His latest feature film will be in the running at the next Venice Film Festival.
He was one of the most influential filmmakers of his time: William Friedkin is dead. Oscar for Best Director for French Connection and revolutionary in horror cinema with The Exorcisthe died at the age of 87, this Monday evening, in Los Angeles.
The dean of Chapman University, Stephen Galloway, friend with his last wife, Sherry Lansing, confirmed the news.
Alongside Francis Ford Coppola or Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin marked the cinema of the 1970s, being part of a new generation of dynamic and risk-taking filmmakers. Having worked in television and documentaries, he had kept this realistic style and avant-garde editing within him, bringing new energy to genre cinema, particularly in horror and thriller.
William Friedkin began his career with documentaries The People vs. Paul Crumpabout a death row inmate awaiting execution, then turns into fiction with the television series Alfred Hitchcock presents.
He met his first success with French Connection, his fourth feature film, a nervous thriller, fast and morally ambiguous, and in which we find one of the most famous car chase sequences in cinema. A reference of the genre, crowned by the Oscar for Best Film in 1971.
In the aftermath, William Friedkin also revolutionizes horror cinema with The Exorcistin 1973. A music, a style, cult dialogues… And a box with 500 million dollars in revenue.
Without ever returning to such success, the directors pursued a rich career marked by military thrillers. The Hell of Duty in 2000 (with Samuel L. Jackson) or by Killer Joescreen adaptation of the eponymous play by Tracy Letts, with Matthew McConaughey (in 2016).
William Friedkin was set to make its return to theaters this year, with The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (2023), adaptation of the novel Hurricane on the Caine by Herman Wouk. The film will be in the running posthumously during the next Venice Film Festival.