Philip Kaufman

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Philip Kaufman
Philip Kaufman 03.jpg
Kaufman at the 1991 Venice Film Festival
Born (1936-10-23) October 23, 1936 (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation director, screenwriter, producer, actor
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Rose Kaufman (1958–2009; her death)
Awards Saturn Award for Best Direction
1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers
KCFCC Award for Best Director
1983 The Right Stuff
NSFC Award for Best Director
1988 The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Philip Kaufman (born October 23, 1936) is an American film director and screenwriter. His movies have adapted novels of widely different types – from Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being to Michael Crichton's Rising Sun; from Tom Wolfe's true-life The Right Stuff to the erotic writings of Anaïs Nin’s Henry & June. His greatest success has been the film The Right Stuff which received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Early life[edit]

Kaufman was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elizabeth (Brandau) and Nathan Kaufman and the grandson of German-Jewish immigrants.[1][2] He attended the University of Chicago and later Harvard Law School. After spending some time backpacking in Europe with his wife Rose, Kaufman returned to the United States. His time in Europe heavily influenced Kaufman's decision to become a filmmaker, when he and his wife would wander into small movie theaters showcasing the works of John Cassavetes among others.[clarification needed] He held some odd jobs including mailman. During his frequent travels he met Anaïs Nin. The relationship between Nin and her lover, the writer Henry Miller, was the inspiration for Kaufman's film Henry and June.


Kaufman returned Chicago, ready to make a feature film. With his wife behind him[clarification needed], he proceeded to go around town looking for funding for his film, which became his directorial debut, Goldstein, co-written and co-directed with Benjamin Manaster. With that film in 1965, they were awarded the Prix de la Nouvelle Critique at the Cannes Film Festival. French director Jean Renoir called it the best American film in 20 years. Two years later, Kaufman went on to direct Fearless Frank which marked the debut of Jon Voight. While the movie didn't gain as much attention as Goldstein, it did help Kaufman land a contract in Universal Studios' Young Directors Program.

In 1972, Kaufman wrote and directed The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid starring Robert Duvall as Jesse James.

In 1974, Kaufman directed the film The White Dawn, a drama based on the novel of the same name by James Houston. It is set in the Arctic and stars Warren Oates.

Kaufman had commenced directing The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) but was fired under Clint Eastwood's command by producer Bob Daley due to strong disagreements between the two. Eastwood's sacking of Kaufman resulted in Eastwood being fined (reported to be around $60,000) from the Directors Guild of America, who subsequently passed new legislation reserving the right to impose a major fine on a producer for discharging a director and replacing him with himself.[3]

In 1978, Kaufman directed the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which would become his first hit.

In 1979, he directed The Wanderers, based on the novel by Richard Price.

In 1981, Kaufman became involved with the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, for which he received story credit. While the character of Indiana Jones was created by George Lucas, it was Kaufman who came up with the story and the pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant.

In 1983, Kaufman directed the critically acclaimed film, The Right Stuff, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. The film was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture. The film won 4 Oscars.

In 1988, Kaufman was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, based on the novel by Milan Kundera.

In 1990, he wrote and directed Henry & June, which was the first film to be given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA.

In 1993, he directed Rising Sun, an adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel. The film starred Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

In 1995, he narrated China: The Wild East a documentary directed by his son, Peter Kaufman.

In 2000, Kaufman directed Quills, a satirical thriller film about the increasingly desperate efforts of the Marquis de Sade's jailers to censor his licentious works, starring Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Winslet and Michael Caine.

In 2003, he directed Twisted, a thriller about a young policewoman whose casual sex partners are murdered while she herself suffers alcoholic blackouts. It starred Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia.

Kaufman's wife Rose, who has a cameo appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, co-wrote the screenplays of The Wanderers and Henry & June. Their son, Peter Kaufman, was the producer of Henry and June, Rising Sun and Quills, Twisted and Hemingway & Gellhorn.

Kaufman lives in San Francisco, where he also runs his production company, Walrus and Associates.

Kaufman directed an HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn entitled Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman. The film aired on HBO on May 28, 2012.[4] The film was nominated for 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, including one for Kaufman for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special.[5]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ McGilligan, p.264
  4. ^ "HBO Orders Hemingway Film With Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen". 
  5. ^,%20Movie%20Or%20A%20Dramatic%20Special

External links[edit]