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

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 10, 2011 at 1:52AM

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.
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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]

This article is related to: Vintage Directors, Peter Yates


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