Sunday, March 26, 2006

Richard Fleischer, R.I.P.

A career like the one the late director Richard Fleischer had is probably a thing of the past in Hollywood. Decades long, in a range of genres, working with budgets high and low. He was a professional, in every sense of the word.

He’ll no doubt be best remembered for the big-budget extravaganzas 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Fantastic Voyage, and with any luck he’ll be forgiven for big-budget flops like Doctor Doolittle. Soylent Green, the last film in Charlton Heston’s apocalypse trifecta, is largely regarded as a joke now – truth be told, it’s kind of a snooze – but when I was a kid, I revered it. Some part of me still does.

Easily his best work was 1952’s The Narrow Margin, which is everything you want a B-movie to be. I’ve also got to put in a word for an even earlier effort, Follow Me Quietly (1949). It’s a spellbinding little gem about the hunt for a serial killer, featuring one of the creepiest shots I’ve ever seen. It’s so shocking that for a moment, I thought I’d imagined it. You’ll know it when you see it, and you have Fleischer to thank for it.

Miscellaneous: Link

Sometimes, your wildest dreams do come true. Xanadu is becoming a stage musical.