Romanians at Hollywood (Part 5)

Jean Negulesco (born Jean Negulescu; February 26, 1900, Craiova, Romania – July 18, 1993, Marbella, Spain), great Romanian film director and screenwriter.

Born in Craiova, Dolj County, he attended Carol I High School. In 1915, he moved to Vienna, and, in 1919, to Bucharest, where he worked as a painter. He later worked as a stage decorator in Paris. In 1927 he came to New York City for an exhibition of his paintings, and subsequently settled there. He entered the movie industry in 1934 as an assistant producer and later became a second unit director on pictures such as Captain Blood and A Farewell To Arms. He spent much of the middle and late 1930s as an associate director and screenwriter (including the original story for the Laurel and Hardy musical comedy Swiss Miss).

He made two-reel shorts at Warner Bros., and was given his abortive feature directorial debut in 1941's Singapore Woman, from which he was removed but retained credit as director. In the early days of 1942, he took over direction (including the denouement) of Across The Pacific from John Huston when Huston was called up for military service. The Mask of Dimetrios (1944) was Negulesco's formal debut, and proved successful as an offbeat thriller based on an Eric Ambler mystery novel. He later made Johnny Belinda (1948), a groundbreaking drama about a deaf-mute girl who is the victim of rape, which won Jane Wyman an Oscar as Best Actress, and the fact-based prisoner-of-war drama Three Came Home (1950), starring Claudette Colbert.

During the 1950s, Negulesco moved comfortably into slicker entertainment, including the comedy How To Marry A Millionaire (1953), the first film shot in CinemaScope (BAFTA Award for Best Film), and Three Coins In the Fountain (1954), as well as Fred Astaire's first wide-screen feature, Daddy Long Legs (1954). His 1959 movie, The Best of Everything, made it on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time" list.

He retired from film-making after many years of declining work in features, and was one of the most honored of Hollywood's elder statesmen for the last two decades of his life. Although never a noted director, Negulesco, in his early prime, showed unusual sensitivity in his choice of subjects and actors. From the late 1960s, he lived in Marbella, Spain. He died there at age 93, of heart failure.