Paperback / softback
October 26, 2021
128 b&w photos
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$34.95 USD
v2.1 Reference

Otto Preminger, updated edition

The Man Who Would Be King

Nothing about Otto Preminger was small or trivial — from 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.

About the Author

Foster Hirsch is a professor of film at Brooklyn College and the author of sixteen books on film and theater, including The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir, A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio, and Kurt Weill on Stage: From Berlin to Broadway. He lives in New York City.


"Preminger (1905—1983) could not have asked for a more assiduous or generous biographer than Hirsch (Film/Brooklyn College; Kurt Weill on Stage: From Berlin to Broadway, 2002, etc.), who has visited the archives, studied the films, interviewed the principals, walked the ground and read all relevant documents. The result will endure as the definitive life of one of film's most intriguing and volcanic personalities . . . Executed with the conviction and meticulousness of a Preminger production."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Meticulously researched with nearly 100 new interviews with family members and coworkers, this epic biography offers a multifaceted portrait of the Viennese-born filmmaker and reappraisal of his filmsFilm buffs will enjoy the candid looks behind his volatile productions (including Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Hurry Sundown). Historians will appreciate Preminger's belated recognition for breaking the blacklist . . . . This is a long-overdue critical biography of the temperamental titan with a genius for self-promotion."—Publishers Weekly

"In Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King, Brooklyn College film historian Foster Hirsch weaves interviews with industry players and family members into a straightforward chronology of Preminger's wide-ranging career. This comprehensive

biography of the redoubtable impresario is the first since Preminger's ghostwritten account in 1977 Hirsch does not position Preminger as 'an artistic renegade determined to dismantle the system's visual codes,' but he takes the director's films seriously, offering cogent analyses not only of the classics but also of the underrated (1979's 'The Human Factor') and the unratable (1975's 'Rosebud') What ultimately emerges from the many voices and extensive quotes in this book is not so much a portrait of the man as of his reflection flickering in the eyes of the people who loved and feared him."—Los Angeles Times Reviews

"Mr. Hirsch proves a good guide through the perplexing duality of Preminger's lifeFoster Hirsch has written a balanced, intelligent, compelling biography of a very erratic director."—Scott Eyman, The Observer

"Foster Hirsch's massive, sympathetic new biography Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King nakedly aspires to rehabilitate Preminger's tattered reputation. Hirsch's prolonged defense of Preminger's eclectic, oft-maligned oeuvre is comprehensive and scholarly."—Nathan Rabin, AV Club

9780813152905 : otto-preminger-2nd-edition-hirsch
Paperback / softback
October 26, 2021
$34.95 USD

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