Fun Fridays – Director’s Favourite Films – Joel Schumacher

Hey Film Folks. So it’s time for another Fun FridayFilm Doctor‘s round-up of famous directors’ favourite films, an inspirational send off for the week.


This Fun Friday’s choice is veteran director Joel Schumacher.

Joel has had an eclectic career across four decades in Hollywood. He made his debut behind the lens rather late – at 42 (he spent most of his thirties as a Costume Designer and writing screenplays) – directing Lily Tomlin in The Incredible Shrinking Woman, followed by the seminal 1980s films like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys. With a penchant for thrillers, Joel Schumacher brought to life a few of this genre’s “classics” – Falling Down, Phone Booth, The Number 23, Trespasswhile directing a musical adaptation (The Phantom of the Opera) and a rather flamboyant version of the Batman stories (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) in between.

Ever wondered what Schumacher’s all time favourite cinema masterpieces are? Here’s a list of 5 of them – you can even read his own comments on each choice:

  •  War and Peace (dir. Sergei Bondarchuk, 1967)I’d have to say number one is the Russian War and Peace, which is eight hours long [laughs] and is, I think, the greatest film ever made. Just in scope, and size, and the genius of Sergei Bondarchuk, and the majesty of it. It took 10 years to make, and everyone in it ages the 10 years [they do] in the book. So there are no other actors playing the other people; the children all grow 10 years and so do the older people. That’s pretty amazing in itself. And there was no CGI, so when you see the Battle of 1812 of Borodino it seems like there are just 50,000 soldiers on horseback. It was made by the Russian government, which is why they had access to everything and so much money. ” (J. Schumacher, Oct 2011)
  • Double Indemnity (dir. Billy Wilder, 1944)I would usually say Lawrence of Arabia but I’m sure everyone says Lawrence of Arabia — and it is one of the greatest movies ever made — but I was trying to think of others, and I would have to say a Billy Wilder one. I would say Double Indemnity, only because it’s never been matched. That plot has been copied, you know, a million times, but that was the first. And his dialogue is great. Billy Wilder’s one of my favorite directors. I would like to pick five of his movies but I’ll say Double Indemnity because no-one’s ever matched it.” (J. Schumacher, Oct 2011)
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (dir. Peter Greenaway, 1989) – “…I think that it is, you know, Peter Greenaway’s genius, and it has my favorite actress in the world, Helen Mirren. It also has Michael Gambon, and Tim Roth — I mean, we could go on. The visuals are magnificent. I think it is the consummate piece about the greed of the ’80s. It’s pure theatre and it’s just a visual masterpiece.” (J. Schumacher, Oct 2011)
  • Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott, 1982) –  I saw it the first show, the first day, with a bunch of my friends. I can remember that because it was at the Cinerama dome in Hollywood, and it was on that huge screen with that incredible sound system. I still remember that great Vangelis music. But thatopening — it’s embedded in my mind, that opening, with that scape of the city and its almost Mayan-like temple formation and those fires out of nowhere shooting up. Plus, Sean Young — that interview [with Harrison Ford’s Deckard] is unbelievable. I got a lovely letter from her last year. I worked with her on Cousins. Amazingly, amazingly beautiful. And of course it has the great Harrison Ford, and Edward James Olmos, and we could just go on and on with that movie. Daryl Hannah is great in it. And the doll guy, William Sanderson, who I got to work with on The Client — he played one of Tommy Lee Jones’ posse. One of the great things about my job is that I’ve been able to cast, sometimes, my favorite people.”
  • Apocalypse Now (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) – “Apocalypse Now. I would ordinarily say The Conversation, because it was so ahead of its time, but Apocalypse Now — another masterpiece. Also, a lot of these movies would never be made today. But — I’m leaving out Scorsese, I’m leaving out David Fincher; you know, I’m leaving out some of the great Europeans. I’m leaving out 100, or a 1000 movies that we could talk about […] There are so many other movies we could talk about. There are at least five David Leans. There are at least five Fellinis. Five Viscontis. John Ford. John Huston. Minelli. And Kubrick! I didn’t say Kubrick! I should be thrown out of film for that. It’s really hard.”

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Have a great week!


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