Val Lewton

Active - 1942 - 2007  |   Born - May 7, 1904   |   Died - Mar 14, 1951   |   Genres - Horror, Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Bruce Eder

A Columbia University graduate and former writer, Val Lewton first made a name for himself in films as an assistant to David O. Selznick in the 1930s, and co-directed the Bastille scene in A Tale of Two Cities (1938). In 1942, Lewton became a producer at RKO, specializing in low budget but extremely effect chillers, such as Leopard Man (1943), Cat People (1942), The Seventh Victim (1943), and Curse of the Cat People (1944), co-writing several of them. Lewton hoped to move into A-pictures, but his slightly higher budgeted Bedlam (1945) failed to make as much money as was hoped, and he was told to continue with smaller scale films. He left RKO and continued trying to produce movies elsewhere, but none of his subsequent pictures had the style or appeal of those small-scale, atmospheric chillers which Lewton virtually directed himself, so precisely did his scripts indicate what he wanted from his directors. Lewton died of a heart attack in 1951 while trying to revive his career.

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