Aldrich, Robert: Director of The Dirty Dozen, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Research in Progress (Feb 11, 2021)

Robert Aldrich was born on August 9, 1918  Cranston, Rhode Island.

He went to Hollywood in 1941 and worked his way up from production clerk at RKO.

He was a script clerk then assistant to several directors (including Dmytryk, Milestone, Renoir, Wellman, Polonsky, Fleischer, Losey, and Chaplin), then production manager, and next associate producer.

At the same time, he started writing and directing episodes for TV series, such as The Doctor and China Smith.

In 1953 he directed his first feature film, “The Big Leaguer.”

In 1954 he established his own production company, Associates and Aldrich, and thereafter produced many of his own films.

Aldrich has gained much from his TV experience and from working as assistant on such films as The Southerner, G.I. Joe, Force of Evil, and Limelight.

His individual style is characterized by restless camera, frantic motion within shots and in the progression of a sequence, often underlined by violence, brutality, and grotesque chaos.

He won the Silver Award of the Venice Festival for The Big Knife in 1955, the Italian Critics Award for Attack! in 1956, and the best director award at the Berlin Festival for Autumn Leaves, also in 1956.

The financial success of The Dirty Dozen (1967) enabled him to acquire his own studio, but subsequent debacles forced him to sell it in 1973.

He served for a time as the president of the Directors Guild of America (DGA)

His daughter, Adell Aldrich (born June 11, 1943 in Los Angeles), and his son, William McLaughry Aldrich (born October 17, 1944 in Los Angeles), both became filmmakers.

He died 1983, at the age of 65.


  • The Southerner (1945) (assistant director)
  • The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) (assistant director)
  • Caught (1949) (uncredited director of reshoots)
  • When I Grow Up (1950) (assistant director)
  • Limelight (1952) (assistant director)
  • Director
  • Big Leaguer (1953) (director, debut)
  • World for Ransom (1954) (uncredited director, producer
  • Apache (1954) (director)
  • Vera Cruz (1954) (director)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (1955) (director, producer)
  • The Big Knife (1955) (director, producer)
  • Autumn Leaves (1956) (director)
  • Attack (1956) (director, producer)
  • The Gamma People (1956) (story)
  • The Garment Jungle (1957) (uncredited director)
  • Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) (director, writer)
  • The Angry Hills (1959) (director)
  • The Last Sunset (1961) (director)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) (director)
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) (director, producer
  • 4 for Texas (1963) (director, writer, producer)
  • Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) (director, producer)
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) (director, producer)
  • The Dirty Dozen (1967) (director)
  • The Legend of Lyla Claire (1968) (director, producer)
  • The Killing of Sister George (1968) (director, producer)
  • The Greatest Mother of Them All (short film) (1969) (director, producer)
  • What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969) (producer)
  • Too Late the Hero (1970) (director, writer, producer)
  • The Grisom Gang (1971) (director, producer)
  • Ulzana’s Raid (1972) (director)
  • Emperor of the North (1973) (director)
  • The Longest Yard (1974) (director)
  • Hustle (1975) (director, producer)
  • Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977) (director)
  • The Choirboys (1977) (director)
  • The Frisco Kid (1979) (director)
  • ….All the Marbles (1981) (director)