About André de Toth
Better known to film buffs than to the general public, André de Toth made more than 40 pictures, including None Shall Escape (1943), Pitfall (1948), The Gunfighter (1950), and Day of the Outlaw (1959), and was admired by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for his subtle and disturbing psychological effects and his frank depictions of violence and raw human emotions. His best-known film was the 3-D House of Wax (1953).
He was born Sâsvári Farkasfalvi Tóthfalusi Tóth Endre Antal Mihály on May 15, circa 1912. Toth earned a degree in law from the Royal Hungarian University in the early 1930s. He garnered acclaim for plays written as a college student, acquiring the mentorship of Ferenc Molnár and becoming part of the theater scene in Budapest. From that involvement he segued to the film industry and worked as a writer, assistant director, editor and sometime actor. In 1939 he directed five films just before war began in Europe. Several of these pictures received significant release in the Hungarian communities in the United States. De Toth went to England, spent several years as an assistant to fellow Hungarian émigré Alexander Korda, and eventually moved to the Los Angeles in 1942.
Based on his Hungarian films, the production work for Korda and writing he had done on American projects during earlier stints in Los Angeles, de Toth was given an oral contract as a director at Columbia from which he ultimately extricated himself by litigation.
Because he preferred working as an independent, de Toth had no “A” budgets early in his career and had to supplement his directing income with writing assignments, often uncredited. Introduced to Westerns by John Ford, de Toth worked mostly in that genre throughout the 1950s, often bringing elements of noir style into those films. In 1951 he received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing (with co-writer William Bowers) for the story filmed as The Gunfighter.
While he is often remembered as the director of the earliest and most successful 3-D film, House of Wax, (all the more remarkable since, like Ford, Fritz Lang, and Raoul Walsh, de Toth had only one good eye), he was also responsible for two of the noir cycle's most unusual examples: Pitfall and Crime Wave.
De Toth was married seven times and had 19 children. His wives included:
- Veronica Lake, to whom he was married from 1944 until 1952. They had a son, Andre Anthony Michael De Toth (October 25, 1945-February 24, 1991 Olympia, Washington) and a daughter, Diana De Toth (born October 16, 1948). They divorced in 1952.
- Marie Louise Stratton, to whom he was married from 1953 until 1982, when they divorced. This marriage also produced two children, Michelle and Nicolas.
- He was married to Ann Green at the time of his death; they had no children together.