I saw Midnight Cowboy yesterday and found it absolutely amazing and I love Marathon Man, but I haven’t heard of a lot about his other films (except maybe Sunday Bloody Sunday). Are there any other films by him that are worth watching? Thanks…
The Day of the Locust (as relevant as ever in light of Michael Jackson’s funeral) and An Englishman Abroad.
Far From the Madding Crowd is lovely. And Bily Liar and Darling are key filsm of the 60’s.
The Believers is fun. From his later work.
David, what do you think of “The Next Best Thing”?
Equating the Jackson event with “The Day Of The Locusts” certainly puts a point on the whole spectacle. So many want to participate in this tragedy and be defined by this moment. Are they so woefully incomplete? Where would their grief go if it weren’t for 24 hour cable?
“The Next Best Thing” is an unfortunate last bow. Rupert Everett has blamed himself for it all (taking responsibility for once.) There’s a nice scene with Neil Patrick Harris, but that’s about it.
I love Marathon Man! One of my favorite movies from the 70s and an often forgotten gem.
My favorite of all of his films is something he did for television—“An Englishman Abroad,” with Alan Bates. They never show it but it is perfection.
Cold Comfort Farm (TV film)
Far from the Madding Crowd
Happy to see some appreciation here for LOCUST, a film that was savagely reviewed (& I suspect misunbderstood) when it came out & which I hadn’t known had gained some adherents in the meantime.
Great director. Billy Liar & Darling are two of my favorites from the 60s and I like a lot of Far from the Madding Crowd (Schlesinger surely did not shy away from daunting material) …Day of the Locust is excellent with Schlesinger managing to get what is arguably the best performance of her career out of Karen Black.
Midnight Cowboys & Sunday, Bloody Sunday are his masterpieces. Not only is his direction perfect, the scripts for those two films are exceptional. Not sure if Penelope Gilliatt actually wrote SBS, but it’s full of great dialog and the performance by Peter Finch is amazing.
And then there’s Marathon Man, The Falcon & the Snowman and Pacific Heights. Really entertaining movies.
This is, of course, only my opinion!
He did Pacific Heights? Yeah that movie is crazy!
Just as Jaws kept me out of the ocean, Pacific Heights will keep me from ever becoming a landlord.
The Day of the Locust is one of those sadly forgotten titles. I taught it a few years ago in a 1970s American Cinema class, and while most found it good, it wasn’t found to be on the same level as the rest of the stuff we screened. Still, it’s very well done.
I view Darling as a nifty time capsule. And the eternally beautiful Julie.
@JASPAR LAMAR CRABB – Penelope Gilliatt taught me screenwriting in college. Tough old bird, she was.
Such a wildly uneven career. As an auteur, he’s problematic. His films are indiscernible. It’d be difficult to understand how there’s one creator behind all of them. Even considering his great films, it’s hard to find a unifying vision (or even a unifying style or a unifying anything) behind Darling, Billy Liar, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man. That’s not necessarily a problem but it’s hard to believe that the same person who made such great films could also make such crap as Honky Tonk Freeway or Eye for an Eye ( I never did see The Next Big Thing but that must’ve been a tragic film to die on).
I do think with his “great” films…perhaps he brought a sense of documentary realism to them? (I believe his first film was a doc)
I can’t think of Midnight Cowboy without Ratso and Joe Buck walking the streets of New York. Or Hoffman jogging in Marathon Man. Or the “working class” environments of Billy Liar. Even in Pacific Heights…San Francisco emerges as a character.
I’m not sure Billy Liar or Pacific Heights or Marathon Man could be considered documentary realism though in any sense that I understand the term. All his films do seem to mix a weird blend of cynicism and sentimentality though. Maybe that’s the unique stamp running through them.
Not documentary realism. I meant…using real locations. Grounding the movies in that way. The stories, of course, are far from “realism”.
Schlesinger’s nightmare vision of “The Day of the Locust” is far and away my favorite from his uneven body of work, and perhaps my favorite film of all-time. While it plays liberally with Nathanael West’s classic tome, the film captures the essence of the novel perfectly and stand alongside it as high art. Quite frankly, there isn’t another movie out there that looks and feels the way that “Locust” does.
Unjustly skewered by the critics and shunned by the public, “The Day of the Locust” deserves a serious second look, and the opportunity to be regarded by the world as the great piece of cinema that it is.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday is my favourite largely because of it quiet precision and insight. You can almost smell the early seventies in this multi-textured depiction of middle class life in London, so clear and confident is this film in its subject matter.
I think Glenda Jackson’s career is now unfairly overlooked – a little like this film – but this ranks as one of her most finely judged performances, full of barely contained frustration and compromise.
Another Schlesinger gem is the short documentary film, Terminus, about Waterloo station. If you can find it, savour it, for its verite point-of-view and depiction of the small details in people’s lives (interesting companion piece to SBS).
Darling is so underrated.
The Day of the Locust is terribly overlooked. Brilliant movie based on a brilliant book by Nathanael West. Donald Sutherland has a pretty magical performance, and the climactic scene of the movie is perhaps the best moment of screen adaptation I’ve ever witnessed.
When I was younger, I had always seen MARATHON MAN on shelves at rental stores or used DVD shops but dismissed it as some piece of crap that is only on DVD because Dustin Hoffman is in it. I watched it for the first time last night, after two or three years of hearing how great it was, and I was blown away. It definitely made my “top 10 of the 70’s” list.
How do you guys feel about Marathon Man, specifically? I really loved. Definitely underrated and overlooked by the modern movie-goers of this generation.
“An Englishman Abroad” is Schlesinger’s masterpiece. Alan Bates gives a great performance and I wish I could get a copy of this film.
>>Sunday, Bloody Sunday is my favourite largely because of it quiet precision and insight.<<
And as an answer to Ari, I think this is the unifying element of Schlesinger’s ouevre. The quiet precision and insight into his characters. Subject matter is decidedly all over the map, perhaps & the films are stylistically very different (but appropriate to the characters and/or their mileau). Another consistency to his work: the characters are usually, well, to be unkind about it, losers.
For me, Schlesinger’s 60’s films (to the early 70’s) were all his best work from A Kind of Loving (1962), Billy Liar, Darling, Far from the Madding Crowd, Midnight Cowboy, to Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). During this period, he has a visually imaginative look and feel to his films, and his editing was very creative. I view both Billy Liar and Midnight Cowboy as masterpieces. They are personal favorites, too, which I never tire of viewing.
His films from this period are not only good to look at, but featured fine acting, carefully crafted stories, inventive filming, and stayed true to his vision. Yes, he can capture something in the smallest detail. With Losey, Tony Richardson, and a handful of others, he helped to define and re-invent English language cinema in this very creative period. It never got any better than this.
Schlesinger really lost it after Day Of The Locust but for a spell had an extraordinary run of films which all to my mind are modern classics. It seems that Schlesinger seemed to benefit greatly from that golden period in the 60’s and 70’s because his films after Locust are just not of the same calibre, they are messy and unfocused, perhaps he had personal problems but probably more so, that changing of the guard, post Star Wars, created works which just aren’t worthy of recommendation, Yanks, Honky Tonk Freeway, Pacific Heights, they just aren’t as good and its kind a sad that his final film was The Next Best Thing with Madonna, a turgid piece of celluloid ever there was one. I just hope he was around long enough to enjoy the paycheck!
But, I will always associate his name with Billy Liar, Darling, Far From The Madding Crowd, Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Marathon Man and Day of the Locust. All classics. Each one iconic in its own right and for these I think he should be remembered and recommended.