Franklin J. Schaffner

Franklin J. Schaffner

Active - 1962 - 1989  |   Born - May 30, 1920   |   Died - Jul 2, 1989   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Mystery

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Biography by AllMovie

Born in Japan to American Protestant missionaries, director Franklin J. Schaffner first set foot on American soil at age five. After spending his childhood in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Schaffner studied pre-law at Franklin and Marshall College, then moved on to Columbia University's law school. After World War II navy service, Schaffner decided to abandon law; virtually by a fluke, he received an assistant director's job with the March of Time, a filmed news service. From there Schaffner went to CBS' news, sports and public affairs department. Producer Worthington Miner took note of some of the documentaries Schaffner had assembled at CBS, and put the young director in charge of the fledgling TV network's dramatic department. Among Schaffner's TV directorial credits were such top-level anthologies as Studio One, Playhouse 90 and DuPont Show of the Month. Hollywood producer Jerry Wald was impressed by Schaffner's TV output and hired the director to helm the 1963 film The Stripper. The following year, Schaffner directed the film he personally considered his finest: The Best Man (1964), which won several awards (but not the Oscar it deserved). Schaffner's first big-budget project was The Warlord (1965); the director later credited this period epic with sparking his fascination with different cultures. One couldn't find a culture more different than the simian society of Planet of the Apes (1968), a film that Schaffner was engaged to direct after Blake Edwards pulled out. The box-office success of Planet prompted 20th Century-Fox to assign Schaffner another potential blockbuster, the Oscar-winning Patton (1970). It is at this point that Schaffner's Hollywood career truly peaked; with the exception of such films as Papillon (1973), most of the director's subsequent projects were of diminishing quality. By 1982, a weary Schaffner was trying to make a workable film out of the Luciano Pavoratti disaster Yes, Giorgio. Just before his death in 1989, Franklin Schaffner returned to the small, intimate type of film with which he began his career with the uneven but occasionally worthwhile Welcome Home.

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