Joseph Losey

Active - 1939 - 2003  |   Born - Jan 14, 1909   |   Died - Jun 22, 1984   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Mystery

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Biography by AllMovie

Wisconsinite Joseph Losey entered the entertainment industry through the patron's entrance, writing book and theatre reviews in the early 1930s. Attaining work as a stage director, Losey prepared many of the early live presentations at the Radio City Music Hall, participated in theatrical tours of Scandanavia and Russia, and made his Broadway debut in 1936 with the first of the agit-prop Living Newspaper productions. His earliest movie work was as director of documentaries for the Rockefeller Foundation; he moved on to industrial shorts, a marionette film for the Petroleum Industry's exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, and a staff director post on MGM's Crime Does Not Pay short-subject series. After radio work and World War II service, Losey directed the celebrated 1947 Hollywood stage production of Bertold Brecht's Galileo, starring Charles Laughton. This led to Losey's first feature-film directing assignment, RKO's The Boy with Green Hair (1949), a sentimental drama with pacifistic overtones. Losey's favorite of his Hollywood films was The Prowler (1951), which contained the quintessential Joseph Losey "hero": a man who knows he is orchestrating his own downfall, but can't stop himself. While in Italy filming Stranger on the Prowl (1951), Losey declined a summons to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Blacklisted as a result, Losey relocated in England, where his film career at long last shifted into high gear. With The Servant (1963), Losey directed from a Harold Pinter script for the first time, and thereafter his cinematic style changed radically; where once he had concentrated on fast action and clear-cut storytelling, his films became studied, ponderous, and sometimes downright dull. A muddled attempt to capture the "mod" audience, 1967's Modesty Blaise, only emphasized how out of sync Losey's work had become in this period. He regained his momentum with 1971's The Go-Between (another Pinter project), which, like The Servant, won several international awards. Moving from England to France in the mid 1970s, Losey returned briefly to the theatre, staging an elaborate production of Boris Godunov in 1980. While most of Losey's last film projects were shot in France, he went back to England for his final project, Steaming (1985); he died in London in 1984, with his fourth wife at his side.

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