Bradley, David, 1920-1997

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David Shedd Bradley was born in Evanston, Illinois on April 6, 1920, the son of Addison Ballard and Katherine Shedd Bradley. A member of Chicago's prominent Shedd family, Bradley earned his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. He went on to direct films for MGM as well as teach at UCLA. Bradley died in 1997.

Bradley attended the Todd School from 1935 to 1937 and Lake Forest Academy during 1937-1940. At Lake Forest Bradley made one of his earlier films, “Preps in Action,” an account of a day in the life of an average student. His first experience with film came through his use of his family's Winnetka basement as a movie theatre for neighborhood friends. Bradley had turned his hand to filmmaking by the mid-1930s. Preceding “Preps in Action” was a 16 millimeter short of “Treasure Island” (1937). Other films from the period include “Doctor X” (1938), “Emperor Jones” (1938), and an adaptation of The Christmas Carol, titled “Marley's Ghost” (1939). Bradley spent a year at the Goodman Memorial Theatre Drama Department of the Art Institute of Chicago and cast actors he met there in full-length film versions of “Oliver Twist” (1940), “Peer Gynt” (1941), and the Saki story, “Sredni Vashtar” (1943).

In September 1941, Bradley enrolled in the School of Speech of Northwestern University where he continued to pursue his interests in film and acting. He was accepted also into the Northwestern University Radio Playshop. In 1942 military service interrupted Bradley's formal education. Following three years in the film section of the Signal Corps, he returned to Northwestern where he completed film versions of “Macbeth” (1946) and “Julius Caesar” (1950). The latter tied for first place at the Locarno Film Festival and won much international acclaim. One of the first 16 millimeter films to be booked into theatres on a nationwide scale, “Julius Caesar” attracted the attention of Dore Schary, the M.G.M. studio chief. After graduating from Northwestern in June 1950, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech, Bradley went to Hollywood to work for M.G.M.

Bradley's first assignment at M.G.M. was to assist in coaching pre-production rehearsals for first-time director Robert Pirosh's “Go For Broke.” After two years of interning, Bradley was allowed to direct his own film, “Talk About a Stranger” (1952). At the age of 32 Bradley was then the youngest director at M.G.M.

In the early 1950s, with Gerry Sherman, Bradley formed Oceanic Productions Inc. Their first project was to be a filmed version of Paul Gauguin's Tahitian journal “Noa-Noa.” James Agee wrote the screenplay and Emile Gauguin was hired as a technical assistant. This project was not completed. Bradley left M.G.M. in the mid-1950s and made three more films: “Dragstrip Riot” (1958, American International), “Twelve To The Moon” (1960, Columbia Pictures), and “Madmen of Mandoras” (1964, Crown International).

More recently, as an adjunct to producing and directing and drawing upon his extraordinary collection of rare films and extensive knowledge of the field, Bradley has taught courses in film aesthetics and history at the University of California at Los Angeles and at Santa Monica College.

From the guide to the David Bradley (1920-1997) Papers, 1936-1980, (Northwestern University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Music for Julius Caesar / by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf David Bradley (1920-1997) Papers, 1936-1980 Northwestern University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Motion pictures--Study and teaching
Motion picture producers and directors--United States


Birth 1920-04-06

Death 1997-12-19



Ark ID: w6514vrf

SNAC ID: 47607905