Biography

William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Some of his other films include Sorcerer, Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., Jade, Rules of Engagement, The Hunted, Bug, and Killer Joe.

As mentioned in Friedkin's voice-over commentary on the DVD re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Friedkin directed one of the last episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965, called "Off Season". Hitchcock admonished Friedkin for not wearing a tie while directing.

In 1965 Friedkin moved to Hollywood and two years later released his first feature film, Good Times starring Sonny and Cher. Several other "art" films followed, including the adaptation of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band and most notably The Birthday Party, based on an unpublished screenplay by Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play. Friedkin, however, did not want to be known as an art house director, but rather for action and serious drama through stories about an America upended by crime, hypocrisy, the occult, and amorality. All of which he mounted up into his films to reflect what was going on in an America that was changing in the wake of Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution, and Watergate.

In 1971, his The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Friedkin followed up with 1973's The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel, which revolutionized the horror genre and is considered by some critics to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Best Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing.

Following these two pictures, Friedkin, along with Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich, was deemed one of the premier directors of New Hollywood; In 1973 the trio announced the formation of an independent production company at Paramount, The Directors Company. Whereas Coppola directed The Conversation and Bogdanovich, the Henry James adaptation, Daisy Miller, Friedkin abruptly left the company, which was soon closed by Paramount.

Friedkin's later movies did not achieve the same success.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Friedkin's films received mostly lackluster reviews and moderate ticket sales. However, his action/crime movie To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), starring William Petersen and Willem Dafoe, was a critical favorite and drew comparisons to Friedkin's own The French Connection (particularly for its car-chase sequence). In 2011 Friedkin directed Killer Joe, a black comedy written by Tracy Letts, and starring Matthew McConaughey. Killer Joe premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, prior to its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

In April 2013 Friedkin published a memoir, The Friedkin Connection. He was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in September.

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William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Some of his other films include Sorcerer, Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., Jade, Rules of Engagement, The Hunted, Bug, and Killer Joe.

As mentioned in Friedkin's voice-over commentary on the DVD re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Friedkin directed one of the last episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965, called "Off Season". Hitchcock admonished Friedkin for not wearing a tie while directing.

In 1965 Friedkin moved to Hollywood and two years later released his first feature film, Good Times starring Sonny and Cher. Several other "art" films followed, including the adaptation of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band and most notably The Birthday Party, based on an unpublished screenplay by Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play. Friedkin, however, did not want to be known as an art house director, but rather for action and serious drama through stories about an America upended by crime, hypocrisy, the occult, and amorality. All of which he mounted up into his films to reflect what was going on in an America that was changing in the wake of Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution, and Watergate.

In 1971, his The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Friedkin followed up with 1973's The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel, which revolutionized the horror genre and is considered by some critics to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Best Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing.

Following these two pictures, Friedkin, along with Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich, was deemed one of the premier directors of New Hollywood; In 1973 the trio announced the formation of an independent production company at Paramount, The Directors Company. Whereas Coppola directed The Conversation and Bogdanovich, the Henry James adaptation, Daisy Miller, Friedkin abruptly left the company, which was soon closed by Paramount.

Friedkin's later movies did not achieve the same success.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Friedkin's films received mostly lackluster reviews and moderate ticket sales. However, his action/crime movie To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), starring William Petersen and Willem Dafoe, was a critical favorite and drew comparisons to Friedkin's own The French Connection (particularly for its car-chase sequence). In 2011 Friedkin directed Killer Joe, a black comedy written by Tracy Letts, and starring Matthew McConaughey. Killer Joe premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, prior to its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

In April 2013 Friedkin published a memoir, The Friedkin Connection. He was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in September.

Personal Info

Known For Directing

Gender Male

Known Credits 55

Birthday 1935-08-29

Place of Birth Chicago, Illinois, USA

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • -

Directing TV ShowsMovies

2018 Frankie MachineDirector
2017 The Devil and Father AmorthDirector
2011 Killer JoeDirector
2006 BugDirector
2003 The HuntedDirector
2000 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation(2 episodes)Director
2000 Rules of EngagementDirector
1997 12 Angry MenDirector
1995 JadeDirector
1994 JailbreakersDirector
1994 Blue ChipsDirector
1990 The GuardianDirector
1989 Tales from the Crypt(1 episode)Director
1988 C.A.T. Squad: Python WolfDirector
1987 RampageDirector
1986 C.A.T. SquadDirector
1986 Putting It Together: The Making of the Broadway AlbumDirector
1985 To Live and Die in L.A.Director
1985 The Twilight Zone(1 episode)Director
1983 Deal of the CenturyDirector
1980 CruisingDirector
1978 The Brink's JobDirector
1977 SorcererDirector
1974 Fritz Lang Interviewed By William FriedkinDirector
1973 The ExorcistDirector
1971 The French ConnectionDirector
1970 The Boys in the BandDirector
1968 The Night They Raided Minsky'sDirector
1968 The Birthday PartyDirector
1967 Good TimesDirector
1965 The People vs. Paul CrumpDirector

Acting

Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master as Himself
2017 The Devil and Father Amorth as himself
2014 Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles as Himself
2013 A Fuller Life as Himself - Reader (segment "My Ballsy Yarns")
2013 Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot as Himself
2012 Stanley Kubrick in Focus
2012 Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of as Interviewee
2011 Making the Boys as Himself
2011 Miller's Tale as Himself
2009 North by Northwest: One for the Ages as Himself
2009 The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style as Himself
2008 In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy as Himself
2007 The Visions of Stanley Kubrick as Himself
2007 View From the Overlook: Crafting 'The Shining' as Himself
2007 Exorcising Cruising
2007 The History of Cruising
2006 Shadows of Suspense as Himself
2005 Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy
2004 A Little Solitaire as Himself
2003 A Decade Under the Influence as Himself
2002 Durch die Nacht mit …(1 episode)
1998 Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy as Himself
1998 The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist as Himself
1991 Fear in the Dark as Himself
1974 Fritz Lang Interviewed By William Friedkin

Writing

1990 The GuardianScreenplay
1988 C.A.T. Squad: Python WolfWriter
1987 RampageWriter
1985 To Live and Die in L.A.Screenplay
1980 CruisingWriter

Production

1986 C.A.T. SquadExecutive Producer
1977 SorcererProducer
1973 Paper MoonExecutive Producer

Crew

1998 The Fear of God: 25 Years of The ExorcistThanks

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