Christian Nyby (September 1, 1913 – September 17, 1993) was an American television and film director and editor. As an editor, he had seventeen feature film credits from 1943 – 1952, including The Big Sleep (1946) and Red River (1948). From 1953–1975 he was a prolific director of episodes in many television series, including Gunsmoke and Wagon Train. As a feature film director, he is likely best known for The Thing from Another World (1951).
Born in Los Angeles, California, he started his career as a film editor in the 1940s. He edited four films directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948), and The Big Sky (1952)). Nyby was nominated for the Academy Award for Red River. He had began his career in the carpentry division at the studios, worked his way up to editor, then received his first directing credit on Hawks' 1951 production of The Thing from Another World (or The Thing as it is more commonly known), which was an instant success.
Nyby went on to have a prolific television and movie directing career from the 1950s to the 1970s. Dick Vosburgh wrote in his obituary that "After editing Hawks's next film The Big Sky (1952), Nyby turned to television, directing Ann Sothern's sitcom Private Secretary, which ran for four years. He also directed episodes of The Twilight Zone, I Spy, Lassie, Adam 12, Perry Mason, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, Ironside, and Kojak. He did especially impressive work on such western series as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wagon Train and Rawhide." He also directed four more feature films Hell on Devil's Island, Young Fury, Operation C.I.A. (the first lead role for Burt Reynolds), and First to Fight.
The most influential film that Nyby directed is The Thing from Another World (1951), which continues to attract viewers and critical attention more than 50 years after its release, and which was selected in 2001 for preservation in the US National Film Registry. Nyby's credit as the director has been challenged by some critics; Howard Hawks, the film's producer, was on the set for most of the filming, and is noted as one of the greatest film directors. Nyby himself commented on the controversy in 1982:
Did Hawks direct it? That's one of the most inane and ridiculous questions I've ever heard, and people keep asking. That it was Hawks' style. Of course it was. This is a man I studied and wanted to be like. You would certainly emulate and copy the master you're sitting under, which I did. Anyway, if you're taking painting lessons from Rembrandt, you don't take the brush out of the master's hands.
- Vosburgh, Dick (December 4, 1993). "Obituary: Christian Nyby". The Independent.
- Christian Nyby at the Internet Movie Database
- "Works crediting Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks". The Internet Movie Database.
- "Librarian of Congress Names 25 More Films to National Film Registry". press release. Library of Congress. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Fuhrmann, Henry (25 May 1997). "A 'Thing' to His Credit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Gentry, Ric (Fall 2005). "Christian Nyby: An Interview". Post Script 25 (1): 3–21. Transcript of a February 4, 1991 interview with Nyby by Ric Gentry.
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