Friday, 10 August 2012

RIP Mel Stuart

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More sad news in the film world as we mourn the loss of director Mel Stuart, who died of cancer yesterday aged 83.

http://www.globalnews.ca/uploadedImages/Global_News/Entertainment/Mel-stuart.jpg?size=sw380nws
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.

Daniel

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