This is a Visual History Recording
Visual History with Harold Becker
Interviewed by: Robert Markowitz
Feature director Harold Becker (The Onion Field, City Hall) discusses his long directorial career, giving insight and sharing stories, including how to make the best out of a tiny budget, why you should never screen your film’s rough cut for a studio, and the benefits of having a good working relationship with Al Pacino.
Harold Becker began his career as an artist and photographer, attending the Pratt Institute in New York. Upon graduation, he worked as a photographer and commercial director in New York, shooting everything from cigarette ads to public service announcements for the American Cancer Society, even collaborating with Andy Warhol. In the late 1960s Becker moved to England to continue his commercial directing and photography career. Being attracted to the more independent way of working European directors were afforded, Becker decided to direct his first feature, The Ragman’s Daughter (1972).
His next film, and perhaps his most celebrated, was the true crime story The Onion Field (1979) starring then-virtually unknown actors John Savage, James Woods and Ted Danson. Becker followed the success of The Onion Field with a long career as a director, most noted for his thrillers that involve ordinary people being caught up in unexpected dangers such as Vision Quest (1985), The Boost (1988), Malice (1993), and Domestic Disturbance (2001), among others. Becker has also directed Al Pacino in a leading role twice; Sea of Love (1989) and City Hall (1996).