Mark Robson

Active - 1941 - 2018  |   Born - Dec 4, 1913   |   Died - Jun 20, 1978   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Thriller

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Canadian-born Mark Robson began his career in the movie industry in the prop department at 20th Century-Fox, and subsequently joined RKO, where he moved through various departments before settling into editing. He worked with Robert Wise on the editing of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, and then, with Wise, was swept up in the turmoil surrounding Welles' ouster from the studio, and landed a spot as an editor working for Val Lewton's B-movie unit at RKO. Robson (later joined by Wise) succeeded Jacques Tourneur as Lewton's director for his low budget horror movies -- today regarded as some of the finest pictures ever made by the studio -- including The Ghost Ship and The Seventh Victim. RKO's instability finally led to Robson's exit in 1948. He was fortunate to find a berth with independent producer Stanley Kramer, who was about to embark on an ambitious program of film production -- among the movies that Robson got to direct were Champion (1949), one of the most celebrated boxing movies of its era, and Home of the Brave (1949). Robson also went to work for Samuel Goldwyn and directed the underrated, seldom seen dark drama Edge of Doom (1950) and the Korean War drama I Want You (1951). He reached his commercial peak soon after, with films such as The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1955); The Harder They Fall (1956), Humphrey Bogart's final film); and Peyton Place (1957), which moved Robson into big-budget, high-profile movies. The Prize (1963), Von Ryan's Express (1965), and Valley of the Dolls (1967) were among his most successful films of the 1960s. He seemed to lose his commercial touch after that, although he made a brief comeback -- at least to box office success -- in the 1970s in a production partnership with Robert Wise, with the movie Earthquake (1974), a critical and artistic disaster that cleaned up at the box office.

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