April 23, 2014

Directors

Peter Collinson (1936-1980) b. Lincolnshire, England.

Peter Collinson

The Italian Job (1969), an amusing caper comedy about a mastermind (Noel Coward) who organises a huge gold bullion robbery while still serving a prison sentence, was Collinson’s most successful commercial film, although its popularity owed much to a spectacular car chase sequence actually staged by second-unit director Phillip Wrestler. Collinson subsequently developed a frenetic, all-stops-out style of filmmaking as, without the benefits that studio control might have brought him, the dangers signalled in the earlier films were allowed to develop unchecked into full-scale deficiencies. These were particularly apparent in the chillers he made, although at least Fright (1971) and Straight on Till Morning (1972), both greatly aided by the bravura performances of their female leads, Susan George and Rita Tushingham respectively, never let up. But his two remakes of 1945 suspense classics, And Then There were None (1974) and The Spiral Staircase (1975), are flatly done, with all the tension of worn-out elastic. He hit an all-time low with two films involving Oliver Reed, The Sell Out (1976), Tomorrow Never Comes (1978), the former of which contains a car sequence somewhat after the one in The Italian Job; then alas, the only object seems to be to aim the vehicle at every object in sight on the pavement. The intricacies of The House on Garibaldi Street (1979) gave some evidence of hope for a more caring director; but then cancer killed him at 44.



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