Emil Anton Bundsmann
June 30, 1906
|Died||April 29, 1967 (aged 60)|
(m. 1936; div. 1957)
(m. 1957; div. 1963)
Anthony Mann (born Emil Anton Bundsmann; June 30, 1906 – April 29, 1967) was an American film director and stage actor, best remembered for his work in the film noir and Westerns genres. As a director, he often collaborated with the cinematographer John Alton. He directed films for a variety of production companies, from RKO to MGM, and worked with many major stars of the era. He made several Westerns with James Stewart, such as Winchester '73 (1950), and he was the director of the medieval epic El Cid (1961), working with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. He also directed the big-budget film Cimarron (1960), which starred Glenn Ford and Maria Schell.
Mann was born Emil Anton Bundsmann in San Diego, California. His father, Emile Theodore Bundsmann, an academic, was born in the village of Rosice, Chrudim, Bohemia to a Sudeten-German Catholic family. His mother, Bertha Weichselbaum, a drama teacher, was an American of Bavarian Jewish descent.
Shortly after their marriage, Mann's parents joined the Theosophical Society community of Lomaland in San Diego County where there was an emphasis on artistic, religious, and military training and where children were raised separately from their parents.
When Mann was three, his parents returned to his father's native Austria to seek treatment for Professor Bundsmann's ill health, leaving Mann behind in Lomaland. Mann's mother did not return for Mann until he was fourteen, and only then at the urging of a cousin who had paid him a visit and was worried about his treatment and situation at Lomaland.
With his father permanently institutionalized, Mann and his mother struggled financially in Newark, New Jersey, with Mann maintaining many odd jobs throughout the remainder of his middle and high school years. Mann appeared in some high school productions with his friend and classmate, future Hollywood studio executive Dore Schary. Schary graduated from Newark's Central High School, but Mann dropped out in his senior year.
Mann moved to New York and took a night job that enabled him to look for stage work during the day. He used the name "Anton Bundsmann".
He appeared as an actor in The Blue Peter (1925), The Little Clay Cart (1926), and Uncle Vanya (1929). In 1930 he began directing as well, but he continued to act, appearing in The Streets of New York, or Poverty is No Crime (1931), and The Bride the Sun Shines On (1933). He directed Thunder on the Left (1933).
He worked for various stock companies, and in 1934 set up his own which later became Long Island's Red Barn Playhouse.
He later directed So Proudly We Hail (1936).
During these years he met and married his first wife Mildred when they both worked at Macy's department store in New York City. Contrary to misleading newspaper reports, Mildred was a clerk and not a store executive or manager. They had two children and divorced in 1956. Mann's second wife was the Spanish actress Sara Montiel, from 1957 to 1963.
In 1937, Mann accepted an offer to work for Selznick International Pictures as a talent scout, casting director and screen test director. Among the films he worked on were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Intermezzo (1939) and Rebecca (1940).
He stayed in New York and continued to direct plays such as Haiti for the Federal Theatre, The Big Blow (1938). and The Hard Way (1940).
Mann did notable, but mostly lost, work as a director for NBC's experimental television station W2XBS in 1939-'40. This included condensations of the hit Western play The Missouri Legend and the melodrama The Streets of New York. A five-minute silent clip of the latter show survives in the Museum of Television and Radio, including noted actors Norman Lloyd and George Coulouris.
Mann did not return to television in its commercial years.
Mann became an assistant director by the 1940s, assisting Preston Sturges on the film Sullivan's Travels (1941), and subsequently directing low-budget assignments for RKO and Republic Pictures.
Mann made his directorial debut with Dr. Broadway (1942) at Paramount. He followed it with Moonlight in Havana (1943) at Universal.
In 1944 it was reported he might return to Broadway to direct Mirror for Children.
Mann went to Republic where he made Nobody's Darling (1944), My Best Gal (1944), Strangers in the Night (1944), and The Great Flamarion (1945).
Mann moved to RKO to direct Two O'Clock Courage (1945) and Sing Your Way Home (1945) then back to Republic for Strange Impersonation (1946). He did The Bamboo Blonde (1946) at RKO.
Mann's career took a leap when he made T-Men (1947) for Eagle-Lion Films. It was a critical and commercial success. He followed it with Railroaded! (1947).
He went back to RKO for Desperate (1947) then had another big success at Eagle-Lion with Raw Deal (1948). He also assisted in the making of He Walked by Night (1948), although his contribution to the latter was uncredited.
Dore Schary, then head of production at MGM, hired Mann to make Border Incident (1949).
He directed Reign of Terror (1949) for Eagle-Lion, and did some uncredited work on Follow Me Quietly (1949) at RKO.
Mann's first "A" film was the Western The Furies (1950) at Paramount starring Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston.
He followed this with a Western at Universal, starring James Stewart, Winchester '73 (1950). The picture was a huge success and completely reinvigorated Stewart's faltering postwar career.
MGM hired Mann to direct Side Street (1950). He stayed at that studio to do a popular Western with Robert Taylor, Devil's Doorway (1950) and a thriller with Dick Powell, The Tall Target (1952).
Mann was reunited with Stewart for another Western at Universal, Bend of the River (1952). The actor and director made a contemporary adventure film, Thunder Bay (1953) at Universal and a Western, The Naked Spur (1953) at MGM.
Mann and Stewart had their biggest success to-date with The Glenn Miller Story (1954). Also well received was their "Northern", The Far Country (1954) with Walter Brennan.
Mann went to Columbia to make a Western without Stewart, The Last Frontier (1955), with Victor Mature. Star and director were reunited on The Man from Laramie (1955) at Columbia. Then Stewart and Mann were meant to make Night Passage (1957) together, but had a disagreement and another director took over; they never collaborated again.
Mann directed a musical starring Mario Lanza, Serenade (1956). Here he met and worked with actress Sara Montiel, who became his second wife.
He made a western with Henry Fonda, The Tin Star (1957) then teamed with Philip Yordan to make two movies starring Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray, Men in War (1957), about the Korean War, and God's Little Acre (1958). In between, he directed Gary Cooper in a Western, Man of the West (1958).
Mann went to MGM to direct Glenn Ford in an expensive remake of Cimarron (1960), which failed to recoup its cost at the box office. He was also the original director of Spartacus (1960), but was fired early in production by producer-star Kirk Douglas and replaced with Stanley Kubrick, having shot a handful of scenes.
Mann received an offer from producer Samuel Bronston to do a medieval epic written by Yordan, El Cid (1961). It was a notable success.
However a follow-up epic for the same collaborators, The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), was a huge flop and contributed to the demise of Bronston's empire.
In 1964, he was head of the jury at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival. He then made a British war film starring Douglas and Richard Harris, The Heroes of Telemark (1965).
In 1967, Mann died from a heart attack in Berlin while filming the spy thriller A Dandy in Aspic. The film was completed by the film's star Laurence Harvey.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Anthony Mann has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6229 Hollywood Boulevard.