Friday, June 14, 2024

Great British Director Alan Parker Dies At 76, Gave Us “Fame,” “The Commitments,” “Midnight Express,” “Mississippi Burning” and More


You’ll realize what an impression the great British film director Alan Parker made on the culture when I tell you just that he made “Fame,” a buoyant musical hit that gave birth to many top 40 hits and a hit TV series. It put the High School for Music Art Performing Arts on the map and famous all over the world. (Now it’s known as LaGuardia.)

Parker has died at age 76 from a reported long illness. But his legacy lives on with “Midnight Express,” “The Commitments,” “Mississippi Burning” (for which Frances McDormand won her first Oscar), “Bugsy Malone,” and the fine film version of William Wharton’s seminal novel, “Birdy.”

He also directed Madonna in “Evita,” but he’s forgiven. Antonio Banderas, however, was wonderful. Another ambitious project that didn’t quite work was the film version of “Angela’s Ashes,” the great memoir by Frank McCourt. Still worth watching, however.

A kind of lost gem of performances with a Bo Goldman script was “Shoot the Moon,” starring Diane Keaton and Albert Finney in a disintegrating marriage story that predates “Marriage Story” by many generations. It was far more raw and ahead of its time.

Alan Parker was nominated for two Oscars and three Golden Globes. He hadn’t made a film since 2003, so he’d fallen out of the vernacular. But he’s at the very top of all directors lists, and his work will live on. Condolences to his family.




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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