Phil Karlson (Philip N. Karlstein)
BiographyChicago, Illinois, USA
Phil Karlson entered the film industry while a law student at Loyola Marymount University in California. He got a job at Universal Pictures as a prop man, then worked pretty much any job they threw at him, from being an assistant director on several Bud Abbott and Lou Costello films to directing short subjects. He finally got a shot at features in 1944. Although he initially worked for low-budget studios like Monogram (where he shot several Bowery Boys and Charlie Chan entries) and Eagle-Lion, his films even then were marked by his penchant for short, tight scenes and sudden bursts of action. Read more... He made his mark in the 1950s with a series of tough, realistic, violent crime films noted for their gritty location shooting and Karlson's almost fanatic attention to detail. As good as those films were, though, Karlson was never able to capitalize on them and raise himself out of the B-picture mire, and he was stuck making things like The Young Doctors (1961), Kid Galahad (1962) and a pair of the repugnant Matt Helm films with Dean Martin, until he hit it big with Walking Tall (1973), his biggest commercial success (and which, since he owned a large part of the picture, made him rich).