Benedek, Laszlo: Director Career; Filmography

Hungarian director and cinematographer László Benedek was born in Budapest on March 5, 1905; he died March 11, 1992

He gained recognition for his direction of the film version of Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1951), for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Director and a Best Director nomination from the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

However, it was for his directorial efforts on his next project that Benedek is best remembered. His motorcycle gang film The Wild One (1953) stirred controversy in the US and was banned in the UK until 1968.

He was born in Budapest. He intended to be a psychiatrist and studied at Vienna and Berlin. He initially worked in the film industry just to pay his bills.

In Germany, Benedek was cinematographer on The Mistress (1927). He assisted on The Great Longing (1929), directed by Steve Sekely, and edited and assisted directed The Man Who Murdered (1931) for Curtis Bernhardt.

He worked at UFA for Joe Pasternak until 1933. He assisted on Hyppolit, the Butler (1931) and edited Die Wasserteufel von Hieflau (1932), and Miss Iza (1933).

When the Nazis came to power, Benedek followed Pasternak to Vienna then Hungary where he edited A Precocious Girl (1934), starring Franciska Gaal, and assisted on Temptation (1934), both directed by Max Nuefeld.

Benedek went to England where he worked as a writer on The Secret of Stamboul (1936), directed by fellow Hungarian expatriate Andrew Marton.

In 1937 he moved to the US, where he worked on the montage scenes of Test Pilot (1938) at MGM. He edited A Little Bit of Heaven (1940) for Pasternak at Universal.

At MGM he was assistant director on Song of Russia (1944) and worked as an associate producer under Joe Pasternak. He did screen tests, second unit directing, and supervised the animated dance sequence in Anchors Away (1945).

In 1946 he was linked with communist front organizations.

Benedek made his feature film directing debut with The Kissing Bandit (1948) at MGM, produced by Pasternak, which was a flop.

He went to Eagle Lion where he directed a film noir, Port of New York (1949) starring Yul Brynner. For Stanley Kramer he then made Death of a Salesman (1951), which was a financial disappointment.

He produced but did not direct Storm Over Tibet (1952) (Marton directed).

He began to direct TV, notably episodes of Footlights Theater, and The Ford Television Theatre.

Kramer assigned him to direct The Wild One (1953), starring Marlon Brando in iconic performance (the film was originally called The Cyclist’s Raid).

He then went  over to Universal to make Bengal Rifles (1954) with Rock Hudson.

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