Nationality: American. Born: Anton or Emil Bundsmann in Point Loma or San Diego, California, 1907. Education: Educated in New York City public schools. Family: Married 1) Mildred Kenyon, 1931 (divorced 1956), one son, one daughter; 2) Sarita Montiel, 1957 (marriage annulled 1963); 3) Anna (Mann), one son. Career: Began work in theatre following father's death, 1923; production manager for Theater Guild, New York, from late 1920s, then director, 1933;
director for Federal Theater Project, New York, 1936–38; talent scout for David Selznick, and casting director, Hollywood, 1938; assistant director at Paramount, 1939; signed to Republic Pictures, 1943, to RKO, 1945, then to MGM, 1949; withdrew from Spartacus after quarrelling with Kirk Douglas, 1960. Died: During shooting of last film, in Germany, 29 April 1967.
Films as Director:
Dr. Broadway; Moonlight in Havana
My Best Gal; Strangers in the Night
The Great Flamarion; Two o'Clock Courage; Sing Your WayHome
Strange Impersonation; The Bamboo Blonde
T-Men (+ co-sc, uncredited); Raw Deal; He Walked by Night (co-d, uncredited)
Reign of Terror (The Black Book); Border Incident
Side Street; Devil's Doorway; The Furies; Winchester '73
The Tall Target
Bend of the River
The Naked Spur; Thunder Bay
The Glenn Miller Story
The Far Country; Strategic Air Command; The Man fromLaramie; The Last Frontier
Men in War; The Tin Star
God's Little Acre; Man of the West
Cimarron; El Cid
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Heroes of Telemark
A Dandy in Aspic (co-d)
By MANN: articles—
Interview, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1957.
"Now You See It: Landscape and Anthony Mann," interview with J.H. Fenwick and Jonathan Green-Armytage, in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1965.
"A Lesson in Cinema," interview with Jean-Claude Missiaen, in Cahiers du Cinéma in English (New York), December 1967.
Interview with Christopher Wicking and Barrie Pattison, in Screen (London), July/October 1969.
"Empire Demolition," in Hollywood Directors 1941–1976, edited by Richard Koszarski, New York, 1977.
On MANN: books—
Missiaen, Jean-Claude, Anthony Mann, Paris, 1964.
Kitses, Jim, Horizons West, Bloomington, Indiana, 1970.
Wright, Will, Sixguns and Society, Berkeley, California, 1975.
Basinger, Jeanine, Anthony Mann, Boston, 1979.
On MANN: articles—
Reid, J.H., "Mann and His Environment," in Films and Filming (London), January 1962.
Reid, J.H., "Tension at Twilight," in Films and Filming (London), February 1962.
Wagner, Jean, "Anthony Mann," in Anthologie du Cinéma (Paris), vol. 4, 1968.
Handzo, Stephen, "Through the Devil's Doorway: The Early Westerns of Anthony Mann," in Bright Lights (Los Angeles), Summer 1976.
Smith, Robert, "Mann in the Dark," in Bright Lights (Los Angeles), Fall 1976.
"Special Mann Double Issue" of Movietone News (Seattle), Fall 1978.
Miller, Don, "Eagle-Lion: The Violent Years," in Focus on Film (London), November 1978.
Willeman, Paul, "Anthony Mann—Looking at the Male," in Framework (Norwich, England), Summer 1981.
Pulleine, Tim, "History, Drama, Abstraction: Mann's Route to Madrid," and "Mann's Route to Madrid, Part II," in MonthlyFilm Bulletin (London), March and April 1982.
"Anthony Mann," in Film Dope (London), December 1987.
Boujut, M., "A l'Ouest, l'éden," in Télérama (Paris), no. 2268, 30 June 1993.
Saada, N., "Les westerns fiévreux d'Anthony Mann," in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), no. 470, July-August 1993.
Bénoliel, Bernard, "Anthony Mann: en quête d'innocence," in Mensuel du Cinéma, no. 9, September 1993.
Everschor, Franz, "'On Some Men It Shows,"' in Film-Dienst (Cologne), vol. 49, no. 3, June 1996.
Kemp, Philip, "'The Story of All Wars': Anthony Mann's Men inWar," in Film Comment (New York), vol. 32, no. 4, July-August 1996.
* * *
Though he incidentally directed films in various genres (the musical, the war movie, the spy drama), Anthony Mann's career falls into three clearly marked phases: the early period of low-budget, B-feature films noir; the central, most celebrated period of westerns, mostly with James Stewart; and his involvement in the epic (with Samuel Bronston as producer). All three periods produced distinguished work (in particular, El Cid has strong claims to be considered the finest of all the wide–screen historical epics of the 1950s and 1960s, and the first half of The Fall of the Roman Empire matches it), but it is the body of work from the middle period in which Mann's achievement is most consistent and on which his reputation largely depends.
The first of the Stewart westerns, Winchester '73, contains most of the major components Mann was to develop in the series that followed. There is the characteristic use of landscape—never for the superficial beauty or mere pictorial effect that is a cliché of the genre, nor to ennoble the human figures through monumental grandeur and harmonious man-in-nature compositions, as in the classical westerns of Ford. In Mann, the function of landscape is primarily dramatic, and nature is felt as inhospitable, indifferent, or hostile. If there is a mountain, it will have to be climbed, arduously and painfully; barren rocks provide a favourite location for a shoot-out, offering partial cover but also the continued danger of the ricochet. The preferred narrative structure of the films is the journey, and its stages are often marked by a symbolic progression in landscape, from fertile valley to bare rock or snow-covered peak, corresponding to a stripping-away of the trappings of civilization and civilized behavior. Bend of the River represents the most systematic treatment of this prior to Man of the West. Winchester '73 also establishes the Mann hero ("protagonist" might be a better word): neurotic, obsessive, driven, usually motivated by a desire for revenge that reduces him emotionally and morally to a brutalized condition scarcely superior to that of the villain. Hero and villain, indeed, become mirror reflections of one another: in Winchester '73 they are actually brothers (one has murdered the father, the other seeks revenge); in Bend of the River, both are ex-gunfighters, Stewart bearing the mark around his neck of the hangman's noose from which, at the beginning of the film, he saves Arthur Kennedy. Violence in Mann's westerns is never glorified: it is invariably represented as ugly, disturbing, and painful (emotionally as much as physicall), and this is true as much when it is inflicted by the heroes as by the villains.
Mann's supreme achievement is certainly Man of the West, the culmination of the Stewart series despite the fact that the Stewart role is taken over by Gary Cooper. It remains one of the great American films and one of the great films about America. It carries to their fullest development all the components described above, offering a magnificently complete realization of their significance. Cooper plays Link Jones (the "link" between the old West and the new), a reformed outlaw stranded in the wilderness while on a mission to hire a teacher for the first school in the new township of Good Hope. Link is sucked back into involvement with his old gang of "brother," "cousins," and monstrous adoptive father Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb), and forced into more and more excessive violence, as he destroys his doubles in order finally to detach himself, drained and compromised, from his own roots.