Monday, April 30, 2018

R.I.P. Michael Anderson (1920-2018)

Michael Anderson
On April 25, 2018, director Michael Anderson passed away at the age of 98 in London, England. Over the course of a career spanning 50 years, he produced a lot of great and powerful cinema ranging from the Best Picture-winning epic Around the World in 80 Days to the 70's sci-fi classic Logan's Run. He was game for any genre, and usually brought his all to making the films as great as possible. His influence continues to be seen in the filmmakers who have taken influence from his work, and his general openness to try anything. He leaves behind an impressive resume, and one that is going to entertain for generations to come.

Anderson was born in London on January 30, 1920. His parents, Lawrence and Beatrice Anderson were actors and his great-aunt Mary was one of the first American Shakesperian actresses. While Michael would follow briefly in his family's footsteps as an actor appearing in small films, including Housemaster in 1938, he would join Elstree Studios in 1938 as an assistant director, three years after becoming a production runner. His filmography that followed was largely in assistant roles for the near future. He would later join the Royal Signal Corps duriing World War II, where he met actor Peter Ustinov. Following this, he would continue to make various movies, including some b-movies as a director.

Following the success of The Dam Busters, which was the highest grossing British film of 1955, he was given the film Around the World in 80 Days following original director John Farrow's leave. The film would go on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture. However, Anderson would be nominated for Best Director but would unfortunately lose. At the time of his death, he was also the old-living nominee in the category's history at 98. This lead to a brief partnership with producer Mike Todd, including a two picture deal that was cut short when Todd died in a plane crash in 1958. 

Beyond that, he continued to be an international director, making films like Shake Hands with the Devil for Pennebaker (Marlon Brando's company). His illustrious filmography at this point let him work with various studios over the years, trying his hand at various genres. In 1988, he would direct The Jeweler's Shop, written by Karol Wojtyla - who had become known as Pope John Paul II. Of his later work, his most memorable is Logan's Run, starring Michael York and a smaller role by Ustinov. His later career would feature largely made-for-TV work with his last credit being The New Adventures of Pinocchio in 1999.

In his autumn years, Anderson would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of Canada. His children, including Michael Jr. and David, would also become filmmakers in their own rights. Still, he left behind an incredible body of work that is unsurpassed. He wasn't afraid to try different genres and also did his best to make exemplary work. His work was massive and will likely be dissected and enjoyed for generations to come. His work explored the wonder and awe of this world, and it makes it so much more interesting to explore on film. He will be missed, though his work lives on. 

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