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Curtis Lee Hanson (March 24, 1945 – September 20, 2016) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His directing work included the psychological thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), the neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential (1997), the comedy Wonder Boys (2000), the hip-hop biopic 8 Mile (2002), and the romantic comedy-drama In Her Shoes (2005).

Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson.JPG
Hanson at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival
Curtis Lee Hanson

(1945-03-24)March 24, 1945
DiedSeptember 20, 2016(2016-09-20) (aged 71)
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1970–2016

Hanson won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1998, for co-writing L.A. Confidential with Brian Helgeland.[1]


Early lifeEdit

Hanson was born in Reno, Nevada, and grew up in Los Angeles.[2] He was the son of Beverly June Curtis, a real estate agent, and Wilbur Hale "Bill" Hanson, a teacher.[3][4][5] Hanson dropped out of high school, finding work as a freelance photographer and editor for Cinema magazine.[6]

Film careerEdit

Hanson began screenwriting in 1970, when he co-wrote The Dunwich Horror, a film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story. Hanson wrote and directed his next feature Sweet Kill starring Tab Hunter in 1973, then in 1978 wrote and produced The Silent Partner, starring Elliott Gould and Christopher Plummer. From the early 1980s into 1990s, Hanson directed a string of comedies and dramas. He did thrillers, too: many of them deal with people who lose their sense of control or security when facing danger or under threat of death.[citation needed] Some, like the financial executive in Bad Influence and the police officers in L.A. Confidential, unexpectedly walk into violence and disaster.[citation needed]

In the 1990s, Hanson found box-office success with The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild, and received significant critical acclaim with his 1997 film L.A. Confidential, an adaptation of the James Ellroy novel. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and won two — Best Adapted Screenplay (a credit Hanson shared with Brian Helgeland), and Best Supporting Actress (for Kim Basinger).[1] Hanson's later works included In Her Shoes, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile, and Lucky You.

Hanson said that he was heavily influenced by the directors Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray. In an interview with the New York Times in 2000, Hanson stated that Ray's film In a Lonely Place was among many that he watched in preparation for the filming of L.A. Confidential.[7] In 8 Mile, Kim Basinger's character watches Elia Kazan's Pinky on television. The film is about a mixed-race girl who passes as white; the reference to it in Hanson's film functions as an homage to the themes of racial mixing and boundary-crossing that are features of much of his work.[citation needed]

In 2011, Hanson made Too Big to Fail, based on the 2009 Andrew Ross Sorkin book of the same name about the beginnings of the financial crisis of 2007–2010. The film, produced by Hanson's production company Deuce Three Productions for HBO, featured among its cast William Hurt as Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, and Cynthia Nixon as his liaison to the press; James Woods as Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers; and Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke.[8] His last film was Chasing Mavericks in 2012, but he was unable to finish the film due to ill health. Michael Apted replaced him as director during the final days of shooting.[9]


Hanson later retired from film work and was reported to have frontotemporal dementia. He died of natural causes at his Hollywood Hills home at the age of 71.[6]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1970 The Dunwich Horror No Yes No
1972 Sweet Kill Yes Yes Yes Directorial Debut
1978 The Silent Partner No Yes Associate
1979 The Little Dragons Yes No Yes
1982 White Dog No Yes No
1983 Losin' It Yes No No
Never Cry Wolf No Yes No
1987 The Bedroom Window Yes Yes No
Evil Town Yes No No Credited as Edward Collins
Co-directed with Larry Spiegel, Peter S. Traynor and Mardi Rustam
1990 Bad Influence Yes No No
1992 The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Yes No No
1994 The River Wild Yes No No
1997 L.A. Confidential Yes Yes Yes
2000 Wonder Boys Yes No Yes
2002 8 Mile Yes No Yes
2005 In Her Shoes Yes No Yes Co-produced by Deuce Three Productions (as Deuce Three) [10]
2007 Lucky You Yes Yes Yes
2011 The Big Year No No Yes
2012 Chasing Mavericks Yes No Yes Co-directed with Michael Apted
Co-produced by Deuce Three Productions (as Deuce Three) [10]

Also cameo appearance (as 'Orlean's Husband') in Adaptation (2002).


Year Title Director Executive
1986 The Children of Times Square Yes No Also writer
Television film
2002 Greg the Bunny Yes No Episode 'Piddler on the Roof'
2010 Three Rivers No Yes Episode 'Win-Loss'
2011 Too Big to Fail Yes Yes Television films
Co-produced by Deuce Three Productions[10]
2014 Hoke No Yes

Director music videoEdit


  1. ^ a b Weinraub, Bernard (24 March 1998). "'Titanic' Ties Record With 11 Oscars, Including Best Picture". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Curtis Hanson, Oscar-winning director of LA Confidential, dies aged 71". The Guardian. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. ^ "* Wilbur (Bill) Hanson; Educator". Los Angeles Times. February 16, 1994.
  4. ^ "Survival Lesson For 'River' Director". The New York Times. October 5, 1994.
  5. ^ Kappa Delta Sorority (1941). Angelos. ISSN 1064-5837. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  6. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis; Vankin, Deborah (20 September 2016). "Curtis Hanson dead at 71". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Lyman, Rick (15 December 2000). "A Dark Lesson in Trust". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Too Big To Fail": The story behind HBO's movie", interview with Curtis Hanson, Marketplace (radio program), May 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Curtis Hanson: Oscar-winning writer and director dies at 71". BBC News. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Deuce Three Productions on IMDb

External linksEdit