ST. GEORGE – Acclaimed film director Andrew V. McLaglen is the subject of a new book by Stephen B. Armstrong, an associate professor of English at Dixie State College of Utah. Titled “Andrew V. McLaglen: The Life and Hollywood Career” (McFarland & Co., 2011), the book is the first of its sort, providing readers with a comprehensive survey of McLaglen’s experiences in the movies, television and the theatre.
Born in 1920, McLaglen immigrated to the United States as a young boy after his father, the British actor Victor McLaglen, relocated from London to Hollywood. From an early age, McLaglen expressed an interest in directing motion pictures. In 1945, he landed a job as a production clerk at Republic Pictures. Over the next ten years, he found work as an assistant director, a unit production manager and a producer. Among the movies he worked on during this period were several classics: “The Quiet Man,” “Hondo” and “The High and The Mighty.”
In the mid-50s, McLaglen began to direct movies himself. One of his earliest pictures was a Western called “Gun the Man Down,” which featured James Arness in the lead. Arness was starring at the time as Marshal Matt Dillon on the “Gunsmoke” TV series. Upon Arness’s recommendation, McLaglen was invited by CBS Television to direct for “Gunsmoke.” He would subsequently helm more than 250 television programs, working on not only “Gunsmoke,” but also “Have Gun, Will Travel,” “Perry Mason,” “Banacek” and “The Wonderful World of Disney.”
By the mid-60s, McLaglen had come to be recognized as one of the most talented directors working in television. His success led to numerous offers to direct feature films. A favorite of both John Wayne and James Stewart, he had hits with the pictures “McLintock!” and “Shenandoah.” Later he worked with stars like Doris Day, William Holden, Richard Burton and Roger Moore.
McLaglen retired from filmmaking in 1989 with more than 30 credited feature films.
An associate professor of English at DSC, Armstrong grew up in Annapolis, Md. He earned his doctorate of philosophy in English (Creative Writing) from Florida State University in 2004. His articles and reviews about the cinema have appeared in numerous publications, including “Film Score Monthly,” “Classic Images” and “Film Quarterly.” His first book,” Pictures About Extremes: The Films of John Frankenheimer,” was published by McFarland & Co. in 2008.
Armstrong is also the director of “Return to Little Hollywood,” a documentary about the history of motion picture production in Southern Utah. He spent nearly three years writing “Andrew V. McLaglen: The Life and the Hollywood Career.”
“I’ve always liked McLaglen’s movies,” Armstrong said. “When I was a boy, I remember being deeply moved by “Shenandoah,” a Civil War movie. And as a lifelong fan of Westerns, I’ve always thought that pictures like “The Undefeated” and “Chisum” were great. “I started thinking about writing a book about McLaglen after I saw a picture he made in Texas and Utah called “Bandolero!” Dean Martin and James Stewart play the leads in that wonderful movie, which is thrilling, funny and very sad all at the same time. Anyway, as I watched more and more of Mr. McLaglen’s movies, as well as his television work, I realized that he is one of Hollywood’s most under-sung directors. And so, to remedy that, I wrote this book.”
The book can be purchased directly from the book’s publisher, McFarland & Co., as well online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.