RARA-AVIS: Richard Fleischer

Etienne Borgers (freeweb@rocketmail.com)
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 18:28:35 -0700 (PDT)

I agree with your appreciation of Richard Fleischer as a unjustly forgotten film director. Most of his best films are way underrated! As you will remember I introduced here the film
'Soylent Green' as one of the remarkable SF films having HB/Noir heavy influence. And I agree it's a masterpiece of the genre. When possible this one should be seen in a theater, because of at least one sequence that loses its impact on a TV monitor. Fleischer was a director whose name in the credits of a film was a sufficient justification for me to go to the movie theater. Many years ago...
  Fleischer directed a majority of top films in practically all of the Hollywood genres. He had some misses, of course, but IMO not enough to dismiss him from recognition. He is one of the valuable American film creators.

If you look for additional good films by Fleischer, do not miss: The Narrow Margin-1952(HB/Noir crime) The New Centurions-1972 (HB/Noir crime) Bandido -1956 (HB adventure/Western)

There are more.

And I agree also with your appreciation for his memoirs:
'Just Tell Me when to Cry' I read last year. A must for cinema aficionados. Full of interesting details. One regret: he does not comment about the make of all of his major films

Robert Aldrich is certainly one of the great American directors, and he really innovated in a few film genres, Noir being on top of the list. But also in Western: Vera Cruz, and certainly also in war film like Attack. Maybe that's the difference when compared to Fleischer, Aldrich was more innovative (at the time) and tried to renovate genre films. But this said, it does not diminish Fleischer's qualities.

Another unjustly forgotten director of great talent is Franklin J Schaffner, that had also some HB/Noir influenced films. His top one remaining, IMO, Planet of the Apes
(1968), another classic of SF film.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6384

Terrill Lankford wrote:

{quote} And there was a lot of discussion going on about Richard Fleischer and his movies at the exact same time they were running a week-long retrospective of his work at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood. Fleischer appeared every night and many luminaries he worked with dropped in and spoke to the audience as well.

I could only go one night. They had a double feature of FANTASTIC VOYAGE and SOYLENT GREEN. They were both terrific. Fleischer looks heathy for 80+ and was very sharp, very funny when he spoke.


The print of SOYLENT GREEN was freshly struck by Warner's
(who owns the rights to MGM's library courtesy of Ted Turner) and it was beautiful. Hopefully they will play it around the country at colleges and special screenings. SOYLENT GREEN is a practically forgotten classic. It's every bit as visionary, in its own way, as BLADE RUNNER was eight years later and probably more important.

Fleischer may well be the undiscovered king of Hard Boiled films
(although Robert Aldrich probably has him beat). Even in films such as FANTASTIC VOYAGE, THE VIKINGS and SOYLENT GREEN the prevailing attitude and atmosphere is Hard Boiled. I am going to seek out his older, more obscure work. His book, JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY, was remaindered a few years ago. Buy it if you can. It's fascinating reading.


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