March 27, 2006


Richard Fleischer (Daily Telegraph, 27/03/2006)

Richard Fleischer, who died on Saturday aged 89, was the Hollywood director responsible for films such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Boston Strangler and Fantastic Voyage.

The film that marked his breakthrough, The Narrow Margin (1952), a low-budget thriller filmed almost entirely in a railroad car, is considered by some critics to be one of the best B movies ever made.

His autobiography, published in 1993, Just Tell Me When to Cry - subtitled "Encounters with the Greats, Near-Greats and Ingrates of Hollywood" - is one of the most absorbing of its kind.

Richard Fleischer was born on December 8 1916. His father was the animator Max Fleischer who, with his brothers Dave and Louis, conceived the Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons and was a rival of Walt Disney's. [...]

A better film, in which Orson Welles gives a bravura court-room performance as a lawyer, was Compulsion, a version of the Loeb-Leopold murder case. Fleischer found Welles easy to work with - and also that "he knew more about directing than you did or anybody did". [...]

Fleischer was undaunted by Dino de Laurentis's proposal for the biblical epic, Barabas, and the result was better than most of that genre, owing something to the surprising presence of Silvana Mangano.

Fleischer's next venture was the memorable Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of scientists are put into a submarine which is reduced to the size of a microbe and injected into the human bloodstream.

Among the intrepid party is Raquel Welch, who dons a diving suit to venture outside the vessel - only to return covered in antibodies that have to be removed.

"No one wanted to be the first to make a grab for one of Raquel's splendid boobs," Fleischer remembered, "so they grabbed everywhere else.

"The result was, when I finally called 'Cut!', a de-antibodied Raquel except for her bosom, which was thickly encrusted with them and looked like a Las Vegas showgirl's rhinestone-bedecked brassiere." [...]

After the thriller The New Centurions (1972) came Soylent Green, with Edward G Robinson, then mortally ill. Set in a hellish, futuristic Manhattan, the film is notable for the scene in which Robinson's character elects to die; it was the last scene he ever shot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2006 6:49 AM

Soylent Green is people, shee!?

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldberg at March 27, 2006 12:10 PM