Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Director Andrew V. McLaglen Passes On

Andrew V. McLaglen, who directed many hours of televisions shows as well as several Western films, died on 30 August 2014 at the age of 94.

Andrew V. McLaglen was born on 28 July 1920 in London. His father was actor Victor McLaglen. Andrew V. McLaghen was still very young when his family moved to Hollywood in the early Twenties. He attended the Cate School in Carpinteria, California. He then attended the University of Virginia for a year. During World War II he was disqualified for service because at 6 foot 7 inches he was considered simply too tall for the service. During the war he worked for Lockheed, overseeing the production of the wings of P38s. It was during the war that he made his only two appearances in films as an actor. He had an uncredited role in the film Since You Went Away (1944) and played the role of Sgt. McNair in Paris Underground (1945).

Despite the small size of the parts, the two films reignited his childhood desire to work in film. He contacted Herbert T. Yates, then president of Republic Pictures, about getting a job at the studio. Mr. Yates gave him a position as a production clerk on Love, Honour and Goodbye (1945). He then served as a production assistant on the film Dakota (1945). Dakota would mark the first time he worked with John Wayne, with whom he would make many more films. Andrew V. MacLaglen worked for Republic for the next two years He worked as a clerk on Angel and the Badman (1947) before approaching Herbert T. Yates about becoming a second assistant director.

As a second assistant director Andrew V. McLaglen worked on such films as Killer Shark (1950), Bullfighter and the Lady (1951), Here Come the Marines (1952), Big Jim McLain (1952), Island in the Sky (1953), The High and the Mighty (1954), Track of the Cat (1954), and Blood Alley (1955). It was in 1956 that Andrew V. McLaglen received his first directing credit, on the Western Gun the Man Down starring James Arness. In the Fifties he would go onto direct the films Man in the Vault (1956),  and The Abductors (1957). He directed a good deal of television in the Fifties, including the majority of episodes of the classic Have Gun--Will Travel (including the very first episode). He also directed several episodes of Perry Mason, Rawhide, and Gunsmoke.

Although he continued to work in television, Andrew V. McLaglen's career shifted towards making movies in the Sixties. Among the films he made in the decade was the classic Western comedy McLintock! (1963), starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. He worked again during the decade with John Wayne on the films Hellfighters (1968), The Undefeated (1969), and Chisum (1970). He also directed such films as The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1961), Shenandoah (1965), The Rare Breed (1966), The Ballad of Josie (1967), The Way West (1967), and The Devil's Brigade (1968). He also directed several episodes of Have Gun--Will Travel and Gunsmoke, as well as episodes of such shows as The Virginian, The Lieutenant, and Wagon Train.

In the Seventies Andrew V. McLaglen directed such films as One More Train to Rob (1971), Something Big (1971), Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973), The Last Hard Men (1976), The Wild Geese (1978), Ffolkes (1979), Breakthrough (1979), and The Sea Wolves (1980). He directed episodes of the TV shows Hec Ramsey, Amy Prentiss, and The Fantastic Journey. In the Eighties Mr. McLaglen directed the films Sahara (1983) and Return from the River Kwai (1989), as well as episodes of the mini-series The Blue and the Grey and On the Wings of Eagles and the TV movie The Shadow Riders. His last film was Eye of the Widow, released in 1991.

There can be little doubt that  Andrew V. McLaglen was perfectly suited to the Western genre. He directed a large number of them, both in film and on television. What Mr. McLaglen brought to the Western was an apparently innate feel for the genre.When Andrew V. McLaglen made a Western, there was no mistaking that it was a Western. He also had a gift for directing action scenes, a gift not only in display in his films, but in the TV show episodes he directed as well. If Have Gun--Will Travel is still considered a classic, it is not simply because of its talented star (the incredible Richard Boone) or its writers (which included creator Sam Rolfe), but because of Andrew V. McLaglen's talent for creating taut, exciting action sequences. What is more, Andrew V. McLaglen's talent for action extended to physical comedy.  If  McLintock! is still loved today, it is perhaps because of it sometimes complex sequences of slapstick. Andrew V. McLaglen's output could be uneven, but when his films were good they were among the very best.

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