I’ve written about some underrated and/or neglected movie directors like John Carpenter, Bob Fosse and Orson Welles before, but when I put my latest Neglected Cinema column to bed, I realized that there were many other directors who haven’t gotten a proper appreciation by the general public… directors who need some “love,” as it were. Hence, this look at some neglected directors and their work. Let’s start with one of my favorites:
Who? You may not be familiar with his name, but you have undoubtedly seen at least one of his films. Papillon. The Boys From Brazil. Patton. Planet of the Apes. Schaffner directed all of them, as well as ten other films in his quarter-century career. He was the poor-man’s David Lean, the “go-to” guy when you wanted an authentic big-screen epic. He made great films, and wisely used the great Jerry Goldsmith to score half the films he directed. He died in 1989.
George Roy Hill
Like Schaffner, George Roy Hill also directed only 14 films, but what a great filmography: musicals like Thoroughly Modern Millie, dark comedies like Slap Shot and The World According to Garp, and the two films that put Paul Newman and Robert Redford together: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. Classics all, and George Roy Hill’s efforts in pulling them together are underappreciated and he deserves greater attention and respect. Hill died in 2002.
Australian filmmaker Peter Weir has done some great work, and is best known for his movies Witness, Dead Poets Society and The Year of Living Dangerously (one of my wife’s favorite movies). He also directed the film that gave us the best performance of Harrison Ford’s career, The Mosquito Coast. I’ll have more to say about that and his movie Master and Commander when I revisit then in future Neglected Cinema columns.
A remarkable British director, Powell had two genuine masterpieces: The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus… films that he made consecutively, in 1947 and 1948. He was incredibly influential, and his 1960 horror film Peeping Tom predated Psycho by three months (Psycho was hugely successful, but Peeping Tom almost ended Powell’s directing career). Powell passed away in 1990.
Director of many 1950s SF and horror films, Arnold elevated the genre by producing smart movies with tight writing and cutting-edge special effects. Among his films were The Incredible Shrinking Man, Tarantula and Creature from the Black Lagoon. He also directed the underrated Peter Sellers comedy The Mouse that Roared. He went on to a successful and prolific career directing in television and died in 1992.