Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mark Hellinger, 1903-1947

Today marks the birth anniversary of producer Mark Hellinger, who was born on this day in 1903. His is a name that would probably have faded into obscurity along with the names of most producers during the studio era. And indeed, a lot of people, even those who know many of the old directors like Htichcock and Billy Wilder, might not know the name.

I think, however, that one film ultimately made his name, and that would be his final film, The Naked City. Hellinger not only produced it, he narrated it. It's partly the way he narrated the story, partly the story itself, and definitely the large amount of location shooting in New York, that's made The Naked City a movie that's stood the test of time above a lot of other movies of the era. Hellinger, sadly, died before The Naked City was released.

That having been said, Hellinger produced several other movies that are well worth watching. Burt Lancaster shows up twice early in his career in the excellent The Killers< followed the next year by Brute Force. There's also Humphrey Bogart trying to kill his wife in The Two Mrs. Carrolls and, a bit earlier in his career at Fox, you can see Moontide.

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