Alfred Santell

Active - 1915 - 1946  |   Born - Sep 14, 1895   |   Died - Jul 30, 1981   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Action

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Alfred Santell enrolled in Los Angeles University with the intention of becoming an architect. However, Santell derived more pleasure from writing and publishing short stories than drawing up blueprints. In the infant film industry from 1914, the teen-aged Santell worked as a jack-of-all-trades at the Lubin Studios, then went on direct one- and two-reelers for Mack Sennett and other producers. While at Kalem, Santell piloted several entries in the long-running "Ham and Bud" comedy series. His first feature-length directorial assignment, which he also scripted, was 1920's It Might Happen to You. Santell spent the 1920s as the busy but relatively anonymous director of such self-starting luminaries as Gloria Swanson, Richard Barthelmess and George Arliss. He made a graceful transition to talkies in 1929, continuing to turn out fine work for MGM, Fox, Paramount, RKO and the rest of the front-rank studios. Thanks to their current public-domain status, Santell's unstagey film adaptations of Maxwell Anderson's Winterset (1935) and Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape (1943) are among the director's best-known works. Having directed the first talkie version of Jack London's The Sea Wolf in 1930, Santell was a natural choice to helm the 1944 biopic Jack London, which has also become a familiar TV and home-video attraction since slipping into public domain. Alfred Santell both produced and directed many of his later theatrical features, including Mexicana (1945) and That Brennan Girl (1946); after 1950, he worked exclusively in television.

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