RIP Mel Stuart

More sad news in the film world as we mourn the loss of director Mel Stuart, who died of cancer yesterday aged 83.
Mel Stuart may not be very widely known among film fans, since the vast majority of his work was on TV. In a career spanning five decades, he directed documentaries on a wide variety of subjects, including profiles of Billy Wilder and Sophia Loren and a 25th anniversary look at the James Bond series. He also appeared in With Great Power, a documentary about comic book legend Stan Lee, and was involved in some form on Gonzo: The Life and Times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. But he's best remembered for helming Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which remains one of the most popular and well-loved Roald Dahl adaptations.
I did a post on Willy Wonka back in April (here), in which I laid out my reservations about the film compared to the Tim Burton version. And while I stand by my views, which I fleshed out more in the comments section, now is not the time for sour grapes. Regardless of my opinions, Stuart's version did capture the public imagination. Making people like a film is difficult enough, letting along making a film that is held up as a classic.

If you want to honour Mel's memory, go and rent Willy Wonka on DVD. I won't mind, and neither will he.