Director Joseph Pevney, best known for his 1950s movies made chiefly at Universal, and for handling minor star vehicles for the likes of Joan Crawford, Jeff Chandler, Loretta Young, Alan Ladd, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra, died this past May 18. Pevney was 96. (Image: Joseph Pevney ca. 1955.)
Among Pevney’s ’50s efforts are the Frank Sinatra drama Meet Danny Wilson (1951), made when Sinatra’s career was in the doldrums; Desert Legion (1953), starring Alan Ladd; It Happens Every Thursday (1952), Loretta Young’s last feature film; 3 Ring Circus (1954), a run-of-the-mill comedy with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Joanne Dru; and Istanbul (1957), starring a post-stardom Errol Flynn as a suspected diamond smuggler.
Joseph Pevney’s grade “A” productions
Among Joseph Pevney’s more upscale efforts were the over-the-top melodrama Female on the Beach (1954), which paired Joan Crawford with lover-cum-potential-murderer Jeff Chandler at his hunkiest; the Lon Chaney biopic Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), starring James Cagney as Chaney, and Dorothy Malone and Jane Greer as two of the women in his life; the war drama Torpedo Run (1958), with Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine; and the routine melodrama Cash McCall (1960), with James Garner and Natalie Wood.
One of Pevney’s biggest hits was the likable light romance Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which swamp girl Debbie Reynolds falls for sophisticated gentleman Leslie Nielsen while getting to sing the Oscar-nominated ditty “Tammy.”
One of Universal’s top contract players – even if that meant mostly B-movie work – Jeff Chandler starred in eight films for Pevney.
Joseph Pevney: Television work
Beginning in the late ’50s, Pevney also started working on television. From 1962 on, he devoted his time exclusively to that medium, directing countless episodes of TV series ranging from Bewitched, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Big Valley to Star Trek, Little House on the Prairie, and The Incredible Hulk.