McBride, Joseph 1947- (Joseph Pierce McBride)

views updated

McBride, Joseph 1947- (Joseph Pierce McBride)

PERSONAL:

Born August 9, 1947, in Milwaukee, WI; son of Raymond Edward (a newspaper reporter) and Marian Bernice Dunne McBride (a newspaper reporter and politician); married Linda Mary Detra, November 15, 1969 (divorced, 1973); married Ruth Mary O'Hara, July 17, 1985; children: (first marriage) Jessica, (second marriage) John. Education: Attended University of Wisconsin, 1965-69. Hobbies and other interests: Politics, baseball.

ADDRESSES:

Office—San Francisco State University, Cinema Department, Burk Hall 265, 1600 Holloway Ave., CA 94132. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, screenwriter, actor, journalist, and teacher. Daily Cardinal, Madison, WI, staff writer, 1965-69; Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI, reporter, 1969-73; Riverside Press and Daily Enterprise, Riverside, CA, reporter, 1973-74; reporter and critic, Daily Variety, Hollywood, CA, and Variety, New York, NY, 1974-77, 1980-81, 1989-92; freelance screenwriter, 1977-84; American Film Institute, Los Angeles, CA, TV writer, 1980-84; United States Information Agency (USIA), Washington, DC, TV writer, 1982; San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, assistant professor of cinema, 2002—. Actor in films, including The Other Side of the Wind, The Wild Party, Cannonball, Blood and Guts, Hollywood Boulevard, and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Also coproducer of documentaries Obsessed with "Vertigo": New Life for Hitchcock's Masterpiece, 1997, and John Ford Goes to War, 2002. Consultant on Becoming John Ford, 2007. Appeared in documentaries, including Filming "The Trial," 1981, 1999, Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right, 1996, Frank Capra's American Dream, 1997, Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies, 2001, John Ford Goes to War, John Ford/John Wayne/The Filmaker and the Legend, 2006, Becoming John Ford; Volunteer for John F. Kennedy presidential campaign, 1960.

MEMBER:

Writers Guild of America; Wisconsin Film Society (president, 1967-69); Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles Film Critics Association (founding member; vice president, 1995-97).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Best nonfiction book award from Wisconsin Council for Creative Writers, 1972, for Orson Welles; best screenplay nomination from Canadian Film Awards, 1978, for Blood and Guts; Emmy award nominations from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1981 and 1984; Writers Guild of America award, 1983, for The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston; Top 100 Irish Americans, Irish America magazine, 1993; Brandeis University National Women's Committee award, 1997.

WRITINGS:

Orson Welles, Viking (New York, NY), 1972, revised and expanded edition, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Michael Wilmington) John Ford, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1974, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1975.

Kirk Douglas, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1976.

Orson Welles: Actor and Director, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1977.

High and Inside: The Complete Guide to Baseball Slang, Warner (New York, NY), 1980, revised edition published as High and Inside: An A-to-Z Guide to the Language of Baseball, Contemporary Books (Lincolnwood, IL), 1995.

Hawks on Hawks, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1982.

Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992, revised edition, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

The Book of Movie Lists: An Offbeat, Provocative Collection of the Best and Worst of Everything in Movies, Contemporary Books (Lincolnwood, IL), 1999.

Searching for John Ford, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2006.

EDITOR

Persistence of Vision: A Collection of Film Criticism, Wisconsin Film Society Press (Madison, WI), 1968.

Focus on Howard Hawks, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1972.

Filmmakers on Filmmaking: The American Film Institute Seminars on Motion Pictures and Television, two volumes, J.P. Tarcher (Los Angeles, CA), 1983.

Author of film scripts, including Blood and Guts, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Hard Time Aces, and Big Money. Contributor to books, including Favorite Movies: Critics' Choice, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1973; International Film Guide Annual, Tantivy Press (London, England), 1975; The Work of Dorothy Arzner: Towards a Feminist Cinema, British Film Institute (London, England), 1975; Focus on Orson Welles, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1976; Women and the Cinema, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997; Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978; Great Film Directors: A Critical Anthology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978; Backstory 1: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1986; Bringing up Baby, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1988; Mr. Bernds Goes to Hollywood: My Early Life and Career in Sound Recording at Columbia with Frank Capra and Others, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 1999; The Best American Film Writing 1999, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 1999; Film Quarterly: Forty Years—A Selection, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1999; Joe Dante et les Gremlins de Hollywood, Cahiers du Cinéma and Festival International du Film de Locarno (France and Switzerland), 1999; Film Crazy: Interviews with Hollywood Legends, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000; Greatest Irish Americans of the 20th Century, Oak Tree Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2001; John Huston: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2001; George Cukor: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2001; Billy Wilder: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2002; A Palace of Silver: A Memoir of Maggie Roberts, Capra Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 2003; George Stevens: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2004, and Howard Hawks: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2006. Writer or contributing writer to American Film Institute television specials, including The American Film Institute Salute to James Stewart, 1980, The American Film Institute Salute to Fred Astaire, 1981, The American Film Institute Salute to Frank Capra, 1982, The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston, 1983, The American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish, 1984, and AFI's 100 Years … 100 Movies: War and Peace, 1998. Also cowriter of television special Let Poland Be Poland, 1982. Contributor of audio commentaries to DVD editions of films, including How Green Was My Valley, 2002, An Affair to Remember, 2002, The Grapes of Wrath, 2004, Cheyenne Autumn, 2006, The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films 1917-1923, 2006, Jane Eyre, 2007, and Pilgrimage, 2007. Contributor to periodicals, including Life, RollingStone, Film Comment, New York Times Book Review, New York Review of Books, Nation, Oxford American, Irish America, Shavian, Box Office, Cineaste, Written By, Sight and Sound, American Film, Film Quarterly, Film Heritage, AFI Report, New Times, Montage, Milwaukee Journal, and Capital Times.

SIDELIGHTS:

Joseph McBride has written biographies of many renowned film directors, including John Ford, Frank Capra, and Steven Spielberg. His 1974 biography John Ford, written with Michael Wilmington, was hailed as "one of the first significant books on Ford" by Booklist writer Gordon Flagg. By the time he published Searching for John Ford: A Life in 2001, McBride had put some thirty years into researching his subject. Ford directed the classic Grapes of Wrath and many epic westerns, such as Stagecoach and Fort Apache. McBride conducted some 120 interviews with family members, friends, and professional colleagues of Ford. Henry Fonda, Orson Welles, and John Wayne all offered their insights into the director. The author also interviewed Ford himself. The result of McBride's work is "a fine, long-needed biography of a pivotal American artist," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

McBride wrote on another major director of Hollywood's golden age in Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. Capra's films, which include It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, frequently combine an apparently sentimental optimism with darker undertones. Capra himself was full of contradictions and proliferated many legends about himself. Frank Capra is an "astounding" biography, according to Entertainment Weekly contributor Tim Appelo, one that catches the great film director "in a fascinating array of lies." McBride convincingly analyzes "Capra's reactionary idealization of small-town America and the misogynist undertones" of his work, reported a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and "convincingly paints a great director."

Capra and Ford were part of the Hollywood studio system, which was eventually undermined by anti-trust suits and the rise of television. By the 1970s, movie-making had changed dramatically, and one of its key new players was Steven Spielberg, a young, self-taught director whose early successes included Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Spielberg went on to direct blockbusters such as the "Indiana Jones" film trilogy, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park, as well as to be a part of the influential DreamWorks film company. McBride creates a portrait of an "ambitious, inventive and driven" man in his book Steven Spielberg: A Biography, wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, one which serves as "a splendid introduction" to the director's life and work. Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg noted that Spielberg's life story "makes for a rather dull biography" due to his single-minded focus on his film career, yet Flagg acknowledged that the director's phenomenal success justifies the sort of "substantive biography that McBride delivers."

McBride returns to writing about one of his favorite directors in What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career, which was published in 2006. Called a "heartfelt defense of the director" by Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg, the book is a counterargument to those who believe that Welles, who gained notoriety and respect as a young "genius" in Hollywood with films such as Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, basically squandered the last four decades of his career. In fact, Welles's career, in the opinion of some, reflected the rise and fall of Welles's fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. However, despite many depictions of Welles as a failed genius, McBride makes the case that he was essentially forced out of mainstream Hollywood film projects but continued to work on numerous self-financed projects that, in the author's opinion, show that Welles's genius was still at work. Nevertheless, the author does not ignore Welles's many foibles, including his harsh treatment of people close to him. Sonny Bunch, writing in the Weekly Standard, noted that the author "does a good job dispelling the myth that Orson Welles spent his last years indulging his own gluttonous impulses and doing little else with his time."

McBride told CA: "I began writing books in 1963 because I wanted to look behind the curtain of American life to try to find the real story. My career as a reporter and author has always been one of digging up the untold stories, the missing facts, and the truths behind the conventional wisdom, while studying the myths and the lies that so dominate our lives. I've focused largely on filmmakers whose work deals with important sociopolitical issues, because I am interested in the nexus between art and politics, drama and history, people and ideas. I've learned over the years how to see artists and their work in the full context of their times and in their relationship to the sweep of historical events.

"My biography of Frank Capra is the central work in my life, my turning point between my career as a Hollywood screenwriter and my subsequent career as a biographer. Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success is my examination of the fabrications and contradictions underlying the life and work of a beloved American cultural figure who was not what he seemed. I have continued my search for the stories behind the story in studying the lives of such other great American filmmakers as John Ford, Steven Spielberg, and Orson Welles. My task as a biographer is first to find the truths about their lives and work and then to place those truths in a context that reveals their true importance in our lives as social critics or mythmakers or both.

"Early in my life, I was most interested in politics and considered pursuing a career in political life. Later in my life, I find myself working back to that place from which I came and rediscovering the impulses that originally drove me to look behind the curtain. More and more, I have been writing about our political system and the calamities that have befallen us in the decades since I became a professional writer. In the years ahead, I expect to do more to examine the process that has led us from the hope of the early 1960s to the tumult of the intervening years, so that we can better understand and see through the myths that have brought us to this juncture in our history."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, March 13, 1993, Paul D. McNelis, review of Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, p. 19.

American Film, May, 1983, Dave Kehr, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 72.

Booklist, April 1, 1992, Gordon Flagg, review of Frank Capra, p. 1423; April 15, 1997, Gordon Flagg, review of Steven Spielberg: A Biography, p. 1374; June 1, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 1643; April 1, 2001, Gordon Flagg, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 1441; October 15, 2006, Gordon Flagg, review of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career, p. 15.

Bookwatch, July, 1996, review of Orson Welles, revised and expanded edition, p. 1.

Book World, April 12, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 3; March 7, 1993, review of Frank Capra, p. 12; June 29, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 71; September 5, 1999, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 6.

California Bookwatch, December, 2006, review of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 1995, review of High and Inside: An A-to-Z Guide to the Language of Baseball, p. 1553; May, 1998, M.W. Estrin, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 1539; June, 2007, J.C. Tibbetts, review of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?, p. 1762.

Cineaste, fall, 1992, Leonard Quart, review of Frank Capra, p. 96.

Commentary, August, 1997, Daniel J. Silver, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 68.

Economist, July 17, 1982, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 93.

Entertainment Weekly, May 22, 1992, Tim Appelo, review of Frank Capra, p. 64; May 9, 1997, Dana Kennedy, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 70.

Film Comment, March, 1982, Kathleen Murphy, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 74; November-December, 1992, Richard Corliss, review of Frank Capra, p. 17.

Film Quarterly, fall, 1984, Ernest Callenbach, review of Filmmakers on Filmmaking: The American Film Institute Seminars on Motion Pictures and Television, p. 55; winter, 1992, Charles Maland, review of Frank Capra, p. 52.

Films in Review, September-October, 1992, John Nangle, review of Frank Capra, p. 347.

Journal of American Culture, summer, 1999, Gary L. Harmon, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 95.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 235; February 15, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 278.

Library Journal, December 15, 1981, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 2405; May 1, 1992, Roy Liebman, review of Frank Capra, p. 84; June 15, 1996, review of Orson Welles, revised and expanded edition, p. 97; April 15, 1997, Thomas J. Wiener, review of Steven Spielberg, April 15, 1998, Nancy R. Ives, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 134; March 1, 2001, Stephen F. Rees, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 94.

Literature-Film Quarterly, July, 1997, Jim Welsh, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 241.

Los Angeles Magazine, April, 2001, James Greenberg, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 104.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 17, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 2; July 13, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 8.

Nation, January 4, 1993, Gilberto Perez, review of Frank Capra, p. 24.

New Leader, June 1, 1992, Walter Goodman, review of Frank Capra, p. 24; June 8, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 44.

New Republic, June 8, 1992, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Frank Capra, p. 44.

New York Review of Books, June 10, 1982, Michael Wood, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 34; January 28, 1993, Luc Sante, review of Frank Capra, p. 17.

New York Times Book Review, October 9, 1983, Barbara Shulgasser, review of Filmmakers on Filmmaking, p. 16; May 3, 1992, Barry Gewen, review of Frank Capra, p. 3; May 31, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 28; August 9, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 3; March 14, 1993, review of Frank Capra, p. 28; June 6, 1993, review of Frank Capra, p. 56; June 15, 1997, Shawn Levy, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 24; July 15, 2001, Diane Jacobs, review of Searching for John Ford.

Observer (London, England), November 29, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 3; April 14, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 18.

People, May 26, 1997, Kyle Smith, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 40.

Premiere, July, 1992, John Clark, review of Frank Capra, p. 26; June, 2001, Glenn Kenny, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 94.

Publishers Weekly, November 6, 1981, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Hawks on Hawks, p. 74; March 2, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 59; February 22, 1993, review of Frank Capra, p. 90; April 28, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 65; August 25, 1997, review of High and Inside, p. 62; January 22, 2001, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 309.

Rapport, January 1, 1992, review of Frank Capra, p. 28; February, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 8.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 1997, Brian St. Pierre, review of Steven Spielberg, p. E3.

Sight and Sound, February, 1993, Brian Neve, review of Frank Capra, p. 35; August, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 30; September, 2006, Nick James, review of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?, p. 94.

Threepenny Review, summer, 1993, review of Frank Capra, p. 28.

Times Educational Supplement, January 1, 1993, Robin Buss, review of Frank Capra, p. 18; November 22, 1996, review of Frank Capra, p. 8; July 4, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 17.

Times Higher Education Supplement, August 8, 1997, Mamoun Hassan, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 20.

Times Literary Supplement, July 18, 1997, Adam Bresnick, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 18; July 9, 1993, David Robinson, review of Frank Capra, p. 18.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 6, 1997, review of Steven Spielberg, p. 4.

Variety, March 7, 1984, Todd McCarthy, review of Filmmakers on Filmmaking, p. 201; June 1, 1992, Philip Kemp, review of Frank Capra, p. 84.

Washington Post Book World, August 5, 2001, Robert Sklar, review of Searching for John Ford, p. 13.

Weekly Standard, January 22, 2007, Sonny Bunch, "Make No Whine; the Older Orson Welles Was Productive, Not Tragic," review of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?

Wisconsin State Journal, February 15, 1998, Nadine Goff, review of High and Inside, p. 3F.

ONLINE

Beatrice,http://www.beatrice.com/ (September 26, 2001), Ron Hogan, interview with Joseph McBride.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 16, 2007), information on author's film work.

Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (September 26, 2001), Allen Barra, review of Searching for John Ford.