Nicolas Roeg, the supremely talented British cinematographer who ultimately became an acclaimed director, has died at age 90. Roeg's unique eye for filming scenes in a creative manner gained him a reputation in the movie industry in the 1960s. He was a second-unit photographer on David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and contributed to Lean's "Doctor Zhivago". By 1964, he was credited as Director of Photography on Roger Corman's "The Masque of the Red Death", one of the most stylishly filmed Corman horror productions. Soon, he found himself constantly in demand. Other films he photographed included "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Far from the Madding Crowd" and "Petulia". He also contributed to the 1967 spoof version of "Casino Royale".
Roeg next moved into the Director's chair with the bizarre and controversial 1970 crime film "Performance" that has since become a cult classic. Better received was "Walkabout", which- as with "Performance"- he both directed and served as DP. In 1973, Roeg directed his most acclaimed film, the horror thriller "Don't Look Now" which maintains its reputation as one of the most terrifying films ever made. His other notable movies include "The Man Who Fell to Earth", "Bad Timing" and "Castaway". Most of his films made since the 1980s were quirky in content and made little impact. Roeg's sometimes crusty nature also put him out of favor with major studios and he turned to the television industry where he occasionally directed TV movies. However, his best films are still revered by movie scholars worldwide. Click here for more.
Bertolucci on location for "Last Tango in Paris" with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in 1972.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Bernardo Bertolucci, the acclaimed Italian director, has died in Rome at age 77. The cause of death was not immediately revealed. Bertolucci won an Oscar for his direction of the 1987 film "The Last Emperor" and also received acclaim for his earlier films that included "The Spider's Stratagem" and "The Conformist". A left-wing Marxist through much of his life, Bertolucci also directed the 1976 epic "1900" which was steeped in political overtones. His most famous and notorious film was "Last Tango in Paris" (1972), which was non-political but highly controversial. It's graphic sexual content was the cause of international controversy and resulted in Bertolucci being charged with obscenity in his native Italy. The film starred Marlon Brando in the tale of a depressed, middle-aged American ex-pat who indulges in a series of anonymous sexual encounters with a teenage Parisian girl (Maria Schneider.) The movie was highly praised in some quarters while being denounced as pretentious pornography in others. Largely on the strength of Brando's powerful performance, the movie was an international boxoffice smash despite the fact that it was basically fare for art house cinemas. Both Brando and Bertolucci received Oscar nominations for the film. Bertolucci also directed the 1979 drama "Luna" which was also controversial for its overtones of an incestuous relationship between a mother and her teenage son. He would go on to also direct "The Sheltering Sky", "The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man". "The Sheltering Sky", "Stealing Beauty". "The Dreamers" and "Me and You". For New York Times coverage, click here.
Kudos to the New York Times for recognizing the passing of Jerry Ohlinger, the famed Gotham movie memorabilia dealer who passed away this week at age 75. Collectors would travel far and wide, especially in the pre-internet age, to rummage through Ohlinger's early shops that boasted a wealth of vintage movie stills, magazines and rare posters. Over the years, he moved locations several times and his shops, by necessity, became better staffed and more organized. Ohlinger seemed to be omnipresent, holding court at the shop, chatting with customers, shouting out orders to staffers who were in search of that illusive something that a customer required. He was quite the character: eccentric, engaging and always seen with a soggy cigar in his mouth that, ironically, was never lit because he didn't like smoking cigars. Go figure. Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Memorabilia Shop went through some hard times in recent years due to the skyrocketing rents that have wreaked havoc on small businesses in major cities. With Jerry's passing, it truly is an end of an era for collectors of vintage movie memorabilia, though his presence will be felt due to the fact that the last location of his shop will remain in operation. For more click here.
(Goldman with James Caan on the set of "A Bridge Too Far"- 1976)
BY LEE PFEIFFER
There's an old joke among writers about the naive young starlet who thought she could make it in Hollywood by sleeping with screenwriters. Indeed, the people who made it possible for hit films to exist by writing the scenarios the actors carried out on screen were often regarded as being very low on the industry totem pole- and relatively low-paid as well. Not so with novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, who elevated regard for screenwriters while demanding- and receiving- the kind of breakthrough salaries that revolutionized the film industry's respect for writers. Goldman has died from cancer in Manhattan at age 87. He was known to be opinionated, abrasive and demanding, but no one questioned his talents. He won Oscars for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men". Among his other screenplays: "Harper" (aka "The Moving Target"), "Marathon Man" (adapted from his own novel), "A Bridge Too Far", "The Princess Bride", "No Way to Treat a Lady", "The Hot Rock", "The Stepford Wives", "The Great Waldo Pepper", "Magic", "The Princess Bride" (adapted from his own novel), "Misery", "Year of the Comet", "Chaplin", "Maverick" and "The Ghost and the Darkness". Goldman was inspired to take up screenwriting after buying a book about the profession in an all-night Times Square book shop. His first novel to be adapted for the screen was "Soldier in the Rain", though the screenplay was written by Blake Edwards and Maurice Richlin. Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", a scathing look at the film industry, is still widely-read. He famously wrote of his conclusion about competence among studio executives: "Nobody knows anything". Goldman's brother James, was also an Oscar winner, having written the play "The Lion in Winter" for which he received the award for Adapted Screenplay. Even if you've never heard of Goldman, you're familiar with some of his dialogue which has become ingrained in popular culture. The Washington Post provides examples. Click here to read.
Stan Lee, the man who transformed Marvel Comics into an entertainment phenomenon, has passed away at age 95. Lee, along with superb artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, introduced a line of super hero characters that were the antithesis of the popular heroes in rival D.C. Comics. Lee's characters, such as Spiderman, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four, were somewhat grounded in reality. They protagonists had plenty of human flaws, insecurities and resentments. In his WWII comic book "Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos" (the main character of which is better known today as Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D), Lee broke new ground by making the commando squad integrated with a black soldier as well as a Jewish member of the unit. The series dealt realistically with matters of racial intolerance and also featured the unthinkable: the deaths of beloved characters. Over the decades, Lee became a guiding force that saw screen adaptations of Marvel characters evolve from low-budget, cheesy productions to major studio blockbusters. Click here for more.