Christy Cabanne

Active - 1912 - 2018  |   Born - Apr 16, 1888   |   Died - Oct 15, 1950   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Adventure, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

William Christy Cabanne (usually billed minus the "William") was an American film director of considerable longevity but little distinction. He started as jack-of-all-trades in several New York studios, making his screen acting debut in Cord of Life (1909). Under the supervision of D. W. Griffith, Cabanne began directing films for Triangle Studios, chalking up such credits as Enoch Arden (1915) and Douglas Fairbanks' first feature The Lamb (1915). Cabanne became one of Fairbanks' favorite directors, for much the same reason that he flourished in the 1920s: Cabanne was efficient, organized, and he didn't get in the star's way with any attention-getting artistry of his own. In one of his few associations with a "blockbuster," Cabanne was a casting director and production assistant for MGM's Ben-Hur (1926). He had no trouble adjusting to sound, churning out programmers like Graft (1931), Rendezvous at Midnight (1935) and The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1937). Only in a few scattered productions like the 1934 version of Jane Eyre or 1940's The Mummy's Hand did Cabanne evince any sort of individual style, though he was seldom able to sustain that style for a full seven or eight reels. In 1944, Cabanne directed the only color film ever made by Bela Lugosi, Scared to Death, but the picture was of such low quality that it remained unreleased for three years. Cabanne flourished until the late 1940s, cranking out B-minus westerns like King of the Bandits (1947) and Silver Trails (1948). The "Christy Cabanne" frequently listed amongst the bit players in Cecil B. DeMille's 1942 Reap the Wild Wind is most likely starlet Christine Cabanne, a relative of the director.

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