From Entertainment Insiders:
RICHARD FLEISCHER Died Mar. 24, 2006
Oscar-winning producer/director Richard Fleischer died in his sleep at age 89. Mr. Fleischer was best known for directing an impressive list of hit feature films. If you ask me, Richard Fleischer deserved an Oscar as Best Director for a number of his great films.
Dick Fleischer directed the first film I ever saw in a theater: Disney’s 1955 classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." The classic still enthralls audiences.
Dick Fleischer was, in many ways, like the workhorse director Robert Aldrich. Both men turned out consistently entertaining, profitable and critically acclaimed films. However, their names are not the first to pop into your mind when you think of great directors. Of course, their output does testify to the fact of their greatness.
Mr. Fleischer’s film output from the 1950s includes the forgotten classic crime drama "Violent Saturday." The movie dealt with the effects of a bank robbery on a small town. It is a precursor of the tough cop movies of Don Siegel and others during the 60s and 70s. A transitional film from Film Noir to the urban realism of the 70s. Lee Marvin, Victor Mature and Earnest Borgnine are just a few of the many great actors who make this film worth seeing. Mr. Fleischer ended the 1950s with the psychological crime drama "Compulsion." The movie was based on the Leopold-Loeb thrill killing of the 1920s. Orson Welles starred as the attorney based on Clarence Darrow who pleads for the young killer’s lives. This is one of Mr. Fleischer’s most respected works. He was nominated for a BAFTA and DGA Award for his direction. This was Mr. Fleischer’s second DGA nomination. The year before, his work on the Kirk Douglas action/adventure film "The Vikings" was also recognized by his peers with a DGA nod.
In 1971, Mr. Fleischer returned to the true-crime genre. "10 Rillington Place" starred Richard Attenborough as British killer John Reginald Christie. This is an excellent and very true to the facts film. The Christie/Evans killings lead to the abolishment of the death penalty in England. John Hurt starred as the mentally retarded Timothy Evans. Mr. Evans was executed for murdering his wife. When it was discovered several years later, that Evans’ landlord, serial killer John Christie was in fact the real killer the public backlash put an end to the death penalty. Mr. Fleischer’s direction is taut. This was no surprise as Mr. Fleischer was an old hand at directing crime films. What was surprising was the British feel the film had. This considering Mr. Fleischer was a Yank.
Mr. Fleischer directed three very different films in 1971. His follow-up to "10 Rillington Place" was the "The Last Run." This is a difficult movie to find. It is however, well worth the effort to track down. The movie starred George C. Scott and his then wife Colleen Dewhurst, future wife Trish Van Devere along with Tony Musante. "The Last Run" is a crime film with a much deeper edge than one might expect. I’ve always thought it would make a great double feature with Walter Hill’s Zen crime film "The Driver." Dick Fleischer’s third film from 1971 was the hit psycho horror film "See No Evil." Mia Farrow starred as a blind woman stalked by a cowboy-boot wearing psycho killer. Fleischer chose not to show the killer, other than his boots. The choice enhanced the suspense level of the film.
Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson starred in the futuristic mystery "Soylent Green". And remember… Soylent Green is…! Sorry, no spoilers, even in the obits. Mr. Fleischer finished out the 70s with several notable and notorious films. "Mr. Majestyk" was a Charles Bronson thriller with an evil Al Lettieri in support.
Mr. Fleischer’s other film credits include the Neil Diamond version of "The Jazz Singer," "Conan the Destroyer," "The Spikes Gang," "The Don is Dead," "Red Sonja" and "Amityville 3-D." Mr. Fleischer was the son of pioneering animator Max Fleischer.
No mention of CRACK IN THE MIRROR (1960) in this obit. I love this movie, but many seem to feel that it's a bomb. Welles gave two of his best acting performances as a slobby construction worker and a sleek attorney.
Welles also narrated Fleischer's THE VIKINGS.