Monday, January 10, 2011

Peter Yates R.I.P.

British director Peter Yates died yesterday at the age of 81. He took on a lot of projects as a director-for-hire, but he had a great eye for the landscape of American towns and cities and his best films combined that eye with rich characters and storytelling. He's probably most famous for creating one of the best car chases in film history in 1968's Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. It's a good movie, and a great car chase, but my two favorite Yates films are 1979's Breaking Away, a comedy/drama about four working-class friends (Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Haley) drifting through the post-high school years in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, a college town where the divide between the students and the townies is sharp, and 1973's The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The latter is my favorite Yates film, a dark modern noir starring Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, and Richard Jordan. It's a bleak, tough, sad, lyrical crime film that makes excellent use of its Boston location. If you're a Robert Mitchum fan and you haven't seen it yet, rent it now. Hilariously, Yates also directed Krull.


karen said...

breaking away is one of my favorites ever. sometimes i want to say "no more eenies in this house!" or something but i don't think anyone else will understand.

Plop Blop said...

I love Breaking Away too. I'll have to check out that Robert Mitchum movie.

It's really weird, but I was actually thinking about Krull this morning. I don't even remember why. I think something reminded me of that boomerang, ninja-star thing the main character uses. There was a long period of time when I wasn't sure whether Krull was an actual movie or something I made up in my head.

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