Jean Negulesco was a Romanian director and screenwriter, a pioneer in cinemascope, a wide-screen technique in the 1950s. He has worked for the major American film studios such as Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox and he has received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
By Alexandra Fodor
Jean Negulesco was born in 1900 in Craiova, southern Romania. In 1927, he moved to the United States and began his movie career as a sketch artist for Paramount Pictures, where he designed the opening montage for the musical Tonight We Sing. In 1944, he directed his first successful movie, The Mask of Dimitrios, based on a story by Eric Ambler.
Among his successful movies were The Conspirators (1944), Three Strangers (1946), Johnny Belinda, with Jane Wyman (1948), The Mudlark (1950), How to marry a millionaire, starring Marilyn Monroe, Titanic (1953), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Daddy Long Legs, with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron (1956).
Negulesco was famous for his directing style, represented by images taken from unusual angles and the use of shadows and silhouettes. He was the first to use the cinemascope technique in movies like How to marry a millionaire or Daddy Long Legs. He made the first movie about an aircraft accident and the first one about the tragedy of war prisoners during World War II.
In 1948, he directed Johnny Belinda, a drama about the rape of a deaf-mute girl and the scandal triggered by her resulting pregnancy. The movie was a success; Negulesco was nominated for an Academy Award for best director (he lost to John Huston), and Jane Wyman won the Oscar for best actor.
He worked with Hollywood’s biggest stars including Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton, Lana Turner, Irene Dunne, and Sophia Lauren.
His 1954 movie Three Coins in a Fountain won two Academy Awards for cinematography and for the title song and was nominated for an Oscar for best picture. In 1955, Negulesco received a BAFTA Award for Best Film for How to Marry a Millionaire. His 1959 movie, The Best of Everything, was on Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time” list.
In 1970s, he retired from film making and moved to Spain. In 1985, he published his autobiography entitled Things I Did and Things I Think I Did. Negulesco died in Marbella, Spain, July 18, 1993 at the age of 93 leaving behind 72 movies.