Phil Karlson

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Phil Karlson
Phil Karlson.jpg
Phil Karlson
Born Philip N. Karlstein
(1908-07-02)July 2, 1908
Chicago, Illinois
Died December 12, 1982(1982-12-12) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California
Alma mater School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Loyola Marymount University
Occupation Film director

Phil Karlson (born Philip N. Karlstein; July 2, 1908 – December 12, 1982) was an American film director. Karlson directed 99 River Street, Kansas City Confidential and Hell's Island, all with actor John Payne, in the early 1950s.[1]

Other films include The Texas Rangers (1951), The Phenix City Story (1955), 5 Against the House (1955), The Young Doctors (1961) and Walking Tall (1973).


Karlson was the son of Irish actress Lillian O'Brien.[2] His father was Jewish.[3]

He studied painting at Chicago's Art Institute, and law, at his father's request, at Loyola Marymount University in California.

Karlson got into the film industry working as a prop man while a law student.[citation needed] After working a variety of jobs in the business--including assistant director on a number of Abbott and Costello films--he made his directorial debut in 1944.[citation needed] He directed Marilyn Monroe's first film, 1948's Ladies of the Chorus, and worked on a number of low-budget projects for Monogram Pictures and Eagle-Lion Films before finally hitting his stride in the early 1950s, when he turned out a string of tough, gritty, realistic and violent crime thrillers.[citation needed]

In the 1960s he directed Kid Galahad (1962) with Elvis Presley and two Matt Helm spy films starring Dean Martin, the original The Silencers followed by The Wrecking Crew (1969) co-starring Sharon Tate and Elke Sommer.

He hit it big in 1973 with Walking Tall, the fact-based story of a crusading sheriff in the most corrupt county in Tennessee.[4] It was a major domestic and international hit. It also made him a fortune, thanks to the fact that he owned a large percentage of it.[citation needed]

The Academy Film Archive has preserved his films Tight Spot and Scandal Sheet.[5]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Phil Karlson". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Phil Karlson". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  3. ^ Conesr, John W. (October 8, 2012). Patterns of Bias in Hollywood Movies. Algora Publishing. pp. 85, 93, and 98. ISBN 9780875869582. 
  4. ^ Kehr, Dave (May 18, 2012). "Idealistic Lawmen Taking Crime Very Personally". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive. 

External links[edit]