czech government.

Though his work was at first attacked by Stalinist critics, it was soon embraced by the more liberal faction of the Communist Party that held power at the time in Czechoslovakia. Success at the box office in his own country and recognition at international film festivals made Forman the leader of a Czech cinematic "New Wave" that coincided with the radically humanist films coming out of other European countries.

Political events soon interfered with Forman's career and family. In 1964, he married singer Vera Kresadlova, and they had two children, Petr and Matej. Forman was scouting locations in Paris when Soviet troops rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1967. Forman decided to stay in the West, leaving behind his wife and two young sons. He was concerned about being imprisoned if he returned to his home. Vaclav Havel, later president of the Czech Republic and a close friend, became his hero for staying, resisting the invaders, and going to jail. The Soviet-backed regime which took power immediately banned The Firemen's Ball.

Triumphed in Hollywood

Forman came to Hollywood with a solid reputation but little command of the English language and few marketable ideas. He was unable to interest producers in a fanciful project that would have starred Jimmy Durante as a wealthy bear hunter in Czechoslovakia, or in an adaptation of Franz Kafka's scathing political satire, Amerika. In 1969, Forman made his first American film, Taking Off, which he co-wrote with playwright John Guare and others. Based on a newspaper story, Taking Off was a subversive comic examination of the generation gap through the eyes of a conservative couple whose hippie daughter had run away to Greenwich Village. His only American film based on his own original idea, it was a critical success, but did poorly at the box office. Forman had trouble getting funding for other projects. In 1972, he directed one-eighth of an ensemble film about the Olympics called Visions of Eight, his segment focusing on decathalon athletes.

Forman spent the rest of his career working on literary or theatrical adaptations. In 1975, he came seemingly out of nowhere to direct a major success with a Bo Goldman screenplay adapted from a 1962 Ken Kesey novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The film, which took great liberties with the Kesey story, was a huge commercial hit and swept the top five Academy Awards—best picture, director, screenplay, actor, and actress. That had been done only once before, with Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, in 1935. Oscars went to Jack Nicholson for his role as irrepressible con artist Randall P. McMurphy who works scams at a mental hospital and to Louise Fletcher for her performance as the stern nurse who battles against him. Like much of Forman's work, the movie is a portrait of an individual struggling against the system. Filmed at the Oregon State Hospital, it contained many segments with a quasi-documentary look.

Forman became a U.S. citizen in 1975. He was given a full professorship and made director of the film division at Columbia University in New York City.

In many of his films, Forman displayed an affinity for music. In 1965, he had adapted a jazz opera, The Well-Paid Stroll, for Czech television. In 1979, Forman filmed a long-anticipated film adaptation of the quintessential youth counter-culture musical Hair. However, he missed the opportunity to cast a young singer named Madonna, who was on the cusp of stardom, and the film seemed sadly anachronistic to most critics and many viewers.

Forman's next project was a film of E.L. Doctorow's historical novel, Ragtime, a handsomely mounted, wide-ranging examination of events of early 20th century America. Released in 1981, it garnered mixed reviews. David Thomson, author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, called it "an underrated film, true to Doctorow, complex and challenging, a movie about a time and its ideas."

Ragtime was the first of three period pieces which Forman would direct in the 1980s. He returned to top form in 1984 with Amadeus, a moody, bracing biography of the composer Mozart, adapted by Peter Shaffer from his own stage play. It won eight Oscars, including best director and picture and a best actor award for F. Murray Abraham, who played Mozart's oily nemesis, Salieri. Filmed in Prague, the film is a lavish, lustrous, assured and mature but eccentric work. At 52, with two awards for best director in a ten-year period, Forman seemed to be at the pinnacle of his career. Few at the time would have imagined he would direct only two more feature films in the remainder of the century.

A Slow Pace

Despite his success, Forman seemed content to work sparingly and slowly. As a film student, he had read the sexually charged historical novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos and had always wanted to film it. However, he was beat by director Stephen Fears, who signed big-name stars for his 1988 release Dangerous Liaisons. A year later, Forman's version of the story, entitled Valmont,/] was released, with a much less famous cast. Some felt it was better than the Fears film, which was generally regarded as cold. Most critics and audiences, however, were not impressed. While complaining that it was not very erotic, Playboy's Bruce Williamson called Valmont a "spectacularly filmed, sumptuously costumed, visual feast." Critic Stuart Klawans derided the film as the equivalent of "Wet T-Shirt Night at Lou's Ancien Regime," saying Forman "removed the danger from the liaisons, leaving the viewer with a long, lavish snooze of a picture."

In his post-Amadeus days, Forman seemed more interested in his academic duties at Columbia than in making movies. He appeared as an actor in several films, including a small role in Heartburn in 1986, a cameo as a janitor in New Year's Day in 1989, and a part in Disclosure, a film he was originally enlisted to direct. He also penned a memoir, Turnaround, released in 1994.

Forman mounted a comeback of sorts with the controversial 1996 film, The People vs. Larry Flynt. The film makes an unorthodox hero out of a pornographic magazine publisher who wages a long battle over his free-speech rights. Forman's sympathy toward his crude, annoying protagonist (played by Woody Harrelson) is obvious and probably can be traced to his early struggles against Communist censors. Newsweek 's Jonathan Alter said The People vs. Larry Flynt was "proof that raunchy entertainment can be highly educational" and called it "a socially important film" that illustrates the complexities of free speech rights. Film critic Stanley Kauffmann complained that Forman softened the rough edges of the story even while bringing out the best in his unusual cast.

Shot in Memphis, Tennessee, the film uses many Memphis citizens, both professionals and non-actors, including a local judge, D'Army Bailey, who plays a judge. Flynt himself plays another judge. Equally idiosyncratic was Forman's decision to use rock star Courtney Love to play Flint's wife, Althea Leasure. The studio wanted a rising young star such as Mira Sorvino to play Mrs. Flynt, but Forman wanted a fresher face. He tested Love and two others and sent the tests to Vaclav Havel and a few other close friends. Havel said he liked Love the best, and Forman agreed. Her performance was well-received.

Forman generally has been considered an actors' director. His films, while richly realized and warmly humane, are not generally regarded as highly innovative. Some critics say he does not have a coherent style. Kauffmann contends that "one can't speak of a Forman film, only a film by Forman." But no one could dispute that Forman's successes were prodigious ones, and all his films are richly staged.

Further Reading

Barson, Michael, The Illustrated Who's Who of Hollywood Directors, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995.

Brewer's Cinema, Market House Books, 1995.

Contemporary Authors, edited by Hal May, Gale Research, 1983.

Katz, Ephraim, The Film Encyclopedia, Harper, 1994.

The St. James Film Directors Enclyclopedia, edited by Andrew Sarris, Visible Ink Press, 1998.

Thomson, David, A Biographical Dictionary of Film, third edition, Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

Entertainment Weekly, March 4, 1994.

Memphis Business Journal, January 13, 1997.

Nation, December 11, 1989.

New Republic, January 20, 1997.

Newsweek, December 23, 1996.

People, December 16, 1996.

Playboy, February 1990.

UNESCO Courier, July-August, 1995.

Vanity Fair, February 1994. □

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Forman, Milos

Forman, Milos (1932– ) Czech film director. Forman made several films in Czechoslovakia, including Fireman's Ball (1967), before moving to the USA in 1968. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) is one of only three films (It Happened One Night and Silence of the Lambs) to gain Academy Awards for best film, best director, best actor, and best actress. He also won a further Oscar as best director for Amadeus (1984).

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