Anthony Mann (1906-1967)

Anthony Mann
Anthony Mann

Anthony Mann was an American actor and film director who became well known as a director of Westerns, and who is also greatly admired as a director of 1940's film noir and of 1960's historical epics such as 'El Cid'. His movies are known for their scenes of violence and for the tenacity and relentlessness of his heroes in pursuing justice, even breaking the law if necessary. He used rugged landscapes to add dramatic effect and also structured his narratives as journeys, in which each stage is marked by new surroundings.

Search Amazon for Anthony Mann


Anthony Mann was born Emil Anton Bundmann in Port Loma, San Diego, California on June 30, 1906, the son of an Austrian immigrant, Emile Bundmann. When he was ten his family relocated to New York City, where he attended Central High School. One of his classmates was future RKO Pictures production chief, and future head of MGM, Dore Schary.

Mann loved the theater and his childhood ambition was to become a stage actor. He left school at eighteen in 1923 and the following year he joined the Neighborhood Playhouse Acting Company in Manhattan's Lower East Side. He spent the next few years as an actor, including a year in the New York Repertory Company, making appearances on and off Broadway.

During this time he also gained invaluable experience in all aspects of the theater including stints as stage manager, production manager and set designer but by the early 1930's he had decided that directing was his forte. His first theatrical direction was in 1933 and he continued to direct stage plays through the decade for the Theater Guild on Broadway and the Federal Theater in Harlem, building a solid reputation.


His success inevitably attracted the attention of Hollywood and in 1938 he was taken on by producer David O. Selznick as casting director and talent scout. He worked for Selznick as screen test director on 'Gone With the Wind' and 'Intermezzo' in 1939 and 'Rebecca' in 1940.

Now established in Hollywood and with a movie career in prospect, Mann shortened his name from Bundmann and began working at Paramount Pictures, first as an assistant director to Preston Sturges on Sullivan's Travels in 1941 and then director. His debut picture as director was the inauspicious Dr. Broadway' in 1942 but thereafter his output improved and he worked for a number of different studios including RKO, Republic and MGM, directing low budget melodramas and musicals. Typical of his output during this period are 'Strangers in the Night', a film noir from 1944 and 'Sing Your Way Home', a true 'B' musical from 1945.

Mann began to have real success with a succession of superb films noirs beginning with the tense 'Desperate' in 1947, and in the same year began a propitious collaboration with cinematographer John Alton. Over the next few years Mann earned a reputation as a maker of fast-moving, tightly constructed films noirs such as 'T-Men' in 1947, 'Raw Deal' the following year and 'Reign of Terror' and 'Border Incident' in 1949. Mann was becoming well known in Hollywood but his best work was yet to come.


Mann's first Western was 'Devil's Doorway' in 1950, starring Robert Taylor, a tragedy with noirish undertones about racism and bigotry. After seeing the film, James Stewart asked Mann to direct 'Winchester '73' later that year, the film which is credited with reviving the serious western. It was the start of a seven film collaboration between Mann and Stewart and Mann was able to find a deeper and darker James Stewart than the prewar 'Wonderful Life' actor. In 'Winchester '73' for instance the James Stewart character spends the entire movie on a single-minded journey to track down his brother who shot their father in the back. The film illustrates a recurrent theme in Mann's Westerns, obsessive revenge.

The partnership with Stewart continued with more tough Westerns including 'Bend of the River' in 1952, the superb 'The Naked Spur' in 1953 and 'The Man from Laramie' in 1955, all beautifully photographed amidst spectacular, hostile landscapes. Mann's last Western (without Stewart) was the masterful 'Man of the West' in 1958, starring Gary Cooper.

Amidst these classy Westerns, in 1954, in complete contrast Mann and Stewart made 'The Glenn Miller Story', a highly popular film of the life of band leader Glenn Miller.

Later Career

After that triumph, Mann became less prolific. In 1959, after clashing with star and producer Kirk Douglas, Mann asked to be removed from 'Spartacus'. He began the Western 'Cimarron' in 1960, but again left because of creative differences with the producer, although his name was retained as director. His final triumph was 'El Cid' in 1961, a grand epic about Spain's famous cultural hero. His next film was also an epic, 'The Fall of the Roman Empire' in 1964. Mann's last completed film was the World War II thriller, 'The Heroes of Telemark' in 1965.


Mann married twice, firstly to Mildred from 1936 to 1957, the marriage producing one daughter, Nina who became an actress, and then to Sara Montiel from 1957 to 1963. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Anthony Mann died in Berlin, Germany on April 29, 1967 from a heart attack while filming the spy thriller 'A Dandy in Aspic'. The film was completed by the film's star, Laurence Harvey.

Anthony Mann Academy Awards

No Nominations:

Anthony Mann Filmography

The Streets of New York (TV movie)
Moonlight in Havana
Dr. Broadway
Nobody's Darling
My Best Gal
Strangers in the Night
The Great Flamarion
Two O'Clock Courage
Sing Your Way Home
Strange Impersonation
The Bamboo Blonde
Raw Deal
He Walked by Night (uncredited)
The Black Book
Border Incident
Side Street
Winchester '73
The Furies
Devil's Doorway
The Tall Target
Quo Vadis (uncredited)
Where the River Bends
The Naked Spur
Thunder Bay
The Glenn Miller Story
The Far Country