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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Lester’

Forthcoming Book – Dark Humor in Films of the 1960s

Friday, May 15th, 2015

I have a new book from Palgrave Pivot this July – pre-order it here now!

As the promotional materials for the book note, “Dark Humor in Films of the 1960s presents six detailed chapters on various topics that relate to genre cinema, concentrating on films and filmmakers whose films offered wide ranging commentary on popular culture. Covering both little and well-known films and filmmakers (Vanishing Point, Marcel Hanoun, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Max Ophüls), Dixon’s writings draw on a multitude of critical, historical, and archival sources to capture the reader’s attention from start to finish.

Wheeler Winston Dixon is the James Ryan Professor of Film Studies, Coordinator of the Film Studies Program, and Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA. He is the author of Death of the Moguls: The End of Classical Hollywood, Streaming: Movies, Media and Instant Access, and Cinema at the Margins and editor, with Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, of the book series Quick Takes: Movies and Popular Culture.”

“Dixon is a first-rate film scholar, critic, and historian, and the qualities he has cultivated and refined over the years are evident in everything from the clarity, lucidity, and liveliness of his prose to the accuracy of his research, the force of his arguments, and the perspicuity of his judgments.” – David Sterritt, Chair, National Society of Film Critics

A short and concise look at some of the films that shaped a decade.

Filmmaking Tips from Richard Lester

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Landon Palmer has some handy bits of advice from director Richard Lester in Film School Rejects.

As Palmer writes, “Any summary of Richard Lester’s career inevitably begins with his helming of A Hard Day’s Night. This is no dubious honor – what was meant to be simply a ‘jukebox musical’ when United Artists got the ball rolling on the project ultimately changed what the rock ‘n’ roll movie could be, and produced a hugely entertaining manic farce of modern celebrity in the process.

But Lester’s career in the 1960s alone is far more diverse than even his two enduringly fun Beatles films would suggest. The American-born Lester unwittingly became a major figure in transforming British cinema during the heyday of ‘Swinging London’ by pursuing radically unconventional means of filmic expression.

Where British exports were previously divided between Sean Connery for the mainstream and kitchen sink realism for the arthouse, Lester’s films catered equally to commercial and discerning audiences by combining experimental styles with lightning-paced, biting humor, like in his Palme d’Or winning The Knack…and How to Get It or his incisive anti-war film How I Won the War.

Lester made waves across the pond as well, between deeply felt dramas like the San Francisco-set Petulia (still one of New Hollywood’s underrated gems) and, in later decades, popcorn films like two Superman sequels and the internationally successful Three Musketeers. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from one of about a dozen people who was at one point referred to as the ‘fifth Beatle.’”

Click here, or on the image above, to read the entire article, with video clips.

The Knack . . . and How to Get It

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Ray Brooks and Rita Tushingham in The Knack

Colin (Michael Crawford, before his days as The Phantom of the Opera), a clueless schoolmaster who owns a posh townhouse in London, is landlord to Tolen (Ray Brooks), a notorious womanizer whose numerous liaisons have become a source of humiliation for Colin. When Tom (Donal Donnelly) shows up, looking for a room, along with Nancy (Rita Tushingham), the stage is set for a battle of the sexes in which Tolen finds himself exposed as something of a fraud, while Colin realizes that he is something more than just a “great steaming nit,” as one of his students rudely calls him.

Sharply directed by Richard Lester, who helmed both A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965) for the Beatles, The Knack . . . and How to Get It employs every editorial trick in the book, including freeze frames, split screen work, reverse motion, slow motion, multiple dissolves and elegantly sculptural black and white cinematography to bring the Swinging London era alive, with a superb jazz score by 60s era composer John Barry, all on a budget of roughly $350,000; the film grossed more than $8,000,000 worldwide.

Based on a play by Ann Jellicoe, and surprise winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, where the film impressed both audiences and critics, The Knack . . . and How to Get It is both a valentine to a lost era, as well as reminder of the joy and insouciance of youth, and a time of innocence, when the world is your playground.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at wdixon1@unl.edu or wheelerwinstondixon.com

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In The National News

National media outlets featured and cited Wheeler Winston Dixon on a number of topics in the past month. Find out more on the website http://newsroom.unl.edu/inthenews/