Monday, 29 November 2010

Hollywood says goodbye to two legends

It is difficult to have a truly brilliant artist leave you but to have two of them do so on the same day is very demanding.

Comic legend Leslie Nielsen passed away on Sunday of complications from pneumonia in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 84. He will be remembered for his roles in the Airplane! and Naked Gun series, even if he actually began his career in the 1950s starring in serious films such as The Poseidon Adventure.

"Airplane!" released thirty years ago created by the team of Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker. It garnered Mr Nielsen the nickname of "The Olivier of spoofs".

Mr Nielsen played an incompetent doctor on a plane wrought with disaster. One of the most famous scenes from the film had him asking a fellow passenger to fly the plane because the pilots had fallen ill.

"Surely you can't be serious," the passenger responded.

"I am serious," the doctor said. "And don't call me Shirley."

After that, Leslie Nielsen worked with the Zucker brothers as the loss-kop detective Frank Drebin on the 1982 television show The Police Squad! The show became a cult favourite even though it was cancelled in its first season. Mr Nielsen took Drebin to the film stage, and had great success doing it. He starred in The Naked Gun (1988), Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult(1994).

He also starred in Wrongfully Accused and Dracula, Dead and Loving It. They were critically panned but that may be because he could just never top the Naked Gun.

It was then sad to hear that director Irvin Kershner passed away earlier today.
He is probably most famous for having directed Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. It has been lauded as the best Star Wars film of the series. It had exceptional special effects, impressive acting and strong scenes between the characters. This is the film that has the line of "Luke, I am your father," in it after all.

He died at the age of 87 his home in Paris after suffering from a long illness, his goddaughter Adriana Santini confirmed to the Associated Foreign Press today.

He also directed Sean Connery in the popular 1983 James Bond film, Never Say Never Again, which saw Sean Connery return to the lead role, after he had said he would "never" play bond again. Science-fiction fan boys will also remember his direction of Robocop II. It may not have been as good as the original but it was definitely miles better than the third one.

He got his start in Hollywood under the auspices of Roger Corman. He also made Stakeout On Dope Street which studied youth trying to trade drugs the John Carpenter written thriller, Eyes Of Laura Mars, and the drama Raid On Entebbe.

Later in his career, he famously said in an interview with Vanity Fair that he lamented that he should have directed one of the Star Wars prequels. Many Star Wars fans who were disappointed by the prequels may have appreciated that.

Born in Philadelphia in 1923, he trained as a musician and photographer before becoming a documentary and then fictional filmmaker.

Alistair Anderson

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