Joseph McBride (writer)

Joseph McBride (born August 9, 1947) is an American film historian, biographer, screenwriter, author and educator. He has written numerous books including biographies of notable film directors, a book on screenwriting, an investigative journalism book on the JFK assassination, and a memoir of the dark years in his life.

Joseph Pierce McBride
Born (1947-08-09) August 9, 1947
ResidenceBerkeley, California
EducationMarquette University High School, University of Wisconsin
OccupationHistorian, biographer, screenwriter, author, educator
EmployerSan Francisco State University
Home townWauwatosa, Wisconsin
Partner(s)Ann Weiser Cornell
AwardsWriters Guild of America Award

He also serves as professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University.[1]


Early life and career

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, McBride grew up in the suburb of Wauwatosa. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and worked as a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, before moving to California in 1973.


McBride has published more than 20 books since 1968, including biographies of film directors Steven Spielberg (Steven Spielberg: A Biography, 1997, and published in translation in mainland China in 2012), Frank Capra (Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, 1992), Orson Welles (Orson Welles (1972), Orson Welles: Actor and Director (1977) and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006)), and John Ford (John Ford (with Michael Wilmington, 1974) and Searching for John Ford (2001)). McBride's interview book with director Howard Hawks, Hawks on Hawks, was published in 1982.

In 2012, he published a screenwriting manual, Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless.[2] In the book, McBride uses his adaptation of Jack London’s short story "To Build a Fire" to break down the steps necessary for a screenplay, such as research, treatments, and outlines. The book draws from his extensive teaching experience.[3]

In 2013, he published Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit, which was the result of McBride's 31-year investigation of the case. Later, in 2015, he published The Broken Places: A Memoir, which deals with his troubled childhood, his teenage breakdown, and his subsequent recovery.

Columbia University Press published How Did Lubitsch Do It?, McBride's look at the career of filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, in June 2018. [4]

In March 2019, Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra was published by McBride. It recounts his legal battle with original publisher Knopf/Random House and Capra allies over publication of the biography Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 1992. [5]

Film and television

McBride's screenwriting credits include the movies Rock 'n' Roll High School and Blood and Guts and five American Film Institute Life Achievement Award specials on CBS-TV dealing with Fred Astaire, Frank Capra, Lillian Gish, John Huston, and James Stewart. He was also cowriter of the United States Information Agency worldwide live TV special Let Poland Be Poland (1982).

He plays a film critic, Mr. Pister, in the Orson Welles feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970–76) and served as a consultant on its completion in 2018.[6] He is also the coproducer of the documentaries Obsessed with "Vertigo": New Life for Hitchcock's Masterpiece (1997) and John Ford Goes to War (2002).

Awards and honors

McBride received the "Television: Comedy/Variety - Special" Writers Guild of America Award in 1984 for cowriting The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston with producer George Stevens, Jr.[7] He has also received four other WGA nominations,[7] two Emmy nominations,[8] and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. The French edition of Searching for John Ford, titled A la recherche de John Ford, published in 2007, was chosen the Best Foreign Film Book of the Year by the French film critics' association, le Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma.

A documentary feature on his life and work, Behind the Curtain: Joseph McBride on Writing Film History, written and directed by Hart Perez, had its world debut in 2011 at the Tiburon International Film Festival in Tiburon, Marin County, CA, and was released on DVD in 2012.

Personal life

McBride lives in Berkeley, California. His life partner is author and psychology educator Ann Weiser Cornell.[9]


  1. "Joseph McBride". Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  2. Honeycutt, Kirk (September 28, 2012). "McBride's guide to 'Painless'screenwriting". Honeycutt's Hollywood. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  3. "Joseph McBride's Necessary Screenwriting Book". Sep 14, 2012. Retrieved Mar 2, 2019.
  4. Yogerst, Chris (July 5, 2018). "Forgotten filmmaker who influenced Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder gets his due". The Washington Post.
  5. McBride, Joseph (2019). Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra. Berkeley, California: Hightower Press. ISBN 978-1949950472.
  6. "Sight & Sound: the November 2018 issue | Sight & Sound". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  7. "Joseph McBride: Awards". Writers Guild Foundation. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  8. "Joseph McBride: Awards & Nominations". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  9. McBride, Joseph. Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless. Random House, 2012. pp. 352–353.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.