Arnold, Jack: Director Career; Filmography

Jack Arnold was born October 14, 1916 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Russian immigrant parents. As a child he read a lot of science fiction, which laid the foundations for his films of the 1950s.

Hoping to become a professional actor, he enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where his classmates included Hume Cronyn, Betty Field and Garson Kanin.

After graduating he worked as a vaudeville dancer and in 1935 began getting roles in Broadway plays.

He was acting in My Sister Eileen when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he immediately enlisted as a cadet for pilot training.

While Arnold intended to become a pilot, a shortage of planes meant he was temporarily placed in the Signal Corps, where he took a crash course in cinematography. He then became a cameraman and learned the techniques of filmmaking by assisting Robert Flaherty on various military films, after which he became a pilot in the Air Corps.

After the war, he formed a partnership with an air squadron buddy Lee Goodman to form a film production company. Their new venture, Promotional Films Company, made fundraising films for non-profit organizations. He also continued acting in plays including a revival of The Front Page, and played opposite Bela Lugosi and Elaine Stritch in Three Indelicate Ladies.

“Jack Arnold dominated the science fiction field during his brief career. No imprint lingers so indelibly on the face of modern fantasy film as that of this obscure yet brilliant artist. All his films, no matter how tawdry, were marked with a brilliant personal vision. He exists as an éminence grise on the horizon of fantasy film, inscrutable, mysterious, almost impossible both to analyze and to ignore.”  John Baxter, filmmaker and author.

By 1950, he was commissioned to produce and direct With These Hands, a docu about working conditions of the early 20th century, which went on to receive a nomination for Best Documentary Oscar.

Arnold is best known for his sci-fi films, including It Came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Tarantula (1955), and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).

They are noted for their atmospheric black-and-white cinematography and smart scripts. The Incredible Shrinking Man is considered his “masterpiece,” an original and intelligent fantasy film.

Arnold’s main collaborator at Universal Studios was producer William Alland. Revenge of the Creature in 1955 was Clint Eastwood’s debut film.

Arnold also made some non-Sci-Fi films, such as westerns. His best western is “No Name on the Bullet” (1959) about a town frightened to hysteria by the arrival of a gunman who never reveals who he is. The film was shot in  CinemaScope, and has been restored.

He also directed The Mouse That Roared (1959), in which Peter Sellers played three roles.

Arnold began his TV career in 1955 with several episodes of Science Fiction Theater. He then directed the long-running TV series Perry Mason and Peter Gunn. He also directed episodes of such television shows as Nanny and the Professor, Alias Smith and Jones, The Fall Guy, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, Wonder Woman, Ellery Queen, Mr. Terrific, Mr. Lucky, and The San Pedro Beach Bums.

His last feature was the TV movie Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980).

Arnold died of arteriosclerosis in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, March 17, 1992, at the age of 75.

 

Filmography

1950s (19)

With These Hands (1950)

Girls in the Night (1953)

It Came from Outer Space (1953)

The Glass Web (1953)

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

The Man from Bitter Ridge (1955)

Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Tarantula (1955)

Red Sundown (1956)

Outside the Law (1956)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Tattered Dress (1957)

Man in the Shadow (1957)

The Lady Takes a Flyer (1958)

High School Confidential (1958)

The Space Children (1958)

Monster on the Campus (1958)

No Name on the Bullet (1959)

The Mouse That Roared (1959)

 

1960s (4)

Bachelor in Paradise (1961)

A Global Affair (1964)

The Lively Set (1964)

Hello Down There (1969)

 

1970s (4)

Black Eye (1974)

Boss Nigger (1975)

The Swiss Conspiracy (1976)

The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West (1976)

 

Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980) (TV)

 

Career Summary

Career Output: 27 features