JOHN SCHLESINGER

John Schlesinger was born in London, England in 1926. He went to Oxford, and while there he made a short film "Black Legend" in 1948. He mostly worked as an actor in the 1950s but in 1958 he started making documentaries for the BBC. In 1960, he made a documentary "Terminus" (about the Waterloo railway station), which won him a British Academy Award. In 1962, he made A Kind of Loving (starring Alan Bates) and in 1963 Billy Liar (starring Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie in a small role) and both of these fine movies were well received. He followed with Darling in 1965 (starring Christie as a model who sleeps her way to the top), and in 1967 he made Far from the Madding Crowd, starring Christie, Bates, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp, and the movie was not successful on its first release, but many (including myself) consider it a wonderful movie! He went to America to make Midnight Cowboy, and this beautiful movie won the Best Picture Oscar, even though it was at first X-rated. He returned to England and made Sunday Bloody Sunday, a very unusual romantic bi-sexual love triangle about a man and a woman in love with the same man! It stars Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson and Murray Head. Schlesinger did not do much the next few years, directing one of the segments of Visions of Eight. He returned in 1975 with the ultra-depressing The Day of the Locust. The following year he made the thriller, Marathon Man. He had originally wanted Al Pacino for the lead, but producer Robert Evans (who intensely disliked Pacino) refused and Dustin Hoffman was cast. Also in the movie were Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider, and I think the movie is one of the best ever of its kind (it is the movie with the memorable "Is it safe" scene which is a must viewing before any visit to the dentist). Schlesinger seemed to lose his way after this long string of excellent movies. He made 14 more movies (some for TV) but none came close to matching his earlier successes, and a few were downright embarrassing. But at the height of his career he made some of the most interesting movies ever made (and many of the top actors of his time returned to work with him over and over), and those movies well illustrate exactly what is most missing in modern movies (excellent scripts that are well acted and directed). Schlesinger passed away in 2003 at the age of 77.
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