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R.I.P. Peter Yates (1929-2011)

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 10, 2011 1:52 AM
4 Comments
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Some sad news to start your week as four-time Oscar nominated director Peter Yates has died at the age of 82, following a long illness.

Yates graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and got his start in the movie industry as an assistant and assistant director to Tony Richardson. His first film as a director was the Cliff Richards vehicle "Summer Holiday," based on the play "One Way Pendulum" which Yates had directed at the Royal Court. However, it wouldn't be long until he broke out in a big, big way.

If 1967's "Robbery" opened the door to Hollywood, Yates went on to pretty much kick it in with 1968's "Bullitt" starring Steve McQueen. The legendary film features one of the most breathless car chases of all time, winding through the hilly streets of San Francisco and it marked the arrival of Yates in style. He then worked with Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow on the solid drama "John And Mary," Peter O'Toole on the WWII flick "Murphy's War" and delivered two exceedingly cool crime classics: 1972's "The Hot Rock" with Robert Redford (please note the excellent score by Quincy Jones and closing tracking shot) and 1973's "The Friends Of Eddie Coyle" with Robert Mitchum (now available on The Criterion Collection and highly recommended).

Academy recognition would finally come at the close of '70s with Yates earning Best Picture and Best Director nods for "Breaking Away," the coming-of-age tale about a small-town teen obsessed with the Italian cycling team. In 1983, Yates landed a duo of films that couldn't be more different from each other: the cult sci-fi curio "Krull" -- a late stage and ill-advised response by Columbia to the "Star Wars" phenomenon -- and the Oscar-nominated (Best Director, Best Picture) drama "The Dresser" with Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay.


Yates was of the old school, knocking out a new film every year or two and always eager to try a new genre or style. He attracted top tier talent and even if the results were mixed, the films and his work within them were fascinating to watch. [Deadline]

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4 Comments

  • Emily | January 11, 2011 5:50 AMReply

    If you haven't seen Breaking Away, you're not a lover of film.

  • David Hovland | January 11, 2011 2:54 AMReply

    I also think BREAKING AWAY is an excellent film.

    Yates was not only imaginative but had a fine sense of timing.

    He will be missed!

  • cirkusfolk | January 10, 2011 4:46 AMReply

    Breaking Away is one of my favorite films of all-time, and since I live but only an hour South of Bloomington IN., let me say he captured a specific time and place beautifully. Thank you.

  • Gatz | January 10, 2011 4:02 AMReply

    "This quarry hole is mine!"

    Despite what might be considered spotty output, let us remember that
    Yates' 'Breaking Away' is the most American American film of the past forty-plus years (aside from, maybe, Richies' 'The Bad News Bears,' of course) -- a film of great finesse and a pitch-perfect ear for what it means/meant/sounds like to be alive in America today -- and I mean that as high praise.

    RIP Mr. Yates.

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