After attending Yale University, Endfield began his career as a theatre director and drama coach, becoming an important figure in New York's progressive theatre scene. Despite this shared background, it was largely Endfield's skill as a card magician which brought him to the attention of Orson Welles, who recruited him as an apprentice for Mercury Productions (at that time based at RKO Pictures). Following the The Magnificent Ambersons debacle (which ended with the expulsion of the Mercury team from the RKO lot) Endfield signed on as a contract director at MGM, directing a wide variety of shorts (including the last films in the long-running Our Gang series), before moving on to freelance on low-budget productions for Monogram and independents.
It was with the 1950 noir The Underworld Story, an independent production released through United Artists, that Enfield first came to critical and studio attention. The film was a major leap from anything he had produced before in terms of budget and social commentary, a coruscating attack on press corruption which could equally be taken as an wider attack on the McCarthyite ideology of the times. He followed this with the film often cited as his masterpiece, The Sound Of Fury (aka Try And Get Me), a lynching thriller based on a true story. It was with these two films that Endfield's signature approach to character developed, pessimistic without being uncompassionate.
In 1951 Endfield was named as a Communist at a HUAC hearing. Unable to get work in Hollywood, he moved to Britain, slowly building up his profile from pseudonymous low-budget B-movies, often starring fellow blacklistees, to his most famous work, Zulu (1964). Even such a success as this couldn't stablise his career, however, and after a few more independent productions he withdraw from film direction in 1971.
Cy Endfield Facts
|Birth Name||Cyril Raker Endfield|
|Birthday||November 10, 1914|
|Birthplace||Scanton, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Date of death||April 16, 1995 (age 80)|
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