Joseph McBride (writer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Joseph Pierce McBride
Joseph McBride writer.jpg
Born August 9, 1947
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education Marquette University High School, University of Wisconsin
Occupation historian, biographer, screenwriter, author, educator
Employer San Francisco State University
Home town Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Partner(s) Ann Weiser Cornell
Awards Writers Guild of America Award

Joseph McBride (born August 9, 1947) is an American film historian, biographer, screenwriter, author and educator. He has written numerous books including biographies of notable film directors, a book on screenwriting, an investigative journalism book on the JFK assassination, and a memoir of the dark years in his life.

He also serves as professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University.[1]


Early life and career[edit]

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, McBride grew up in the suburb of Wauwatosa. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and worked as a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, before moving to California in 1973.


McBride has published 18 books since 1968, including biographies of film directors Steven Spielberg (Steven Spielberg: A Biography, 1997, and published in translation in mainland China in 2012), Frank Capra (Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, 1992), Orson Welles (Orson Welles (1972), Orson Welles: Actor and Director (1977) and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006)), and John Ford (John Ford (with Michael Wilmington, 1974) and Searching for John Ford (2001)). McBride's interview book with director Howard Hawks, Hawks on Hawks, was published in 1982.

In 2012, he published a screenwriting manual, Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless.[2] In the book, McBride uses his adaptation of Jack London’s short story "To Build a Fire" to break down the steps necessary for a screenplay, such as research, treatments, and outlines. The book draws from his extensive teaching experience.[3]

In 2013, he published Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit, which was the result of McBride's 31-year investigation of the case. Later, in 2015, he published The Broken Places: A Memoir, which deals with his troubled childhood, his teenage breakdown, and his subsequent recovery.

Film and television[edit]

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 was also cowriter of the United States Information Agency worldwide live TV special Let Poland Be Poland (1982).

He plays a film critic, Charles Pister, in the unfinished Orson Welles feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970–76). He is also the coproducer of the documentaries Obsessed with "Vertigo": New Life for Hitchcock's Masterpiece (1997) and John Ford Goes to War (2002).

Awards and honors[edit]

McBride received the "Television: Comedy/Variety - Special" Writers Guild of America Award in 1984 for cowriting The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston with producer George Stevens, Jr.[4] He has also received four other WGA nominations,[4] two Emmy nominations,[5] and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. The French edition of Searching for John Ford, titled 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.

A documentary feature on his 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.

Personal life[edit]

McBride lives in Berkeley, California. His life partner is author and psychology educator Ann Weiser Cornell.[6]


  1. ^ "Joseph McBride". Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. Retrieved December 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (September 28, 2012). "McBride's guide to 'Painless'screenwriting". Honeycutt's Hollywood. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Joseph McBride: Awards". Writers Guild Foundation. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Joseph McBride: Awards & Nominations". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ McBride, Joseph. Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless. Random House, 2012. pp. 352–353.

External links[edit]