Dark turns in Penn’s ca­reer

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - PA­TRICK GOLD­STEIN

It’s hard to think of a di­rec­tor who changed the course of Hollywood films as much with one movie as Arthur Penn, who died Tues­day at 88. The film, of course, was 1967’s “Bon­nie and Clyde,” which ush­ered in a tu­mul­tuous new era that brought us such land­mark movies as “The God­fa­ther,” “Chi­na­town,” “Taxi Driver,” “Sham­poo” and “The French Con­nec­tion” — all made by film­mak­ers whose ca­reer paths were given a huge boost by Penn’s un­likely suc­cess.

Of course, the dirty lit­tle se­cret about Penn’s own ca­reer path was that he was given the bum’s rush over and over by the barons of the movie busi­ness. Few film­mak­ers of Penn’s stature have been treated as badly as he was, both dur­ing his as­cent and his de­cline.

Af­ter hav­ing suc­cess in the theater and on tele­vi­sion, where he di­rected nearly 40 episodes of live TV dur­ing the 1950s, Penn came to Hollywood to make “The Left-Handed Gun” at Warner Bros., with Paul New­man in the star­ring role as Billy the Kid with Freudian is­sues. Re­gard­ing Penn as some kind of pointy-headed East Coast in­tel­lec­tual, Jack Warner sent Penn pack­ing as soon as the di­rec­tor had

John MacDougall

AFP/Getty Im­ages

DI­REC­TOR: Penn made ’67’s “Bon­nie and Clyde.”

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