John Berry (film director)

John Berry (film director)

Infobox Person
name = John Berry

caption =
birth_name = Jak Szold
birth_date = September 6, 1917
birth_place = Bronx, New York, U.S.
death_date = November 29, 1999 (aged 82)
death_place = Paris, France
death_cause = pleurisy
other_names = Jack Berry
Stuart Hofmann
occupation = film director,
film producer
spouse = Myriam Boyer
children = Dennis Berry

John Berry (September 6, 1917November 29, 1999) was an American film director, who went into self-exile in France when his career was interrupted by the Hollywood blacklist.


Berry was born Jak Szold in the Bronx, New York, the son of a Polish Jewish father and a Romanian mother.cite web|url=|title=Blacklisted film director John Berry honored|accessdate=1998-06-09|last=Walsh|first=David|publisher=World Socialist Web Site] He began his entertainment career by as a child performer in vaudeville, first going on stage at the age of four. In his teens, he briefly worked as a boxer under the name Jackie Sold.cite web|url=|title=John Berry; Blacklisted Film Director Relocated Overseas|accessdate=1999-12-01|last=Oliver|first=Myrna|publisher=Los Angeles Times] Berry's father was a restaurateur, and at one point he owned 28 restaurants around New York City. His father went out of business during the Great Depression, and Berry sought to support himself by working as a comedian and actor. His first big break came when he was hired by the Mercury Theater for a presentation of "Julius Caesar" that was produced by John Houseman and directed by Orson Welles. Berry acted in other roles with the theater and assisted Welles in directing the 1942 production of "Native Son".cite web|url=|title=John Berry, 82, Stage and Film Director Who Exiled Himself During Blacklisting of 1950's|accessdate=1999-12-01|last=Blumenthal|first=Ralph|publisher=The New York Times] In a late-life interview with the "New York Times", Berry spoke positively of his association with Welles and Houseman. "It was like living near the center of a volcano of creating inspiration and fury, glamorous and exciting, full of the kind of theatricality that seems lost forever," he said.

In 1943, Houseman was producing films in Hollywood at Paramount Pictures and he hired Berry to direct the film "Miss Susie Slagle's" starring Veronica Lake and Lillian Gish. Berry stayed in Hollywood and directed other features, most notably "From This Day Forward" starring Joan Fontaine, "Cross My Heart" with Betty Hutton, the musical "Casbah" with Tony Martin and Yvonne DeCarlo, and "He Ran All the Way" (1951) starring John Garfield and Shelley Winters.

In 1950, Berry agreed to direct a short documentary on the Hollywood 10, a group of directors and writers who refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in their pursuit of supposed Communist infiltration within the U.S. film industry. His association with the Hollywood 10 resulted in the blacklisting of Berry by the film studios. Unable to secure work, he left the U.S. and resettled with his family in Paris.

In France, Berry was hired to co-direct "Atoll K", a comedy film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. However, the blacklisted Berry did not receive screen credit; only French director Léo Joannon was credited as director. [cite web|url=|title=The Journey to "Atoll K"|accessdate=2008-08-27|last=Hall|first=Phil|publisher=Film Threat]

During the 1950s, Berry directed two films starring Eddie Constantine, "Ça va barder" (1953) and "Je suis un Sentimental" (1955), and he also directed "Tamango" (1958), a film about a slave uprising that starred Dorothy Dandridge.

Berry divided the remainder of his career between theater direction in London and film direction in Paris. He returned to the U.S. in the 1970s and directed several films, most notably "Claudine" (1974) starring Diahann Carroll in an Academy Award-nominated performance, and "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan" (1978). At the time of his death, he was editing "Boesman and Lena", a film version of the Athol Fugard play starring Danny Glover and Angela Bassett.

Berry's experiences during the Hollywood blacklist era were the inspiration of the character played by Robert De Niro in the 1991 film "Guilty by Suspicion".Berry, looking back at his career for an interview with "Newsday", remarked: "I wouldn’t give up my life for anything. I have been a curiously blessed individual despite all I’ve lived through."


External link

*imdb name|id=0077587|name=John Berry
* [ John Berry] at Allmovie
* [ John Berry] at Encyclopædia Britannica

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