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Martin Ritt: Interviews

Edited by Gabriel Miller

256 pp., 12 b&w film stills

978-1-57806-434-2 Paper $30.00S

Paper, $30.00

"There's no comparison between the visual scope of movies and the stage--what you can actually show with a camera and what you can only suggest in front of the footlights."

This collection of interviews provides a revealing self-portrait of Martin Ritt (1914-1990), America's preeminent maker of social films and one of the most sensitive portraitists of the rural South.

Ritt's Hollywood career began in 1958 with Edge of the City and ended in 1990 with the release of Stanley and Iris. In all, he directed twenty-six movies, including some of Hollywood's most enduring films--Hud, Hombre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Brotherhood, The Molly Maguires, The Front, and Norma Rae.

Although he gave mostly boilerplate interviews to the press when promoting a movie, Ritt provided more revealing interviews for seminars, oral histories, and documentary filmmakers. The most significant of these, published here for the first time, create a close-up portrait of this distinguished director of plays and films.

Ritt speaks eloquently about his years with the Group Theatre and recreates the passion of the director Harold Clurman. He tells how the Group shaped his ideas about art and the communal nature of the theatrical enterprise, which he extended into his work in film. He speaks of his relationship with Clifford Odets and Elia Kazan, and he talks in detail about his experiences with the blacklist, directing and acting in TV during its Golden Age, his career as a theater director, and his experiences working with such actors as Paul Newman, Sally Field, Sophia Loren, Orson Welles, and Robert De Niro. Ritt discusses his philosophy of directing, the place of film in the history of art, his quarrels with "auteur theory," and the influence of his politics on his work.

Gabriel Miller, a professor of English at Rutgers University, is the author of The Films of Martin Ritt: Fanfare for the Common Man (University Press of Mississippi). Articles by him have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, American Book Review, and Literature/Film Quarterly, among other publications.

256 pp., 12 b&w film stills