Thursday, March 22, 2007

RIP Stuart Rosenberg and Freddie Francis.

Director Stuart Rosenberg passed away last week in Beverly Hills at the age of 79.  He was most famous for the classic COOL HAND LUKE, which contained one of two Iconic Rebel performances of Paul Newman released in 1967 (the other was in Martin Ritt's HOMBRE).  Rosenberg's films were a diverse lot, varying from the original THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)--allegedly his most commercially successful film--to the DIRTY HARRY-influenced THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN (1973) to the prison reform drama BRUBAKER (1980) to THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE (1984), which reminds one of the days before Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts' careers as a sort of neo-Brando and Clift went off the rails.

Director/cinematographer Freddie Francis passed away last week in the UK at 89.  He directed Hammer/Amicus horror films during their golden age in the 60s; I particularly remember THE SKULL (1965), which starred Peter Cushing, for its vivid, stylized look and feel--worthy of being mentioned along with the better Roger Corman Poe films.  In terms of Francis' career as a cinematographer, most people will best remember its second phase from 1980 into the 1990s--with fine work on such films as David Lynch's THE ELEPHANT MAN and THE STRAIGHT STORY and Martin Scorsese's CAPE FEAR remake.

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