Biography of Arthur Penn

Arthur Penn was an American film director who came to prominence in the 1960s. His best known films include The Chase, Bonnie and Clyde, and Alice's Restaurant. In 1960, he won the Academy Award for Best Director for his direction of the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker.

Born in Philadelphia, the younger brother of the fashion photographer Irving Penn, Arthur Penn took an early interest in film, particularly Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. His first film was a western called The Left Handed Gun, starring Paul Newman. After that, he directed the film version of the play that had won him a Tony, The Miracle Worker, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. His next films were The Chase, Bonnie and Clyde, Alice's Restaurant, an adaptation of a satirical song by Arlo Guthrie, Little Big Man, Night Moves, The Missouri Breaks, and Dead of Winter.

Of all his work, for theater, television, and film, Bonnie and Clyde is widely regarded as his masterpiece, credited with pushing forward the treatment of the subject of sex and violence in film. His obituary in The New York Times states, "Mr. Penn was perceived as a major film artist on the European model, opening the way for a group of star directors—including Robert Altman, Terrence Malick, Bob Rafelson and Hal Ashby—who were able to work with comparative artistic freedom through the next decade."

Study Guides on Works by Arthur Penn

Bonnie and Clyde is an American film directed by Arthur Penn, released in 1967, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. The plot follows the criminal collaboration and love affair between Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the 1920s in Texas. The...