Phil Karlson

Phil Karlson


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Phil Karlson (July 2, 1908, Chicago, Illinois – December 12, 1985, Los Angeles, California) was a film director known for his no-nonsense film noirs. Karlson directed 99 River Street, Kansas City Confidential and Hell's Island all with actor John Payne in the early 1950s. Other films include Rocky (1948), The Phenix City Story (1955), 5 Against the House (1955) and The Young Doctors (1961).

Phil Karlson was the son of popular Irish actress Lillian O'Brien.

He studied painting at Chicago's Art Institute, and law, at his father's request, at Loyola Marymount University in California.

Karlson got into the film industry working as a prop man while a law student. After working a number of film jobs, including being an assistant director for a number of Abbott and Costello films, Karlson directed his first film in 1944 and in 1948 directed the first film starring Marilyn Monroe, Ladies of the Chorus. He worked on a number of low-budget projects for Monogram Pictures and Eagle-Lion Films before making his mark in 1950. It was then that he was known for directing tough, realistic and sometimes violent gritty crime films. In the 1960s the quality of his directed films declined, which included working on Kid Galahad (1962) with Elvis Presley and two Dean Martin Matt Helm spy films, including The Wrecking Crew (1969) co-starring Sharon Tate and Elke Sommer. He had his biggest success in 1973 when he directed the hit film, Walking Tall. The film made the director a rich man many times over, thanks to the fact that he owned a huge part of the movie.

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