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adieu Bob Rafelson

I was saddened to learn of the death of Bob Rafelson.

His movie career as a director was probably more down than up but he can lay claim to be the originator of the Indie in Easy Rider and making the career of one of its then unknown stars, Jack Nicholson.

My favourite Rafelson film was Five Easy Pieces with its memorable ordering scene in the Diner.

Some of his work was poor and he often fell out with studio heads like Lew Wasserman but his legacy is substantial which includes creating the Monkees.

Often a director will not just identify a future star – as Rafelson did with then B-movie actor Jack Nicholson – but shape their  future career: one thinks of Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, Carlo Ponti and Sophia Loren and Bergman and Max von Sydow.

Another fine director John Sturges was the subject of a Sky Arts bio in the week.

The normal contributors – Ian Jarvis, Neil Nathan,  Stephen Armstrong and Bonnie Greer – might have paid more tribute to the score of Elmer Bernstein that made his two best known films The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, the latter of which has sustained many a bank holiday weekend.

Very few directors make more than four enduring films.

Fred Zinnemann, for example, made From Here to Eternity, High Noon, Double Indemnity and A Man for all Seasons but amongst those was the odd “turkey”, so we must acknowledge Rafelson and Sturges for making two.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts