Carl Foreman - Writer

Writer and Producer. Nationality: American. Born: Chicago, Illinois, 13 July 1914. Education: Attended Crane College; University of Illinois, Urbana, 1932–33; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1935–36; John Marshall Law School, 1936–37. Military Service: 1942–45—worked in Frank Capra's Army Documentary Unit. Family: Married 1) Estelle Barr; one daughter; 2) Evelyn Smith; one son and one daughter. Career: 1937–38—worked as newspaper reporter, and public relations manager for stage personalities;1938–42—worked in Hollywood as reader and story analyst, gag writer for Bob Hope and Cantor radio programs: jobs with MGM and Columbia; studied screenwriting at the League of American Writers School under Robert Rossen and Dore Schary; 1941—first film as writer, Spooks Run Wild ; 1946—formed Screen Plays Inc. with Stanley Kramer and George Glass; 1952—investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and blacklisted; moved to Great Britain; used pseudonym for next writing job; 1958—first film as producer, The Key ; 1963–64—conducted screenwriting class in Israel; 1975—returned to the United States; 1977—formed High Noon

Carl Foreman (right) on the set of The Victors
Carl Foreman (right) on the set of The Victors
production company: contract with Universal as producer-writer; 1980—contract with Warner Bros.. Awards: Writers Guild Robert Meltzer Award for The Men , 1950; High Noon , 1952; Academy Award for The Bridge on the River Kwai (awarded to Pierre Boulle because of the blacklisting), 1957; Writers Guild Laurel Award, 1968, and Valentine Davies Award, 1976; Honorary Companion, Order of the British Empire, 1970. Member: 1965–71—Board of Governors, British Film Institute; 1975–83—Advisory Board, American Film Institute. Died: Of cancer in Beverly Hills, California, 26 June 1984.

Films as Writer:


Spooks Run Wild (Rosen)


Rhythm Parade (Bretherton and Gould)


Dakota (Kane) (story)


So This Is New York (Fleischer); Let's Go to the Movies (Gladden) (co-story)


Champion (Robson); Home of the Brave (Robson); The Clay Pigeon (Fleischer)


The Men (Zinnemann); Young Man with a Horn ( Young Man of Music ) (Curtiz); Cyrano de Bergerac (Gordon)


High Noon (Zinnemann)


The Sleeping Tiger (Losey) (co-sc as Derek Frey)


The Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean) (co-sc, uncredited)

Films as Writer and Producer:


The Key (Reed)


The Guns of Navarone (Thompson)


The Victors (+ d)


Mackenna's Gold (Thompson) (co-pr)


Young Winston (Attenborough)


Force 10 from Navarone (Hamilton) (story)


When Time Ran Out ( Earth's Final Fury ) (Goldstone)

Films as Producer/Executive Producer:


The Mouse That Roared (Arnold)


Born Free (Hill)


Otley (Clement)


The Virgin Soldiers (Dexter)


Living Free (Couffer)


The Golden Gate Murders (Grauman)


By FOREMAN: books—

A Cast of Lions , London, 1966.

High Noon (screenplay), in Film Scripts One , edited by George P. Garrett, O. B. Harrison, Jr., and Jane Gelfmann, New York, 1971.

Young Winston (script), New York, 1972.

By FOREMAN: articles—

Interview with Penelope Houston and Kenneth Cavander, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1958.

Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1961.

Journal of the Producers of America , December 1968.

Interview with Bernard Tavernier, in Positif (Paris), February 1969.

Films and Filming (London), November 1969.

Film Comment (New York), Winter 1970–71.

Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 7, 1972.

Film Making , March 1972.

Films and Filming (London), August 1972.

Take One (Montreal), May 1973.

American Film (Washington, D.C.), April 1979.

On FOREMAN: articles—

Films and Filming (London), June 1957.

Films and Filming (London), September 1963.

Show (New York), December 1972.

In American Screenwriters , edited by Robert E. Morsberger, Stephen O. Lesser, and Randall Clark, Detroit, Michigan, 1984.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 4 July 1984.

Obituary in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), no. 398, October 1984.

The Annual Obituary 1984 , Chicago, 1985.

Hodson, Joel, "Who Wrote Lawrence of Arabia ?: Sam Spiegel and David Lean's Denial of Credit to a Blacklisted Screenwriter," in Cineaste (New York), October 1994.

Foreman, Jonathan, "Witch-Hunt: Carl Foreman's Experience of McCarthyism and the Hollywood Blacklist," in Index on Censorship , November-December 1995.

Robb, David, "Naming the Right Names: Amending the Hollywood Blacklist," in Cineaste (New York), Spring 1996.

Foreman, Amanda, and Jonathan Foreman, "Our Dad Was No Commie," in New Statesman , 26 March 1999.

* * *

In 1982, talking about his planned writing and direction of Philip Hallie's Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed , Carl Foreman said that the book excited him because it is "about conquering fear and doing what you have to do." Twenty years earlier, Foreman had been drawn into the challenge of making a film about the early life of Winston Churchill because "the central theme of alienation was . . . one that men and women everywhere would recognize and respond to."

These themes—the struggle with fear within, maintaining self-respect in the context of the external world, and acknowledging the continuing alienation of the individual—recur in all of the films Foreman wrote and produced after 1949. During the making of High Noon , his personal experience and that of the screen character played by Gary Cooper intersected: Foreman, by refusing to "name names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and Cooper's lawman, by refusing to flee when pursued by a trio of killers—both against the background of apathetic society—similarly found exile. Foreman's exile began in 1952 when he was blacklisted and denied the producer's credit on High Noon . By 1958, working with Columbia Pictures in Great Britain, his name could again appear in the credits of the films he wrote. But the shadow of the blacklist remained, and Foreman made most of his subsequent films in Europe. It was not until the day before he died that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially acknowledged that Foreman (and Michael Wilson) were the Oscar-winning screenwriters for The Bridge on the River Kwai .

Born in Illinois to Russian immigrants, Foreman attended Northwestern University and the John Marshall Law School, but left to become a newspaper reporter, public relations man for theater actors, radio writer for Bob Hope and Eddie Cantor, and eventually a writer for marginal films in Hollywood. During the Second World War he was part of Frank Capra's film unit and worked on Know Your Enemy: Japan with Joris Ivens. This experience, he said, transformed him. After the war ended Foreman, Stanley Kramer, and George Glass created an independent production company, Screen Plays, Inc., which released impressive low-budget films between 1948 and 1952 (when the company was purchased by Columbia). Foreman wrote Home of the Brave , The Men , Champion , and High Noon , for example. With the last film he became a producer so he could protect his creative contributions as a writer. As a writer-producer, he became the principal author of his films while working with experienced filmmakers like Carol Reed, J. Lee Thompson, and Richard Attenborough. Only with The Victors in 1963 did he actually direct, as well as write and produce. Acting as a producer only, he had at least two major successes, The Mouse That Roared in 1959 and Born Free in 1966.

As a writer Foreman took risks, from the flashbacks of Home of the Brave , to the "real time" of High Noon , to the "interview-camera" of Young Winston . Despair surfaced in The Key , one of his most affecting films (with major performances by Sophia Loren, William Holden, and Trevor Howard), but the impression most often left by his movies is that courage and conviction do make a difference, and that the nobility of the human spirit can endure.

—Robert A. Haller

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