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David Mamet

David Alan Mamet


Director, Writer, Screenwriter, Playwright
Date of Birth: November 30th, 1947 
Sign: Sagittarius
Place of Birth: Flossmoor, Illinois, USA
Education: Goddard College, Vermont; The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, New York
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Most recognized of Mamet’s style is his sparse, clipped dialogue. Although reminiscent of such playwrights as Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, Mamet’s dialogue is so unique that it has become known as “Mametspeak.”  His language is not so much “naturalistic,” as it is a “poetic” impression of streetwise jargon. 

In the entertainment field, David Alan Mamet is widely known and respected for his work not only as a Director but also as a Playwright and an Author. 

Mamet’s dialogue is so unique that it has become known as “Mametspeak.”

He was born in Flossmoor, Illinois on November 30, 1947, and often incorporates overtones of his hometown in his plays. He studied at Goddard College in Vermont and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York.  He has taught at New York University, Goddard College, and the Yale Drama School, and he regularly lectures at the Atlantic Theater Company, of which he is a founding member.

The 52-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner made his name with Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974), The Duck Variations (1976) and American Buffalo (1977), these dark dramas had strong male characters with highly charged dialogue that built dramatic tension within the confines of the play. He often portrays the plight of small-time drifters, salesmen, and hoods and the con games they play. The Woods (1977) and Edmond (1982) were followed by two successful plays; Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) for which he won his Pulitzer prize is a damning representation of the American business practices, and Speed-the-Plow (1988), which gives a savage view of the underside of the film industry. Glengarry Glen Ross was later made into a film version in 1992 using Mamets’ own script.  

Mamet had his first true screen success as a screenwriter with Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables in 1987.

In addition to working on the stage, he’s written screenplays for himself to direct (House of Games, Things Change, Homicide, Oleanna) as well as for others (Bob Rafelson’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict, Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables).  

Mamet began writing for the screen in 1981 with a re-make of The Postman Always Rings Twice, his script emphasizing base sexuality and violence of the material in such a way that the original 1947 film could not. After Glengarry Glen Ross, Mamet had his first true screen success as a screenwriter with Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables in 1987. That same year he received critical acclaim for his directorial debut, House of Games, a crime thriller starring Mamets then-wife Lindsay Crouse as a psychologist caught up in an elaborate con game. 

After directing two more celebrated features (Things Change, Homicide), Mamet turned primarily to screenwriting lending his talent to such films as Hoffa (1992), Malcolm X (1992), and Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). He took a brief respite to step back behind the camera to direct an adaptation of his controversial play, Oleanna in 1994.

His screenplay for Barry Levinson’s political satire Wag the Dog earned him both an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Screenplay. That same year he directed The Spanish Prisoner, his fifth film as writer-director, a twisting spy thriller that had the added attraction of Steve Martin in an uncharacteristically dark role. 

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