Oscar Directors: Sturges, John–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

September 28, 2020

John Sturges Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance:

Nationality: Japanese

Social Class:



Formal Education:

Training: editor

First Film: The Man Who Dared, 1946, aged 36


First Oscar Nomination:  Bad Day at Black Rock, 1955; aged 45

Gap between First Film and First Nom: 9 years

Other Oscars:

Other Oscar Nominations:

Oscar Awards:

Nominations Span:

Genre (specialties):

Popular: The Magnificent Seven, 1960; aged 50; Great Escape, 1963; aged 53

Collaborators: actor Steve McQueen

Last Film:


Career Length:

Career Output:



Death: 82

John Eliot Sturges (January 3, 1910 – August 18, 1992) was an American film director. His films include Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and Ice Station Zebra (1968).

In 2013, The Magnificent Seven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Although both he and fellow director Preston Sturges were from the Chicago area and shared the same last name, they had no known close relation to each other.

Sturges started his career in Hollywood as an editor in 1932. During World War II, Sturges directed documentaries and training films as a captain in the United States Army Air Forces.

Sturges’s mainstream directorial career began with The Man Who Dared (1946), the first of many B movies.

He made imaginative use of the widescreen CinemaScope format by placing Spencer Tracy alone against a vast desert panorama in the suspense film Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), for which he received a Best Director Oscar nomination.

Over the course of his career, Sturges developed a reputation for elevated character-based drama within the confines of genre filmmaking. He was awarded the Golden Boot Award in 1992 for his lifetime contribution to Westerns.

He once met Akira Kurosawa, who told him that he loved The Magnificent Seven (which was a remake of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai). Sturges considered this the proudest moment of his professional career. The Magnificent Seven was an inductee in the 2013 National Film Registry list.[4] Sturges commented that its popularity is due in part as a springboard for several young actors, transporting the locale from Japan to Mexico, putting a twist into the career of Yul Brynner, and having part of its score used as the Marlboro cigarette commercial theme.

Nominee Best Director — Academy Awards (Bad Day at Black Rock)
Nominee Palme d’Or — Cannes Film Festival (Bad Day at Black Rock)
Nominee Best Director — Directors Guild of America (Bad Day at Black Rock)
Nominee Best Director — Directors Guild of America (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (film))
Winner Best Foreign Language Film — Blue Ribbon Awards (Japan) (The Old Man and the Sea)
Nominee Best Picture — Hugo Awards (Marooned) (also, screenwriter Mayo Simon, author Martin Caidin)
Nominee Grand Prix — Moscow International Film Festival (The Great Escape)
Winner “Golden Eddie” Filmmaker of the Year — American Cinema Editors (1970)
Winner Golden Boot Award (1992)


The Man Who Dared (1946)
Shadowed (1946)
Alias Mr. Twilight (1946)
For the Love of Rusty (1947)
Keeper of the Bees (1947)
Thunderbolt (1947)
The Sign of the Ram (1948)
Best Man Wins (1948)
The Walking Hills (1949)
The Magnificent Yankee (1950)
The Capture (1950)
Mystery Street (1950)
Right Cross (1950)
Kind Lady (1951)
The People Against O’Hara (1951)
It’s a Big Country (1951)
The Girl in White (1952)
Jeopardy (1953)
Fast Company (1953)
Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Underwater! (1955)
The Scarlet Coat (1955)
Backlash (1956)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Saddle the Wind (uncredited, 1958)
The Law and Jake Wade (1958)
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
Never So Few (1959)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
By Love Possessed (1961)
Sergeants 3 (1962)
A Girl Named Tamiko (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
The Satan Bug (1965)
The Hallelujah Trail (1965)
Hour of the Gun (1967)
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Marooned (1969)
Le Mans (uncredited; quit during production, 1971)
Joe Kidd (1972)
Chino (1973)
McQ (1974)
The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
O’Sullivan, Michael (December 18, 2013). “Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections”. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
John Sturges at Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
“Died Today (August 18th) – Director John Sturges (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven)”. Festival Reviews. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
“Complete National Film Registry Listing”. Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
Singh, Anjuli. “Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles”. Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
Lovell, Glenn (December 2008). McGilligan, Patrick (ed.). Escape Artist. The Life and Films of John Sturges. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 352. ISBN 978-0-299-22834-7.
Further reading
Lovell, Glenn (2008), Escape Artist. The Life and Films of John Sturges, University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 978-0-299-22830-9
Gesprengte Ketten: The Great Escape, Behind the Scenes, Photographs of cameraman Walter Riml, Editor Helma Türk and Christian Riml, House Publishing 2013, English/German (Online)
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Sturges.
John Sturges on IMDb
John Sturges at Find a Grave
Films directed by John Sturges
The Man Who Dared (1946)Shadowed (1946)Alias Mr. Twilight (1946)For the Love of Rusty (1947)Keeper of the Bees (1947)Thunderbolt (1947)The Sign of the Ram (1948)Best Man Wins (1948)The Walking Hills (1949)The Capture (1950)Mystery Street (1950)Right Cross (1950)The Magnificent Yankee (1950)Kind Lady (1951)The People Against O’Hara (1951)It’s a Big Country (1951)The Girl in White (1952)Jeopardy (1953)Fast Company (1953)Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)Underwater! (1955)The Scarlet Coat (1955)Backlash (1956)Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)The Law and Jake Wade (1958)The Old Man and the Sea (1958)Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)Never So Few (1959)The Magnificent Seven (1960)By Love Possessed (1961)Sergeants 3 (1962)A Girl Named Tamiko (1962)The Great Escape (1963)The Satan Bug (1965)The Hallelujah Trail (1965)Hour of the Gun (1967)Ice Station Zebra (1968)Marooned (1969)Joe Kidd (1972)Chino (1973)McQ (1974)The Eagle Has Landed (1976)


Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges, by Glenn Lovell, University of Wisconsin Press in 2008.