Michael Winner Dead at Age 77

Posted by at 9:54 am on January 21, 2013

michael-winnerFilmmaker and writer Michael Winner has passed away at the age of 77. The director was best known for his work on the “Death Wish”“The Mechanic” and horror film “The Sentinel.” He’d been suffering from a disease of the liver for some time, and had been given eighteen months to live last year.

Winner was born in Hampstead, London, and became involved in showbiz at an early age, writing a gossip column at the Kensington Post at the age of 14, and going on to write for the New Musical Express, among others. After studying at Cambridge, he worked as an assistant director at the BBC, before penning 1958 crime thriller “Man With A Gun,” and making his own feature directorial debut on “Shoot To Kill” in 1960. He had increasing success in the UK across the swinging Sixties, with films like the Gilbert & Sullivan adaptation “The Cool Mikado” with comedy star Frankie Howerd, seminal Swinging Sixties picture “I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname” with Oliver Reed (a six-time collaborator with Winner) and Orson Welles, and the well-regarded WW2 comedy “Hannibal Brooks.”

His success saw him brought across the pond, making his Hollywood debut on United Artists’ 1971 Western “Lawman” with Burt Lancaster and Lee J. Cobb. He also directed Marlon Brando in “The Nightcomers” and worked a number of times with Charles Bronson, his other key collaborator, on “The Mechanic” (recently remade with Jason Statham), “Chato’s Land” and ” The Stone Killer.” But their best-known team-up came on 1974’s “Death Wish,” an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Brian Garfield about a mild-mannered architect driven to become a vigilante killer after his wife is killed and daughter raped. The film was an enormous box office hit, eventually spawning four sequels, the first two of which were helmed by Winner (a remake is in the works from director Joe Carnahan).

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