Joseph McBride is a professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University, where he has been teaching screenwriting and film history since 2002. He is an internationally recognized film historian, the author of eighteen books, including the acclaimed biographies Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, and Searching for John Ford. McBride has also published a celebrated book of interviews with director Howard Hawks, Hawks on Hawks, and three books on Orson Welles, most recently What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career. He is currently working on a critical study of the celebrated German American director Ernst Lubitsch.
The Broken Places, published in 2015, is a memoir of McBride’s youth in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. McBride was educated at St. Bernard’s Grade School in suburban Wauwatosa; Marquette University High School in Milwaukee; and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The book is a longtime labor of love for the author, as is his 2013 book Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit. McBride was a volunteer in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Wisconsin presidential primary campaign and appears in the classic documentary film about that campaign, Primary.
McBride’s books have been published in French, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, Finnish, Japanese, and Chinese. The French edition of Searching for John Ford, A la recherche de John Ford, won the Best Foreign Film Book of the Year award from the French film critics’ organization in 2008.
McBride has been a professional journalist since 1960 and has written for such publications as Life, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Sight and Sound, Film Quarterly, Film Comment, Cineaste, and the Writers Guild of America magazine Written By. He was a founder of The Velvet Light Trap, a reporter for The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) and the Riverside (California) Press Enterprise, and a reviewer, reporter, and columnist for Daily Variety in Hollywood.
McBride is also a veteran film and television writer whose decades of experience in the industry have brought him a Writers Guild of America Award, four other WGA nominations, two Emmy Awards nominations, and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. McBride was one of the screenwriters of the cult classic punk rock musical Rock ’n’ Roll High School and cowrote five American Film Institute Life Achievement Award specials for CBS-TV, honoring James Stewart, Fred Astaire, Frank Capra, John Huston, and Lillian Gish. McBride plays a film critic in Welles’s legendary unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind (1970-76), for which McBride cowrote his dialogue with Welles. McBride wrote the segment on war movies, War and Peace, for 100 Years . . . 100 Movies (American Film Institute/TNT), 1998, and co-wrote the 1982 United States Information Agency worldwide live television special in tribute to the Polish Solidarity Movement, Let Poland Be Poland. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the American Cinema Editors, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and he was a founding member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
McBride co-produced the 1997 documentary Obsessed with “Vertigo”: New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece and the 2002 documentary John Ford Goes to War. McBride was a consultant and interviewee for the documentary Becoming John Ford, released in 2007 as part of the Ford at Fox boxed set of DVDs, which won the “Film Heritage” award from the National Society of Film Critics and was chosen as “DVD of the Year” by Time magazine. McBride has made many appearances in documentary films and has done audio commentaries for numerous films on DVD. He plays a film critic in Orson Welles’s unfinished feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970-76). In 2011, McBride became the subject of a feature-length documentary, Behind the Curtain: Joseph McBride on Writing Film History, written and directed by Hart Perez.