David Bradley, 77, film director and connoisseur of the Old Hollywood, died Dec. 20 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 77.
A native of Winnetka, Ill., Bradley was still a student at Northwestern U. when he began his film career with privately financed 8.5mm and 16mm adaptations of classic texts. After early versions of “Oliver Twist” and “Treasure Island,” Bradley cast a fellow Northwestern student, Charlton Heston, first in “Peer Gynt” (1941), and eight years later in “Julius Caesar,” which was imaginatively lensed with Chicago’s Romanesque Museum of Science and Industry as a backdrop and in which Heston portrayed Antony.
In 1946, Bradley shot a film of “Macbeth,” and his amateur efforts caused him to be dubbed “The 16mm Orson Welles” and to be embraced by the Young Turk British critics of the time, including Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson.
As a result, Bradley was signed by MGM and launched his Hollywood career in 1952 with “Talk About a Stranger,” which was shot by John Alton. But the material for his later films was unpromising, and he made just three more pictures: “Dragstrip Riot” (1958), “Twelve to the Moon” (1960), also lensed by Alton, and “Madman of Mandoras” (1963), also known as “They Stole Hitler’s Brain.”
Bradley was known to have one of the largest private film collections in the United States, and was celebrated in Hollywood for his annual New Year’s Day parties, at which many of the surviving greats of the silent and golden studio eras were regular guests. Bradley made home movies of these events, which are likely the last celluloid documents of many of these figures.