If any single director can encapsulate the popular image of Britain in the Swinging Sixties, then it is probably Richard Lester. With his use of flamboyant cinematic devices and liking for zany humour, he captured the vitality, and sometimes the triviality, of the period more vividly than any other director. This has been somewhat to the detriment of his later work which, whilst more conventional in style, has qualities which have been overshadowed by his fashionable earlier output.
Lester was born in Philadelphia, USA, on 19 January 1932. After graduating in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, he began his career in American television as a stagehand, rising to become a director at just 20. He left for Europe in 1954, settling in Britain in 1956.
His sympathy for anarchic comedy made him an ideal director for the television series A Show Called Fred (ITV, 1956), where he worked with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. He teamed up with them again for… read more
It's depressing to think, but there could have been a great movie in Superman II. Yet, due to typical studio politics of the 70s, we are given this movie instead. It's even harder to believe anyone would find Marlon Brando's work unworthy of any movie. Donner really deserves the credit for 70% of what works in the film, while Lester deserves the 30% that doesn't. So on the basis of Donner's work I still recommend it.
After seeing the Richard Donner cut.. In all honesty, Donner shot this poorly from the outset. Superman, a COMEDY. Really.. Well, in that case, it makes sense to bring in a comedy director to save the production. Enter Richard Lester. I don't blame Mario Puzo. Something very transgressive and interesting could have been wrung from this script.