RIP Arthur Penn

arthur penn

He wasn’t a young man, though he always seemed a lot younger than his age. So, it’s still a bit of a sad surprise to read that Arthur Penn, one of the most notable American directors of the sixties and seventies, has died at age 88.

There aren’t a lot of clear dividing lines in life, but as close as you can probably get to that in film history is that American movies made after 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde” were most definitely different in any number of ways from movies made before it. Sure, there was the increased freedom with sexuality and violence, but there was also a looser and more European-inspired feeling in U.S. movies, for a time anyway. That’s not to say Penn was anything like a cinematic one-hit wonder. “The Miracle Worker,” “Little Big Man,” “Night Moves,” and “Mickey One,” at least were all remarkable and important films in their way. He was also, by the way, a major figure in the American theater and in the history of television as well.

I learned the sad news via the terrific blog, The Sheila Variations, and Sheila in turn led me to the very good and detailed obituary at the New York Times.

As always when a cinema great passes, there’s more from MUBI’s David Hudson. Also, I’ve got just a few videos after the flip.

“It is a good day to die. Thank you for making me a human being.”

“Well, sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”


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