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Film career surveys
Stanley Kubrick was born on July 26, 1928 in the Bronx, New York City.
By age 13 he had developed passions for jazz drumming, chess, and photography.
At 17 years of age he landed a job at Look magazine as a photographer. Worked there for several years, traveling all over America.
All of that traveling opened his eyes to the world and Kubrick developed a thirst for knowledge. He enrolled as a non-matriculating student at Columbia University and monitored classes taught by Lionel Trilling, Mark Van Doren, and Moses Hadas.
Attended the Museum of Modern Art film showings as often as they changed the program.
Played chess for money at the Marshal and Manhattan clubs and in Washington Square park in Greenwich Village.
In 1951 at 23 years of age, Kubrick used his savings to finance his first film, a 13 minute documentary short about boxer Walter Cartier, who had been the subject of one of his Look photo assignments. Taught to use the equipment by the man who rented it to him, Kubrick acted as producer, director, and cinematographer. Day of the Fight was bought by RKO for its This is America series and played at the Paramount Theatre in New York, netting young Kubrick a small profit.
Quit his job at Look to purse filmmaking full time.
RKO advanced him money to make a documentary short for their Pathe Screenliner series. Called Flying Padre, the 9 minute film was about Father Fred Stadtmueller, a priest who tended to duties in his 4000 square mile New Mexico parish by flying from place to place in a Piper Cub.
In 1953 was commissioned by the Atlantic and Gulf Coast District of the Seafarers International Union to direct and photograph a 30 minute industrial documentary called The Seafarers. It was Kubrick's first film in color.
In 1955 he raised $40,000 from friends and relatives and shot his second feature, Killer's Kiss.
In 1956 Kubrick hooked up with budding producer James B. Harris and went to Hollywood to make his first studio picture, The Killing, based on a novel, with a budget of $320,000, and a cast of notable Hollywood character actors.
After The Killing, Kubrick/Harris were signed by Dore Schary, the head of production at MGM, to develop properties. Kubrick and novelist Calder Willingham prepared a script based on a Stefan Zweig story called The Burning Secret. The project was never made.
Next Kubrick and Willingham along with Jim Thompson wrote an adaptation of Humphrey Cobb's novel Paths of Glory. Every studio turned the project down until Kirk Douglas agreed to star. The resulting film proved to be Kubrick's first classic, and is often regarded as one of the best films about war ever made.
Kubrick spent the next year or two in development hell, creating scripts which he couldn't get produced, including one for Kirk Douglas called I Stole 16 Million Dollars, about safecracker Herbert Emmerson Wilson, and another about Mosby's Rangers, a southern guerilla force in the American Civil war. He spent six months in preproduction with Marlon Brando for One Eyed Jacks, a film Brando eventually decided to direct himself.
In 1959, Kirk Douglas was producing Spartacus. The original director Anthony Mann was fired after only two weeks of production and Douglas offered Kubrick the job, which he accepted. The film was Kubrick's first hit and garnered some Academy Award attention.
After Lolita, James B. Harris and Kubrick ended their partnership. Harris went on to become a director and Kubrick took over producing his own films again.
A fascination with the "delicate balance of terror" of the cold war lead Kubrick to the novel Red Alert which he adapted into a nightmare comedy called Dr. Strangelove. This time Kubrick had a hit on his hands and the film received much critical acclaim including Oscar nominations for Kubrick as co-author, director, and producer.
Kubrick next planned to make a film about Napoleon, but because of the prohibitive cost he could not get the project made.
Around this time, with such a string of extraordinary films to his credit, many magazine and newspaper articles and books were written about Kubrick, some portraying him as an eccentric recluse about whose personal life little was known. Far from Hollywood, Kubrick lived in a large home in a semi-rural setting well outside of London with his third wife, Christiane Harlan, and their three daughters. Harlan, a German painter and former actress, had played the only woman in Paths of Glory. Their large home also contained his offices and post-production facilities.
After two futuristic science-fiction films Kubrick changed direction and created Barry Lyndon an 18th century story based on the 19th century novel by William Makepeace Thackery. While the 11 million dollar costume drama was not a box office success, the accolades continued to pile up. 7 Oscar nominations, more than any other Kubrick film before or since, including Kubrick's usual 3 for writing, directing and producing.
It was another 7 years before Kubrick released his next film, Full Metal Jacket. Despite arriving on the heels of the blockbuster hit Platoon, the film was a box office success and critical favorite but only one received Oscar nomination for writing.
At this time Kubrick gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine where he refuted many of the persistent rumors of his eccentric behavior.
Kubrick became involved in supervising the transfers of some of his films for the home video market and also creating a new negative of Dr. Strangelove from the highest quality prints available after it was discovered the original negative was lost.
In May of 1990 Kubrick joined with directors Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack, and George Lucas in forming the Film Foundation, an organization meant to promote the restoration and preservation of films.
Kubrick developed another science-fiction project called AI (Artificial Intelligence), but he determined that special effects technology could not handle the requirements of the story, so the project was put on hold.
In April of 1993 Variety announced Kubrick's next film would be an adaptation of Louis Begley's first novel Wartime Lies, about a Jewish boy and his aunt trying to survive in Nazi occupied Poland in WWII by passing as Aryan. Joseph Mazzello, from Jurassic Park, was set to play the boy and rumors had Kubrick looking to Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, or Jodie Foster to play the aunt. The 100 day shoot was to begin that summer for a Christmas 1994 release. Kubrick had sent location scouts to Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia and he was to base the production out of Bratislava, Slovakia.
Then in November of 1993 the L.A. Times reported that after being impressed with the special effects technology in Jurassic Park and because of the success of Schindler's List, Kubrick decided to set aside plans to direct Aryan Papers and planned to produce and direct AI with production planned the next year.
In mid-December of 1995, Warner Bros. released the news that Kubrick was still in pre-production for the very complicated AI, but would first make a film called Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The film began shooting in late 1996 and finished shooting in early 1998.
In September of 1997, Kubrick was also awarded the Golden Lion Award at the 54th Venice International Film Festival.
In the first week of March 1999, Kubrick arranged a special screening of Eyes Wide Shut for two Warner Brothers studio heads and the film's two stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. By all accounts reaction was very favorable and Kubrick was very excited about the film. One report claims he said he thought it was his best film.
On March 7th, 1999, Stanley Kubrick died in his sleep of a heart attack. He was 70 years old.
On July 16th, 1999, Eyes Wide Shut was released in the United States and was the top grossing film of that opening weekend despite the usual mixed reviews and mixed audience reaction that accompany a Kubrick film.
On July 1st of 2001, Steven Spielberg's version of A.I. also opened as the top box office draw of the week also despite the usual mixed reviews and mixed audience reaction that accompany a Kubrick film.
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