Biography of Mark Robson (1913-1978)

American Director, born in Montreal (Canada) on December 4, 1913 and died in an attack on the heart in London, England, on June 20, 1978.


With contemptuous and simple rating, historian David Thomson dispatches as well the personality of Mark Robson: "possibly the shallowest talent that emerged from the circle of Orson Welles". In that group was formed around the Welles in the RKO were men such as Robert Aldrich or Robert Wise.

After studying political science and law in the Pacific Coast University, Robson became interested in the world of cinema and began his career from the bottom; He entered the Department of 20th Century Fox props and, shortly thereafter, moved to RKO, where he held various functions in film library and laboratory until, finally, settled in the room of installation, as an Assistant of Aldrich and Wise. As a result, had the opportunity to participate in the Assembly (although it appears not accredited) masterpiece of Welles Citizen Kane (1941) and take responsibility for the other two films wellesianos: the fourth commandment (1942) and Istanbul (1942), film which ended and finished signing Norman Foster. But his encounter was with producer Val Lewton, very active at that time as a creator and organizer of superb B movies at RKO Studios, which determined the subsequent course of Mark Robson.

Firstly, Lawton entrusted the installation of some of the most significant films of the exquisitely unsettling Jacques Tourneur: the female Panther (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and The Leopard man (1943); precisely this last film meant the end of the fruitful collaboration between Lawton and Tourneur, so the producer encouraged the disciplined Editor to put managers and made his debut in the direction, with the intention of finding a new Tourneur. However, the only thing Mark Robson showed was a remarkable technical expertise, based on the experience of Lawton teams. The Seventh Victim (1943) was the first film of that race, which followed other titles that remedaban Lawton-Tourneur style, but without the freshness of inspiration and the evil touches of this: The Ghost Ship (1943), Youth Runs Wild (1944), Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946), estimable films, no doubt, who established his professional reputation.

Another outstanding producer of the era claimed its services once Robson left RKO discipline: Stanley Kramer, who was imposing as independent, rebellious and committed, commissioned you the two films that mean its recognition by critics: the champion (1949) and Home of the Brave (1949). The first has almost come to become a cult film over the years and is, in any case, one of the strongest stories around the boxing world, with a strong interpretation of a young Kirk Douglas; the second opens the war theme in the Filmography of Robson, a theme that would deal with again on several occasions from different angles, emphasizing the serious injuries, both physical and psychological, caused by clashes in the fields of combat. In addition, Home of the Brave dare to introduce the topic of racism in American cinema.

The third significant producer in the professional evolution of Robson was Samuel Goldwyn, which filmed three movies: My Foolish Heart (1949), cloud of blood (1950) and do not want to say goodbye (1951). As its title suggests, cloud of blood is a dreary melodrama police, full of strange resonances of Lang and a neurotic presence of Farley Granger. The other two films correspond to the warlike aspect which has already pointed out: My Foolish Heart touches the theme as background to frame a love story that is told through tedious flash back, film that remains in the memory thanks to the beautiful song holder Victor Young. New Farley Granger (and Dana Andrews, who is involved in these three films) represents no quiero decirte Adiós a character tormented by the ravages of war, this time by the consequences of the war in Korea.

Established as a director that he had obtained some successful titles or which had been recognised by certain sectors of the criticism, Mark Robson became producer of his own works from the 1950's. He then sought topics that, in principle, could attract the attention of the box office: the suggestive landscapes of the Pacific Islands in a tale of adventure led by Gary Cooper (return to paradise, 1953); the comedy of sexual suggestions allegedly daring, with a triangle formed by Ava Gardner, David Niven and Stewart Granger (the cabin, 1957); the drama of social issue with criticism of the careerism in the intense interpretations of marriage Paul Newman-Joan Woodward (from the terrace, 1960); or the turbulent anti-nazi allegation involving film commissioned direct to another colleague: the inspector (1962), Philip Dunne, with Stephen Boyd.

Reach the end, outright commercial consecration with very different quality and different thematic titles: the bridges of Toko-Ri (1955), clumsy war spectacle spiced with torrential scenes of love between Grace Kelly and William Holden; Harder they fall (1956), convincing and sordid film boxing, notable also for being the last appearance before the cameras of Humphrey Bogart; and, above all, stormy lives (1957), sumptuous and Baroque soap opera in which Lana Turner moved to ease and that generated one of the longer fact of American television in the 1960s.

Installed on the path of certain successes, Mark Robson continued manufacturing of dubious quality, but calculated effective titles: the criminal intrigues that can arise from the granting of an as prestigious as the Nobel Prize: the prize (1963); the spectacular treatment of another tale set in the second World War: the Colonel von Ryan (1965); and another twist to the reef of the excessive soap opera, this time as a best-seller of Jacqueline Susan, popular at the time: the Valley of the dolls (1967).

Despite its undoubted success at the box office, Mark Robson preferred space its activity as a producer, or was perhaps preparing for a spectacular return. In fact, in 1974 teamed up with his old partner from the beginnings in the RKO, Robert Wise, to carry out a more spectacular, expensive films and increased performance of the 1970s: earthquake (1974), pioneer of the doomsday films that have occurred since then as an unstoppable avalanche. His last film was another story of intrigue and action in the cold war, the train of spies (1979): after shoot the exteriors in Italy, he returned to London to film the interiors and continue with the installation, when it surprised the death. Monte Hellman was commissioned to complete the task.


1943: The Seventh Victim; The Ghost Ship.1944: Youth Runs Wild.1945: Isle of the Dead.1946: Bedlam.1949: Roughshod; Champion; Home of the Brave; My Foolish Heart.1950: Sangre.1951 cloud: do not want to say goodbye; New amanecer.1953: return to the paraiso.1954: Hell below zero; The bridges of Toko-Ri; Phffft! 1955: the fury of the righteous; Robbery in the nubes.1956: the caida.1957-harder: stormy lives; The cabana.1958: the Inn of the sixth Felicidad.1960: from the terraza.1963: the prize; Nine hours of terror.1965: the Colonel von Ryan.1966: remote control perdido.1967: the Valley of the munecas.1969: Shock.1971: Happy Birthday, Wanda June.1972: love that esperan.1974: Terremoto.1979: train spies.

As producer: 1953: return to the paraiso.1957: hut (co-producer). 1960: from the terraza.1962: the inspector (Philip Dunne). 1963: nine hours of terror.1965: the Colonel von Ryan (Executive producer). 1966: command perdido.1967: the Valley of the dolls (co-Executive). 1969: Shock.1974: Terremoto.1979: train spies.

As Editor: 1941: Citizen Kane (no credit). 1942: the fourth commandment; Istanbul; The Falcon's Brother; Pantera.1943 woman: I Walked with a Zombie; The Leopard man.

As a screenwriter: 1946: Bedlam (co-writer). 1953: return to Paradise (co-writer).

As an actor: 1969: Shock.

J. García de Dueñas