In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when live television dramas were generally abandoned in favor of pre-taped series with recurring characters (which enabled the easier re-use of sets and actors), a large crop of talented television directors moved to the freedom of film.
With them, they brought an artistic philosophy based on subversion and improvisation. This had been developed during their hectic TV careers, in which they essentially had to create entire feature films, live, with a week to prepare.
Arthur Penn (1922 - )started out directing episodes of The Philco Television Playhouse, The Goodyear Television Playhouse and Playhouse 90. In 1958 he had his film debut with The Left Handed Gun. From there, his career highlights have included The Miracle Worker (1962), Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Night Moves (1975).
John Cassavetes (1929 - 1989), who is often better known as an actor, got his start directing with TV's Staccato. He went on to helm such features as Faces (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980).
One of the better known, and more aggressively visual, of these directors is John Frankenheimer (1930 -2002). He cut his teeth directing episodes of Danger, Climax! and Playhouse 90. From there he went on to The Ninth Day, The Young Stranger, The Comedian, The Browning Version and The Turn of the Screw –– all live TV productions. After his feature debut, The Young Savages (1961), he worked almost constantly until his death. His films include Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Grand Prix (1966), Seconds (1966), Black Sunday (1977), Prophecy: The Monster Movie (1979) and Ronin (1988).
It was filmmakers like these who saved film from certain death beneath the wheels of television. They introduced darkness, ambiguity (both moral and narrative) and overtly political content –– elements that had previously been lacking in both television and film.