Martin Ritt

Active - 1944 - 1991  |   Born - Mar 2, 1914   |   Died - Dec 8, 1990   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American film director Martin Ritt started out as a Broadway actor. Ritt's stage role as "Gleason" in Winged Victory brought him to Hollywood for the film version, for which the studio publicity billed him, along with the rest of the male cast, by the rank he held in the Army (Private First Class Martin Ritt). A victim of the Hollywood blacklist, Ritt's career came to a standstill in the early 1950s. He reemerged, not as an actor, but as a director for the 1956 film Edge of the City. A favorite of actor Paul Newman, Ritt directed Newman in The Long Hot Summer (1958), Paris Blues (1961), Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962), Hud (1963), The Outrage (1964) and Hombre (1967). Other Ritt-directed films of note were Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), Cross Creek (1984), Murphy's Romance (1985), and, his last film, Stanley and Iris (1990). If there doesn't seem to be a central throughline in these films it was because Ritt steadfastly refused to be typecast as a director. One project that brought him immense satisfaction was The Front (1976), a comedy-drama of the blacklist years in which Ritt worked with fellow blacklistees Martin Balsam, Zero Mostel, Joshua Shelley, Herschel Bernardi, Lloyd Gough, and screenwriter Walter Bernstein. In 1985, Ritt made a surprising but delightful return to acting in the role of an excitable baseball manager in the otherwise disposable The Slugger's Wife (1985).

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