The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir

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With such seminal movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection, Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin secured his place as a great filmmaker. But his own success story has the makings of classic American film. He was born in Chicago, the son of Russian immigrants. Immediately after high school, he found work in the mailroom of a local television station, and patiently worked his way into the directing booth during the heyday of live TV.

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The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir

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With such seminal movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection, Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin secured his place as a great filmmaker. But his own success story has the makings of classic American film. He was born in Chicago, the son of Russian immigrants. Immediately after high school, he found work in the mailroom of a local television station, and patiently worked his way into the directing booth during the heyday of live TV.

An award-winning documentary brought him attention as a talented new filmmaker and an advocate for justice, and it caught the eye of producer David L. Wolper, who brought Friedkin to Los Angeles. There he moved from television (one of the last episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) to film (The Birthday Party, The Boys in the Band), displaying a versatile stylistic range. Released in 1971, The French Connection won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and two years later The Exorcist received ten Oscar nominations and catapulted Friedkin's career to stardom.

Penned by the director himself, The Friedkin Connection takes readers on a journey through the numerous chance encounters and unplanned occurrences that led a young man from a poor urban neighborhood to success in one of the most competitive industries and art forms in the world. From the streets of Chicago to the executive suites of Hollywood, from a passionate new artistic life as a renowned director of operas to his most recent tour de force, Killer Joe, William Friedkin has much to say about the world of moviemaking and his place within it.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
With both arrogance and acuity, Mr. Friedkin has modeled his book on Elia Kazan: A Life, the most candid and introspective of show business memoirs. There is at least one crucial difference: while Kazan unsparingly dissected his personal life and the pain he inflicted on loved ones, Mr. Friedkin waits until Page 402 to even touch on his…But The Friedkin Connection does follow Kazan's lead in reassessing the caliber of its subject's work, acknowledging mistakes that were made. In that regard, it's a fascinating appraisal—and a reminder of how much of a maverick Mr. Friedkin…has turned out to be, willingly or otherwise.
Publishers Weekly
Ever want to know how they shot that amazing subway/car chase scene in The French Connection, or how Linda Blair won the part of Regan, the possessed young woman in The Exorcist? This memoir by the director of both films reveals all of this and much more. There's enough in those two chapters alone to keep film buffs happy for a long time, and Friedkin's account of his early days as a floor manager at a Chicago television station who rose to prominence in Hollywood in the late 1960's is worth a read, as well. Friedkin writes briskly and remains focused on his work—there's no mention of his four wives nor much else that's personal. Later chapters focus on other projects such as Cruising and then dwindle down to his account of directing the television version of Twelve Angry Men, which just can't compete with The Exorcist. But Friedkin's memory for the process of filmmaking elevates this book above the usual score-settling Hollywood memoir; film buffs will be pleased with what he offers here. (Apr.)
“Hardcore film geeks will salivate over this time capsule from a grateful and still-brilliant legend.”
“Friedkin’s book does the unthinkable: It relates the behind-the-scenes stories of his triumphs but also sees Friedkin take responsibility (brutally so) for his wrong calls. . . . He captures the gut-wrenching shifts of a filmmaker’s life.”
Wall Street Journal
“Entertaining. . . . This memoir is at its most engrossing when describing the solid, unpretentious entertainments its author once made so well.”
Associated Press Staff
“Movie fans will celebrate the natural storyteller at work in the pages of The Friedkin Connection, a welcome reminder that it takes so much more than talent to make a movie - and to keep making them.”
LA Weekly
“Friedkin’s against-all-odds success story is compelling reading from the start.”
Shelf Awareness
“Filled with insights into the art of film and its practitioners and honest assessments of his work—and the work of others in the film industry—this is terrific stuff. After reading it, you’ll be anxious to see all the Friedkin movies you’ve missed.”
Janet Maslin
“A fascinating appraisal - and a reminder of how much of a maverick Mr. Friedkin has turned out to be, willingly or otherwise.”
"The Book Reader" review NY1.COM
“Even in print, Friedkin still knows how to thrill.”
“The book is valuable for its candor on a variety of fronts. . . . Leanly satisfying.”
Kirkus Reviews
The Oscar-winning director of The French Connection and The Exorcist looks back at his life and work. Friedkin writes that his career began accidentally, interviewing for the wrong job but landing a spot in the mail room at WGN in Chicago ("By the way, kid, are you stupid?" his interviewer asked), and from there working his way from one job to the other, learning the crafts necessary to make a show--and then a film--through trial and error: "Will the floor manager please keep away from the camera?" he was once asked. Lessons learned, he moved west to Los Angeles, where he fell into friendly competition with his contemporaries, foremost among them Francis Ford Coppola, and steadily built a résumé as a reliable filmmaker able to coax the best performances out of actors. There's plenty of inside baseball here, but Friedkin is more interested in discussing the technical details of his films; we learn, for instance, that "there was not a lot of dialogue looping" in The French Connection, for all the noise on the New York streets, and that Max von Sydow was so tall that he "had to develop a slouch and arthritic movement" for the character he played in The Exorcist. A surprise, given Hollywood's secular nature, may be the revelation of the depth of Friedkin's religious faith--even though William Peter Blatty, who wrote the story of that spooky flick, accused him of "having undercut the film's moral center." For aspiring directors, a glimpse into the school of hard knocks, but there's plenty of good stuff, lean and well-written, for civilian film fans, too.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480539426
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 10/28/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

William Friedkin lives in Los Angeles, California.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    absorbing movie making memoir. An honest recollection of a direc

    absorbing movie making memoir. An honest recollection of a director's experiences-warts and all. This is not gossip tabloid fodder- but Friedkin's life as a director-hindsight. A certain element of vulnerability exhudes through- despite the arrogance that comes across at the height of his fame. Never maudlin nor self pitying. Friedkin's directing style does fit more in line with European cinema- where a hero does not have to exist within a film.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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