Joseph McBride (born August 9, 1947) is an American film historian, biographer, screenwriter and professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. 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.
Early life and early career
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, Frank Capra, Orson Welles, and John Ford.
He has written three books on 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). His two books on John Ford are 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. Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success was published in 1992. His Steven Spielberg: A Biography was published in 1997, and published in translation in mainland China in 2012.
In 2012, McBride published a book on screenwriting: Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless.
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.
In 2015 he published The Broken Places: A Memoir, which deals with his troubled childhood, his teenage breakdown, and his subsequent recovery.
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).
McBride plays a film critic, Mister Pister, in the unfinished Orson Welles feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970–76). McBride 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
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. McBride has also received four other WGA nominations, two Emmy nominations, 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 McBride's 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.
McBride lives in Berkeley, California. His life partner is author and psychology educator Ann Weiser Cornell.