The Life and Work of William Friedkin, From His Rise to His Fall and His Theatrical Passion

The Life and Work of William Friedkin, From His Rise to His Fall and His Theatrical Passion

William Friedkin is a renowned director whose career spans more than 50 years and includes influential films such as "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist." But his career is characterized by both artistic successes and controversial failures. Who is William Friedkin as an artist? To answer this question, we'll explore the themes and trajectories that define his work and analyze notable films such as "Good Times," "The French Connection," "The Exorcist," "Sorcerer," "To Live and Die in L.A," and "C.A.T. Squad." We'll also discuss Friedkin's theatrical passion and how it influenced his cinematic vision.

Let's start with the introduction to Friedkin's first narrative feature, "Good Times."

It hits you with comedy, fakery, and artifice right away. This is William Friedkin, the director of "The French Connection," "The Exorcist," and "To Live and Die in L.A." introducing himself to the world, and I was thrown a curve ball. I struggled to understand who he was after watching this first film, which introduced me to his famous films, and introduced me to a new question: who is William Friedkin?

The Rise of a Director

Friedkin started his career at WGN-TV in Chicago, where he quickly rose to directing live television and documentaries. He then moved to Hollywood, where he directed his first feature film, "Good Times," starring Sonny and Cher. The film is not one of his most notable, but it sparked his career and led him to make another influential film, "The French Connection."

But "The French Connection" is just the beginning. Friedkin jumped on the opportunity to adapt Harold Pinter's play "The Birthday Party" for the big screen, a project he was passionate about. Unfortunately, the film was delayed due to editing issues with his previous film, "The Night They Raided Minsky's."

Friedkin's career is a mixture of projects he's passionate about and jobs he takes just to work. This pattern is not unusual for a film director, but it feels like Friedkin's output makes it difficult to distinguish where one begins and the other ends.

As time went on, Friedkin's career was marked by a search for work and a decreasing amount of control over his projects. This led to a reputation as a has-been, even though he continued to create art.

One of the most interesting contrasts in Friedkin's career is "To Live and Die in L.A." and "C.A.T. Squad." Both films feature government agents who play by their own rules, but their outlooks are vastly different. One is a tragedy, while the other is a more straightforward adventure.

"To Live and Die in L.A." feels like a turning point in his career. It's the last time he could pull together a big production on his own terms. Afterward, he went from creating smaller films that he could manage to pull together to working as a hired hand on productions that needed his name.

Friedkin's tail-end career focus was on adapting plays by Tracy Letts, including "Bug" and "Killer Joe." These films were made on smaller scales, but they allowed Friedkin to explore themes he's passionate about.

Overall, who is William Friedkin as an artist? He is a director who is passionate about theater and actors and has a keen eye for storytelling. He is a director who is not afraid to take risks and embrace his own vision, even if it leads to controversy.

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