Otto Preminger

Otto Preminger

The Man Who Would Be King

Screen Classics

by Foster Hirsch

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

500 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 128 b&w photos

Nothing about Otto Preminger was small or trivialfrom his privileged upbringing in Vienna as the son of an improbably successful Jewish lawyer to his work in film and theater in Europe and, later, in America. His range as a director was remarkable: romantic comedies ( The Moon Is Blue); musicals ( Carmen Jones; Porgy and Bess); courtroom dramas ( The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell; Anatomy of a Murder); adaptations of classic plays (Shaw's Saint Joan); political melodrama ( Advise and Consent); war films ( In Harm's Way); and film noir ( Laura; Angel Face; Bunny Lake Is Missing). He directed sweeping sagas (from The Cardinal and Exodus to Hurry Sundown) and small-scale pictures, adapting Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse with Arthur Laurents and Nelson Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm.

In Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King, Foster Hirsch reveals the genius and torture behind the renowned director and producer. Known as "Otto the Terrible", Preminger balanced style and steadfast belief in his actors' underacting was at odds against his own hot-tempered personality. Yet it was this fire and determination to get his way that allowed this native European to become one of America's most progressive directors. He defied and undermined the Production Code of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Catholic Legion of Decency in some of his most important films ( The Moon is Blue, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Anatomy of a Murder) when they demanded changes to his artistic vision. He broke many social barriers by becoming the industry's leading employer of both African American and blacklisted performers -- his all-black Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess remain landmarks in the history of racial representation on the American screen -- and later by shooting American film's first ever scene set in a gay bar.

In this full-scale biography of the controversial, underrated, yet greatly admired movie titan, Foster Hirsch shows us the man -- enraging and endearing -- and his brilliant work.