Arthur Penn

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour Archive interview, noted director Arthur Penn (1922-2010) gives a fascinating perspective on directing for television. He highlights his early jobs with many live shows including Producer's Showcase, Philco Television Playhouse and  Playhouse 90. Penn reminisces about legendary producer Fred Coe and relates how his television experience prepared him for his motion picture career, which includes the classics "Miracle Worker," "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Little Big Man." Henry Colman conducted the interview on October 21, 1998 in New York City, NY.

"None of us realized the potency yet of this medium--how many homes it was going to, what kind of affect it was having on people and so forth.. I think everybody who works in the visual medium would love to have that kind of innocence again."

Highlights
Arthur Penn on First Person, an NBC dramatic anthology summer replacement, produced by Fred Coe, leading to a job directing Philco Playhouse for Coe
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"; on the potency of television
06:00
Arthur Penn on an early job as a floor manager for the Colgate Comedy Hour starring Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Jerry Lewis; on the Colonial Theater where the show was filmed
Arthur Penn on Fred Coe's producing style; he once stopped a play mid-performance 
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood, early influences from theater and radio, 

Chapter 2

On his college years where he met John Cage, Merce Cunningham and R. Buckminster Fuller; his first job in television as a floor manager at NBC and on the Colgate Comedy Hour  starring Bob Hope, Martin & Lewis, and Eddie Cantor; on live television; his first job directing on  First Person  and then the Philco Playhouse  for producer Fred Coe

Chapter 3

On directing live television from a control room; on Philco Playhouse   actors; on the Producer's Showcase  ; on "The Battler" episode of Playwrights' 56   which James Dean was to appear on, replaced by Paul Newman

Chapter 4

On directing Playhouse 90;  on directing Paul Newman in The Left-Handed Gun; on the Kennedy-Nixon debates

Chapter 5

On directing the Broadway play "The Miracle Worker" with Anne Bancroft; on directing "Bonnie & Clyde" with Warren Beatty; on the NBC special Flesh and Blood; directing "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman; on the best television has to offer as a medium; on Fred Coe's legacy; 

Chapter 6

On actors, directors and producers he's worked with: Rod Serling, Ethel Winant, William Gibson, Marlon Brando, Fred Coe
Shows

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Arthur Penn on an early job as a floor manager for the Colgate Comedy Hour starring Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Jerry Lewis; on the Colonial Theater where the show was filmed

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

View Show Page
Arthur Penn on First Person, an NBC dramatic anthology summer replacement, produced by Fred Coe, leading to a job directing Philco Playhouse for Coe
Arthur Penn on directing Philco from the control room; the atmosphere on a live television show
Arthur Penn on "The Lawn Party" show on Philco, written by Tad Mosel; describing the talents of Mosel
Arthur Penn on the writing process on Philco and Fred Coe's involvement on the show

Playhouse 90

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Arthur Penn on directing for Playhouse 90; the potency of television at the time

Playwrights '56

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Arthur Penn on the Playwright's 56 episode "The Battler" which was to star James Dean, who was killed. Penn suggested that Paul Newman should replace him.

Producers' Showcase

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Arthur Penn on how Producer's Showcase came about
Topics

John F. Kennedy

View Topic
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"; on the potency of television
06:00

Kennedy-Nixon Debates

View Topic
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"; on the potency of television
06:00

Richard M. Nixon

View Topic
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"; on the potency of television
06:00

Technological Innovation

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Arthur Penn on the coaxial cable which connected the two coasts

We Considered

View Topic
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"; on the potency of television
06:00
People

Fred Coe

View Person Page
Arthur Penn on Fred Coe's producing style; he once stopped a play mid-performance 
Arthur Penn on the writing process on Philco and Fred Coe's involvement on the show
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"
06:00

James Dean

View Person Page
Arthur Penn on the Playwright's 56 episode "The Battler" which was to star James Dean, who was killed. Penn suggested that Paul Newman should replace him.

Tad Mosel

View Interview Page
Arthur Penn on "The Lawn Party" show on Philco, written by Tad Mosel; describing the talents of Mosel

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