Don Siegel

“Don Siegel is best known as an exceptional and stylish director of thrillers, who has also handled a wide range of other subjects, including Westerns and sci fi, during the course of his long career.” - Joel W. Finler (The Movie Directors Story, 1985)

Don Siegel

Director / Producer
(1912-1991) Born October 26, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Crime, Action Thriller, Action, Western, Drama, Police Detective Film, Crime Thriller, Chase Movie, Thriller, Adventure Drama, Prison Film, Adventure
Key Collaborators: Clint Eastwood (Leading Actor), Lalo Schifrin (Composer), Bruce Surtees (Cinematographer), Sheree North (Character Actress), Harry Guardino (Leading Actor), Dean Riesner (Screenwriter), Howard Rodman (Screenwriter), Hal Mohr (Cinematographer), Alexander Golitzen (Production Designer), Jack Elam (Character Actor), Leo Gordon (Character Actor), Emile Meyer (Character Actor)

"Don Siegel’s virtues—tightly constructed narratives and explosive action sequences—have been apparent from the very beginning. Even his B pictures have an enviable ability to pin audiences to their seats through the sheer force and pace of the events they portray... More than any other action director of his generation Siegel has avoided the genre’s potential for reductive simplification. He has combined entertainment with perception, skilled filmmaking economy with nicely delineated characters, and overall moral detachment with sympathy for his hard-pressed protagonists. His movie world may often seem uncongenial, but its creator has never appeared callous or unconcerned. His films have achieved much-deserved commercial success; his skill and subtlety have deserved rather more in the way of critical attention." - Andrew Tudor (International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers, 2000)
"His classically composed and edited images were as clean, uncluttered and direct as his storylines; his disenchanted but professional (anti-)heroes tended to express frustration through violent action rather than words; the world they fought against was depicted with broad, vivid strokes." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"In the late 50s Siegel was discovered by the young critics (and future directors) of the Cahiers du Cinema - among them Godard, Truffaut, and Rohmer - who crowned him a gifted auteur with a consistent style and point of view, much to his own surprise. In the last 60s, following a mixed bag of less-than-memorable productions, the director began a fruitful collaboration with actor Clint Eastwood that resulted in 1971 in Dirty Harry." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Siegel's style does not encompass the demonic distortions of Fuller's, Aldrich's, Losey's, and, to a lesser extent, Karlson's. Siegel declines to implicate the world at large in the anarchic causes of his heroes. Nor does he adjust his compositions to their psychological quirks. The moral architecture of his universe is never undermined by the editing, however frenzied. Nevertheless, the final car chase in The Lineup and the final shoot-up in Madigan are among the most stunning displays of action montage in the history of the American cinema." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"One of the best action directors working today. Siegel imbues his films with well-motivated violence, brevity, psychological tension, and humor." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“Siegel was a Hollywood journeyman, whose B-movies made no impact until Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), a call for more humane prison conditions. It caught the eye of French critics François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, soon to become film-makers themselves.“ - The Movie Book, 1999
"I think in America I'm looked upon as the equivalent of a European director -- which is quite laughable. I've never had a personal publicity man working for me. So all this came out of the blue -- all this publicity. The cult was not engineered. It festered, in a sense. And erupted. And it did me a lot of good." - Don Siegel
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Recommended
The Big Steal (1949) ✖︎, Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), The Lineup (1958) ✖︎, Hell is for Heroes (1962), The Killers (1964) ✖︎, Dirty Harry (1971) ✖︎, The Beguiled (1971), Charley Varrick (1973), The Shootist (1976), Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Worth a Look
The Verdict (1946) ✖︎, The Duel at Silver Creek (1952), Private Hell 36 (1954) ✖︎, Crime in the Streets (1956), Baby Face Nelson (1957) ✖︎, The Gun Runners (1958), Edge of Eternity (1959), Coogan's Bluff (1968), Madigan (1968)
Approach with Caution
Hitler Lives (1945), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Not Recommended
Telefon (1977)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Killers
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