Joseph McBride is a film historian, biographer, screenwriter, and professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. McBride has published nineteen books since 1968, including acclaimed biographies of Frank Capra, John Ford, and Steven Spielberg. His most recent work is The Broken Places: A Memoir (2015), which deals with his childhood abuse in Catholic schools and an alcoholic family, his breakdown as a teenager, and his triumphant recovery; the book tells the story of his relationship with a troubled young Native American woman who helped teach him to live but could not survive herself. See recent San Francisco Examiner review.
McBride published Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit in 2013; both epic and intimately personal, that book is the result of McBride’s thirty-one-year investigation of the case. It contains many fresh revelations from McBride’s rare interviews with people in Dallas, archival discoveries, and what novelist Thomas Flanagan, in The New York Review of Books, called McBride’s “wide knowledge of American social history.”
McBride’s Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless (2012) draws from his long experience as a screenwriter and as a teacher of screenwriting. Also in 2012, McBride published an updated third edition of his 1997 book Steven Spielberg: A Biography. The American second edition of the Spielberg book was published in 2011 by the University Press of Mississippi, which also reprinted his biographies Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success (1992; 2000) and Searching for John Ford (2001). McBride’s other books include: Orson Welles (1972; 1996), Hawks on Hawks (1982), The Book of Movie Lists: An Offbeat, Provocative Collection of the Best and Worst of Everything in Movies (1999), and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006). He wrote the 1974 critical study John Ford with Michael Wilmington.
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 also was cowriter of the United States Information Agency worldwide live TV special Let Poland Be Poland (1982). McBride plays a film critic, Mister Pister, in the legendary unfinished Orson Welles feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970-76). McBride is also the coproducer of the documentaries Obsessed with “Vertigo”: New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece (1997) and John Ford Goes to War (2002).
McBride received the Writers Guild of America Award for cowriting The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston (1983). He has also received four other WGA nominations two Emmy nominations, and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. The French edition of Searching for John Ford, 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.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, McBride grew up in the suburb of Wauwatosa. He attended Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, where he received a National Merit Scholarship, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and worked as a reporter for The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison before departing for California in 1973. A documentary feature on McBride’s 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.
JOHN FORD’S IRISH TRAGICOMEDY, October 7th at 8pm more
THE BROKEN PLACES: A MEMOIR, Reading & Signing, Saturday, October 8th at 3pm more
BREAKING INTO SCREENWRITING, Sunday, October 9th at 1.45pm more