Alan Parker, Director of ‘Bugsy Malone,’ ‘Midnight Express,’ Dies at 76


Alan Parker, the British director whose exceptionally wide-ranging oeuvre ranged from “Bugsy Malone” to “Evita,” from “Midnight Express” to “The Road to Wellville,” has died. He was 76.” data-reactid=”24″>Alan Parker, the British director whose exceptionally wide-ranging oeuvre ranged from “Bugsy Malone” to “Evita,” from “Midnight Express” to “The Road to Wellville,” has died. He was 76.

The British Film Institute confirmed Parker’s demise on Friday, noting he died after an extended sickness.

Parker was twice Oscar-nominated for greatest director, for 1978’s “Midnight Express” and for 1988’s ‘Mississippi Burning.” While the director’s material was eclectic, he did return often to the musical type: His movies “Bugsy Malone,” “Fame,” “Pink Floyd the Wall,” “The Commitments” and “Evita” had been all musicals or had robust musical parts in a single type or one other.

Parker’s first characteristic movie, 1976’s “Bugsy Malone,” made a substantial splash for an audacious idea that labored solely as a result of everybody stored a straight face. The movie was a Depression-era gangster musical forged completely with kids, the oldest maybe 15. These included Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. Instead of bullets, the machine weapons sprayed whipped cream. The New York Times mentioned: “That custard pies can maim and whipped cream should kill are only two of the ways in which some basic laws of the cinema are cheerfully junked in this wildly uneven but imaginative and stylish satire of 1920’s gangster movies. … which also includes a first-rate musical score and choreography, along with a cast of kids.” “Bugsy Malone” was the primary of 5 Parker movies nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or.

However intriguing “Bugsy Malone” proved, it stunned many who the identical director may helm a movie as highly effective as 1978’s “Midnight Express,” the harrowing true-life story of a person, Billy Hayes (performed by Brad Davis), despatched to a nightmarish Turkish jail for smuggling hash. The movie, which competed in Cannes, received the tailored display screen Oscar for Oliver Stone and greatest authentic rating for Giorgio Moroder, and it was nominated for greatest image, director, supporting actor (John Hurt) and movie enhancing. Roger Ebert mentioned: “Parker succeeds in making the prison into a full, real, rounded world, a microcosm of human behavior.”

The movie had such an influence on the tradition that even in the present day a sentence in a Turkish jail is usually invoked rhetorically because the worst potential punishment, whether or not correct or not.

Next, and really far certainly from “Midnight Express,” was the 1980 movie musical “Fame,” the story of the scholars and lecturers at New York’s High School of Performing Arts that received Oscars for authentic music and rating and was nominated for 4 extra. It additionally spawned the hit title music in addition to a TV collection, a stage musical and a 2009 movie remake.

Again altering tone radically, Parker subsequent directed the 1982 Bo Goldman-scripted movie “Shoot the Moon,” in regards to the disintegrating marriage of a pair performed by Albert Finney and Diane Keaton. Finney’s profitable author and Keaton’s earth-mother stay in a farmhouse in Marin County with their 4 small daughters. “Shoot the Moon” additionally competed on the Cannes Film Festival.

“Birdy” (1984), starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage, adopted two mates who return from the Vietnam War. Birdy, performed by Matthew Modine, has at all times been obsessive about birds and flight, however is mentally unstable after the struggle and in a seemingly birdlike state, whereas his good friend Al (Cage), who returns from the struggle with grievous accidents, spends their time collectively in a veterans hospital trying to coax Birdy from his regressive state. Flashbacks depict their comparatively regular friendship previous to the struggle.  “Birdy” landed the Cannes Grand Jury Prize in 1985.

“Angel Heart” (1987), a extremely efficient, atmospheric horror thriller movie starring Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet and Robert De Niro, involved a New York personal detective (Rourke) employed by a mysterious De Niro, who plunges him right into a case that leads Rourke’s detective to the eventual realization that the lacking singer he’s in search of is in actual fact himself — and that he has fairly actually offered his soul to the satan.

Parker adopted “Angel Heart” with “Mississippi Burning,” about two FBI brokers, performed by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, despatched in the course of the 1960s to analyze the homicide of civil rights employees to a Southern city the place they need to one way or the other pierce the conspiracy of silence. Hackman’s character (a former sheriff) is a pragmatist, whereas Dafoe’s the idealist. The movie received an Oscar for cinematography and was nominated for greatest image, director, actor (Hackman), supporting actress (Frances McDormand) in addition to sound and movie enhancing.

The director made one other points image in 1990’s “Come See the Paradise,” which he additionally wrote. The movie explored the injustice achieved to Japanese Americans firstly of World War II, after they had been forcibly interned in camps. Starring Dennis Quaid and Tamyln Tomita, “Come See the Paradise” once more competed at Cannes.

Very totally different certainly was his subsequent movie, “The Commitments,” primarily based on the novel by Irishman Roddy Doyle. Nominated for an Oscar for greatest enhancing, the movie involved a band whose members are drawn from the poorest quarters of North Dublin who resolve they’ll play soul music. Roger Ebert known as it “a loud, rollicking, comic extravaganza” through which the director “introduces a Dickensian gallery of characters, throws them all into the pot, keeps them talking, and makes them sing a lot.” The movie’s enchantment was easy, however its followers had been very enthusiastic.

“The Road to Wellville” (1994) was additionally a comedy — a health-care comedy set firstly of the 20th century, when mainstream medication was nonetheless primitive and there have been due to this fact all types of fellows plying their commerce in keeping with one untested concept or one other. One such significantly odd duck was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who invented the corn flakes and handled individuals at a retreat in Battle Creek, Michigan. Down this rabbit gap go a pair performed by Matthew Broderick and Bridget Fonda.

Madonna in the title role further polarized opinion. The new song Lloyd Webber and Rice wrote for the movie won the Oscar for best song, and the film was Oscar nominated for film editing, sound, cinematography and art direction.” data-reactid=”50″>Unlike Parker’s different musical initiatives, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita” was an already present property, with those that beloved or hated it having shaped their opinion years earlier than Parker put his fingers on the movie adaptation. The casting of Madonna within the title function additional polarized opinion. The new music Lloyd Webber and Rice wrote for the film received the Oscar for greatest music, and the movie was Oscar nominated for movie enhancing, sound, cinematography and artwork route.

Based on Frank McCourt’s bestselling e-book recounting his monumentally tragic childhood in Ireland, Parker’s 1999 adaptation of “Angela’s Ashes” was Oscar-nominated for John Williams’ rating, however critics felt it fell brief as an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Parker’s final movie, “The Live of David Gale,” starring Kevin Spacey, was a thriller that toyed with addressing the problem of capital punishment. Though it performed on the Berlin Film Festival, it didn’t garner the eye of his earlier movies.

Alan William Parker was born in Islington, London. He began his skilled life within the promoting trade, thriving as a high copywriter at London’s Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) advert company within the 1960s and early ’70s. Parker started his movie profession via his association with David Puttnam, a fellow advert man additionally aspiring to make motion pictures who employed Parker to jot down the screenplay for the preteen romance “Melody” (1971). For a time he directed TV commercials and brief movies for the BBC, successful a BAFTA TV Award in 1976 greatest single play for BBC TV film “The Evacuees” (1975).

The similar 12 months Parker made his first film, “Bugsy Malone,” and by no means appeared again.

In 2013 Parker received a prestigious Academy Fellowship from BAFTA. Receiving quite a few nominations through the years, Parker received BAFTAs for the screenplay to “Bugsy Malone,” for route of “Midnight Express” and for greatest movie and route for “The Commitments.”

At Poland’s Camerimage, the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, he shared the cinematographer-director duo award along with his lenser Michael Seresin in 2007, and the next 12 months he received a particular award for for a “director with unique visual sensitivity.” He was additionally a founding member of the Directors’ Guild of Great Britain.

Parker was twice married, the primary time to Annie Inglis from 1966 till their divorce in 1992.

He is survived by second spouse Lisa Moran, who had producing credit on a number of of Parker’s movies; and 4 kids by Inglis, together with sons Alexander Parker and Jake Parker, an orchestrator and composer.

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