RIP To A Great Movie Director, John G. Avildsen!
The odds are that, even if the name isn’t familiar, his work will be – RIP to the legendary Director John. G. Avildsen, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81.
Yes, that’s Rocky Balboa behind the Director – oh, and here he is again with Ralph Macchio hanging around as well:
Avildsen directed the original “Karate Kid” movies, but so much more – his most famous work was in 1976, when he won the Best Director for “Rocky”, the tale of Rocky Balboa’s gritty and unlikely transcendence from the streets of South Philadelphia…
Avildsen won the Best Director Oscar, and “Rocky” also won Best Picture as well.
According to the great article about him in The Los Angeles Times:
“In an interview last year, Avildsen told the Baltimore Sun about his initial misgivings about “Rocky”: “When this script came to me from an old friend … I said I had no interest in boxing, I think boxing’s sort of a dumb thing,” he said. “He pleaded and pleaded, so I finally read the thing. And on the second or third page, he’s talking to his turtles, Cuff and Link. I was charmed by it, and I thought it was an excellent character study and a beautiful love story. And I said yes.”
One Of Jack Lemmon’s Greatest Performances!
Avildsen also directed the drama “Save the Tiger” in 1973, which earned Jack Lemmon an Academy Award for best actor.
This film was an intense look at a desperate Executive who torches his own business to save himself from financial ruin…
In an interview with The Times in 2014, Avildsen recalled his encounter with Lemmon:
“When I came to meet him for the first time I had long hair, an extensive beard and blue velvet jeans with daisies on my butt. I explained to him if he chose me to direct the movie, I didn’t want to see him in it. I didn’t want all the mannerisms, all of the things he had grown comfortable with over the years. I wanted to see [the character], not him.”
Another Avildsen film was the black comedy “Neighbors” from 1981 – John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd starred the height of their fame, but reversed roles – Belushi was the timid meek neighbor to the wild Aykroyd. Critic Roger Ebert called “Neighbors” a “truly interesting comedy, an offbeat experiment in hallucinatory black humor. It grows on you.”
Among other Avildsen movies was the smash 80’s hit “The Karate Kid.” He also directed “Lean On Me” with Morgan Freeman.
And yes, Avildsen had a TROMA connection as well! TROMA Founder Lloyd Kaufman worked on the first “Rocky” film and stayed friends with Avildsen…in fact, some of Lloyd’s Super-8 footage was used recently on a “Rocky” Blu-ray release, and Lloyd recorded commentary with the Director and his son!
You can see more here:
RIP to a great Artist!
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