Monday, January 10, 2011

R.I.P. Peter Yates

Peter Yates, the British director who broke into American films died this weekend at the age of 82 after a long illness. What was (is) interesting about Yates is that he would pretty much direct anything. That doesn't mean he wouldn't direct quality movies, because he did, but he was willing to step outside of his comfort zone so often...actually, it seemed like he was comfortable with most genres really, and was interesting because his output was so eclectic. And he happened to have directed some of my favorites.  Just check out some of his movies:

Bullitt (1968)
He had made a couple movies before this but this was definitely the one that made a name for himself in Hollywood with an iconic Steve McQueen and one of the best car chases ever.

The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Not only one of my favorite movies, but also one of the best movies set in and around Boston. It's awesome to see Robert Mitchum go to the Bruins game and cheer for Bobby Orr.

Mother Juggs and Speed (1976)
In the 70's, Yates lightened up a bit with a few comedies, one being this little curio starring Harvey Keitel, Bill Cosby, and Raquel Welch. It actually does deserve a look if you have the time. Particularly if you like the idea of Bill Cosby harassing nuns.

Breaking Away (1979)
Hmmmm, I didn't realize until reading about him that he directed the Peter Benchley adaptation The Deep. But then again, I've never seen it. Anyway, Breaking Away is also really good. A nice take on the coming-of-age story. Because we've pretty much all been there: wanting to grow up and move out of our small towns to see what the world has to offer. I guess it sounds cliched but its really well done.

1983 wasn't the end for Peter Yates, he worked until starting to slow down some in the nineties (He directed Suspect that Dennis Quaid/Cher thriller from 1987) But in 1983, it showed how he would pretty much try anything once. He directed The Dresser  a stately drama about a Shakesperean actor, playe dby Albert Finney, and his assistant. It ended up being nominated for best picture and he for best director, among other nominations.

I've never seen it,  (it's supposed to be good) but I just wanted to put it out there to contrast with his other offering from that same year, the sci-fi cult classic Krull.

Definitely not as stately. I hadn't seen this until a year or two ago, and I watched it on my birthday, a day I took off from work. It really should be seen once, with a crowd if you can do it. It's funny because, I don't know if you can tell in the trailer but it features in it's a cast a young, thin Robbie Coltrane, as well as a young Liam Neeson. It combined sword and sorcery tropes with an outer space setting, plus lazers and even a magical boomerang. Seriously.


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