Richard Brooks

Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster as The Professionals (1966)

Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster as The Professionals (1966)

  • Born: 1912
  • Died: 1992
  • Rank: 88
  • Score: 500.20
  • Feature Films: 24
  • Awards: NBR
  • Nominations: 3 Oscars / 6 DGA / 2 Golden Globes
  • Awards Note: Won WGA and screenwriting Oscar
  • Best Film: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Worst Film: The Happy Ending

Top 5 Films:

  1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – 1958
  2. In Cold Blood – 1967
  3. The Professionals – 1966
  4. Elmer Gantry – 1960
  5. Sweet Bird of Youth - 1962

Top 10 Director finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1958 – 3rd – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • 1966 – 2nd – The Professionals
  • 1967 – 5th – In Cold Blood

Richard Brooks started out in film as a writer. He wrote the original novel the film Crossfire was based on, wrote the screenplay for Brute Force and collaborated with John Huston on Key Largo. In 1950 he moved into directing as well. He made solid films for several years but in 1958, he moved towards great literature and into a new era in his filmmaking.

First he made a solid adaptation of Brothers Karamazov, but followed that with the fantastic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In the next decade he would adapt Sinclair Lewis, Tennessee Williams (a second time), Joseph Conrad and Truman Capote. He veered back away from this after In Cold Blood, and his films never reached such a peak of artistic quality again. His final film, Fever Pitch, in 1985, was nominated for 4 Razzies, including double nominations for Brooks himself as writer and director.

The Professionals – #3 film of 1966

The traditional image of the Western is of John Wayne, alone out in the landscape, the loner on a horse. But many of the best Westerns emphasized the relationship between men (including Wayne’s best film, The Searchers). The Professionals has often been lost in the shuffle of great Westerns (so much so that AFI didn’t even include it on the ballot for Westerns in its Genre lists), especially because Butch Cassidy, made three years later used the same comedy buddy picture as its theme and is so much better remembered.

But The Professionals is a great film, one that deserves to be remembered. It was acclaimed at the time, getting three Oscar nominations (including Director and Adapted Screenplay), nominations from the DGA and WGA and a Best Picture nomination at the Golden Globes. It’s a great example of a buddy picture, with the fantastic friendship between Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin.

It’s really a good thing that Burt Lancaster won an Oscar for Elmer Gantry (another Brooks film), because otherwise he would thrown in with Kirk Douglas, Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole as one of the great all-time under-appreciated actors. Lancaster was gifted physically, he could do great comedy, serious drama, and he had such magnificent charisma. Every time he’s on screen he just brings energy and charisma. He’s like the anti-Brad Pitt.

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