Comedian, stage director, and one of Hollywood’s great film directors, Mike Nichols has passed away at 83. Blasting onto the movie scene with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the mid 1960s, a film that was nominated for nearly all the major Oscars that year (it won for actress, best supporting actress and cinematography), and closing his career with the quite underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Nicols made accessible satire a specialty, a feat that is not easy to do. Along with Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl, Closer, Biloxi Blues and the pure paycheck flick Day of the Dolphin, his career made fine use of movie stars, while always finding a way to the take ‘celebrity vehicle’ out of the equation.
Along with Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, before him, Nicols’ voice is already missed as one of the most intelligent human-comedy directors Hollywood has ever employed.
The Guardian has more.
Film star turned director, Richard Attenborough will be known to one generation as the founder of InGen, the dinosaur cloning company that invites Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum to the island of Nublar in 1993’s Jurassic Park. He will be known to the previous generation as the director of Oscar heavyweight 1982 film, Gandhi, that starred Ben Kingsley in brown-face. And he will be know to yet another, older, generation as prolific actor who capped a very busy 20 year stretch of acting in his native England the forties and fifties as gangsters and soldiers with his pivotal role in the 1963 classic The Great Escape.
He was also Santa Claus (er… Kris Kringle) in John Hughes’ produced remake of The Miracle on 34th St., directed a very big studio biopic on Charlie Chaplin, and directed about half a dozen war films himself, including the star studded A Bridge Too Far (which has, perhaps the definitive “explain the mission with a gigantic map” scene).
Personally, my favourite role is as creepy serial killer in Richard Fleisher’s criminally underseen 10 Rillington Place, in which he kills old ladies, babies and torments a young, drunk and naive John Hurt.
The Guardian Has More.
From the heights of Hollywood glamour and sizzle to delightfully acerbic grand dame, Lauren Bacall was the type of movie star that we do not see anymore, and for that matter did not see much of even then. From classic noir pictures To Have and To Have Not and The Big Sleep in the 1940s all the way up to the 21st century arthouse fare such as Birth, The Walker and Dogville, Bacall was always a woman in control, grounded, and any attractiveness and desirability came as much from her assured self confidence as it did from her feline grace on screen. At 89 years old and still working (both on screen and on the Broadway stage) up to the time of her death, yesterday, she has a rare 7 decades of career that are well worth exploring.
The Guardian has more.
This one is a punch to the gut. But, details aside, let’s take some time to remember the man, the legend, and share our favorite moments from his illustrious career.
Here’s a great scene from the awesome and underappreciated Death to Smoochy:
Be sure to share your favorite and most memorable moments!
James Garner, prolific character actor, TV star, and all around charming presence on screens of any size for decades, passed on today at age 86. He mixed politics with his celebrity, being a lifelong democrat and activist, but never seemed to get penalized by it, much like the characters is played in Maverick and The Rockford Files. Even when he played the villain in the movie version of the former, he was pretty damn likeable.
The Star has more.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #a9a883;”] T [/dropcap]he great character actor Eli Wallach, best known for his role as Tuco in Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Wallach had over 150 film and TV credits, and was working right up into his mid 90s, having appeared in brief roles in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street sequel.
The New York Times has more.
Swiss artist H.R. Giger has passed on at age 74. He is best known as the designer for the iconic xenomorph creature from the Alien franchise of films – many designs coming out out of the failed 1970s adaptation of Dune – for which he won the Visual Effects Academy Award. Prolific and instantly recognizable, his work fused biological and the industrial in a monochrome creepiness, Giger’s contribution to popular culture extended into album covers, sculpture and galleries paintings often depicting machinery, sexuality and violence, often all at the same time.
More at the NYTimes.
The great Bob Hoskins has passed on last night at the age of 71. Whether you knew his fine work as the ambitious gangster from The Long Good Friday, the detective lost in Toon Town in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or as the haplessly incompetent Central Services repairman in Brazil, the actor excelled at playing slightly put upon blue collar types in odd environments. The ultimate ‘easy casting’ of his career was a total disaster as a certain video game plumber in spectacularly awful 1990s adaptation of Nintendo’s mascot video game character Mario. And it was a shame that his last film was having his head CGI grafted onto another actors body in Snow White and the Huntsman as one of the dwarves, because outside special effects and tacky pop culture, he did his best work. Hoskins was (and is) considered one of the Britain’s cinematic greats of his generation and will be missed.
The Telegraph has more.
Another passing of a Hollywood Legend, perhaps one of the longest careers in the history of cinema, Mickey Rooney started as a child actor at age 2 and was working still at 93 on multiple film projects the supporting roles he was accustomed for the latter half of his career. Rooney was in the process of appearing in B. Luciano Barsuglia’s adaptation of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, when he died at home, surrounded by his family at 93 years old.
A willing and able actor in the studio system (He did a number of films with young Judy Garland) and beyond, the man has an incredible 300+ film and TV acting credits, and this doesn’t count all of his time spent on stage. Personally, I remember him in his most racist caricature in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s where he plays the upstairs Japanese neighbor and yells a lot, which is perhaps a more unfortunate legacy. His broad comic humour, short stature, and boundless enthusiasm won him many fans, particularly in Hollywood’s golden age, just as his wild-child alienated others as the studio system was crumbling.
Married 8 times (the last of which lasted 37 years) he has a staggering amount of children, grand children and great grandchildren. Cue the biopic going into pre-production in 5…4…3…
The Guardian has more, here.