William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director who came a top filmmaker in his 30s with the gripping” The French Connection” and the horrifying” The Exorcist” and plodded in the following decades to match his early success has failed. He was 87.
Friedkin, who won the stylish director Oscar for” The French Connection,” failed Monday in Los Angeles, Marcia Franklin, his administrative adjunct for 24 times, told The Associated Press on behalf of his family and woman former plant head Sherry Lansing.
” The French Connection,” grounded on a true story, deals with the sweat of counterculturist New York City police Detective James” Popeye” Doyle to track down Frenchman Fernando Rey, architect of a large medicine channel canalizing heroin into the United States. It contains one of the most thrilling chase scenes ever mugged.
Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in an Oscar-winning performance, slightly misses making the arrest on a shelter train, and also hurries to his police auto to follow the train as it emerges on an elevated road. He races under, dodging buses, exchanges, and climbers, including a woman pushing a baby perambulator before abandoning the pursuit.
The movie also won Academy Awards for stylish picture, script and film editing and led critics to hail Friedkin, also just 32, as a leading member of a new generation of filmmakers.
He followed with an indeed bigger blockbuster,” The Exorcist,” grounded on William Peter Blatty’s best-dealing new about a 12- time-old girl held by the devil.
The harrowing scenes of the girl’s possession and a splendid cast, including Linda Blair as the girl, Ellen Burstyn as her mama and Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller as the preachers who try to cashier the devil from her, helped make the film a box- office sensation. It was so scary for its period that numerous observers fled the theater before it was over and some reported being unfit to sleep for days subsequently.
It entered 10 Oscar nominations, including one for Friedkin as director, and won two, for Blatty’s script and for sound.
With that alternate success, Friedkin would go on to direct pictures and television shows well into the 21st century. But he’d no way again come near to matching the success of that early workshop.
Other film credits included” To Live and Die inL.A., “Cruising,” Rules of Engagement” and a television remake of the classic play and Sidney Lumet movie” 12 Angry Men.” Friedkin also directed occurrences for similar television shows as” The Twilight Zone,” revolutionary trace” and” CSI Crime Scene Investigation.”
Born in Chicago on Aug. 29, 1939, he began working in original television products as a teenager. By age 16 he was directing live shows.
” My main influence was dramatic radio when I was a sprat,” he said in a 2001 interview.” I flash back harkening to it in the dark, Everything was left to the imagination. It was just sound. I suppose of the sounds first and also the images.”
He moved from live shows to pictures, making” The People Versus Paul Crump,” in 1962. It was the story of a captivity capture who rehabilitates himself on Death Row after being doomed for the murder of a guard during a muffed thievery at a Chicago food factory.
Patron David Wolper was so impressed with it that he brought Friedkin to Hollywood to direct network television shows.
After working on similar shows as” The Bold Bones,” The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and the talkie” The Thin Blue Line,” Friedkin landed his first film, 1967’s” Good Times.” It was an unconcerned musical comedy rollick headlined by the pop brace Sonny and Cher in what would be their only movie appearance together.
He followed that with” The Night They Raided Minsky’s,” about confidential life at a burlesque theater, and” The Birthday Party,” from a Harold Pinter play. He also gained critical attention with 1970’s” The Boys in the Band,” a corner film about gay men.
Friedkin had three brief marriages in the 1970s and’80s, to French actress Jeanne Moreau; British actress Lesley- Anne Down, with whom he’d a son; and longtime Los Angeles television news anchor Kelly Lange. In 1991 he married Paramount plant superintendent Lansing.