Peter James Yates
24 July 1929
|Died||9 January 2011 81) (aged|
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
Peter James Yates (24 July 1929– 9 January 2011) was an English film director and producer.
Yates was born in Aldershot, Hampshire.The son of an army officer, he attended Charterhouse School as a boy, graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked for some years as an actor, director and stage manager. He directed plays in London and New York. He also spent two years as racing manager for Stirling Moss and Peter Collins.
In the 1950s he started in the film industry doing odd jobs such as dubbing foreign films and editing documentaries. He eventually became a leading assistant director.
He was an assistant director to Mark Robson on The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), Terence Young on Serious Charge (1959) with Cliff Richard, Terry Bishop on Cover Girl Killer (1959), Guy Hamilton on A Touch of Larceny (1960), Jack Cardiff on Sons and Lovers (1960), Tony Richardson on The Entertainer (1960) and A Taste of Honey (1961), J. Lee Thompson on The Guns of Navarone (1961) and José Quintero on The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961).).
Through the influence of Richardson, he directed Albee's The American Dream and The Death of Bessie Smith at London's Royal Court Theatre.
Yates' first feature as director was Summer Holiday (1963), a "lightweight"vehicle for Cliff Richard. It was the second most popular movie at the British box office in 1963.
Yates had seen the original Royal Court production of N.F. Simpson's play One Way Pendulum and got the job of making the film version released in 1964. It was produced by Michael Deeley. The movie was not widely seen.
During the mid 1960s, Yates directed episodes of television, notably The Saint and Danger Man .
Yates' third feature as director was the heist film Robbery (1967), a fictionalised version of the Great Train Robbery of 1963 starring Stanley Baker and produced by Deeley.
Robbery was a critical success in the US and led to an offer to direct Bullitt (1968), of which Bruce Weber has written, "Mr. Yates's reputation probably rests most securely on Bullitt (1968), his first American film – and indeed, on one particular scene, an extended car chase that instantly became a classic."
Yates later said, "In Hollywood back then, everyone knew a British director couldn't do action, so I think the studio had another motive in letting me come over. I think the reason they let McQueen bring me in was because if they let him have his way, they'd get him out of the studio – and out of their hair – for a while."
Yates moved to New York. "A filmmaker must go where the stories are," he said.
Bullitt was a huge success. Yates signed a contract with the Mirisch Company to make four films over seven years.
Yates followed Bullitt with a romantic comedy, John and Mary (1969) with Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. "I like to change the kind of stories I do," said Yates. "If you're not careful, you get pigeonholed and sooner or later someone better will come along."
In 1970, Yates said he would make Don Quixote with Richard Burton but the project stalled.Instead he did a war film with Peter O'Toole produced by Deeley, Murphy's War (1971).
Yates did another heist film, The Hot Rock (1972), based on a novel by Donald Westlake starring Robert Redford from a William Goldman script. After this he was going to make The Leatherstocking Saga and Jonathan Schwartz's Almost Home but neither was made.
In 1972 he signed a four picture deal with Paramount which was to start with Deadly Edge from a Westlake novel.
Yates stayed with crime with The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) starring Robert Mitchum. He then did two comedies: For Pete's Sake (1974) with Barbra Streisand, and Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976); he produced the latter along with writer Tom Mankiewicz.
Yates had a big commercial success with the adventure film The Deep (1977), where Mankiewicz did some uncredited writing.
Yates used his clout from The Deep to raise finance for Breaking Away (1979), written by Steve Tesich, whose play The Passing Game, Yates had directed in New York. Yates produced and directed the film. Breaking Away was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Film for Yates. It led to a short-lived TV series that Yates also produced.
Yates and Tesich were reunited on the thriller Eyewitness (1981) starring William Hurt.
He tried fantasy with Krull (1983), but it was not a success at the box office.
Yates also produced and directed The Dresser (1983), an adaptation of the Ronald Harwood stage play. The film received seven BAFTA and five Oscar nominations, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film and for Best Direction and the Academy Award for Best Film and for Best Director for Yates. The Dresser was also entered into the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.
Along with Eddie Coyle and Breaking Away, The Dresser was one of Yates' three favourite films.
"I'm ambitious in my own way," said Yates around this time. "I don't crave power. I really wouldn't want to trade places with anyone, not even Steven Spielberg. Look at what power can do to a gifted director like Robert Altman. It isn't necessarily healthy. I just want to make the movies that I want to make and, if by chance a few of them should turn out to be important or influential or successful, well, that would be an accident, wouldn't it?"
Following The Dresser, Yates next four directorial efforts proved to be unsuccessful at the box office: Eleni (1985), written by Tesich; Suspect (1987), a thriller with Cher and Dennis Quaid; The House on Carroll Street (1988), which he also produced; and An Innocent Man (1989) with Tom Selleck.
In the early 1990s, after 18 years in New York, Yates moved to Los Angeles.
He made Year of the Comet (1992), which was a flop despite being based on a William Goldman script, and Roommates (1995).He was an executive producer on Needful Things (1992).
Yates went to Ireland to make The Run of the Country (1995) which he also produced.
In 1997 Yates returned to London. "The work was starting to close down," he admitted. "Firstly, you're supposed to be under 30, if possible. Secondly, I prefer to develop my own projects... There were a lot of teenage films around, which I wasn't right for and didn't feel connected to, and special-effects films of a kind I didn't know enough about. You have to be brought up in a computer-literate generation."
He made Curtain Call (1998) with Michael Caine then made a television film of the Cervantes novel in 2000, with John Lithgow as Don Quixote.
Yates' final film was A Separate Peace (2004)
Yates has two distinct styles: one used for his thriller, action and drama projects which frequently reflects on the principal character's state of alienation with a humanistic perspective and another expressive and sentimental style which focuses on the moral dilemmas of the characters, predominantly seen in his coming-of-age and other dramatic films.
"I think there's probably some truth in the theory that I prefer heroes who fight against adversity and make it through from being the underdog to winning," said Yates.
Yates died from heart failure in London on 9 January 2011. He was 81 years old.
Franklin James Schaffner was an American film, television, and stage director. He won an Academy Award for Best Director for Patton (1970), and is known for the films Planet of the Apes (1968), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). He served as president of the Directors Guild of America between 1987 and 1989.
James Clavell, was an Australian novelist, screenwriter, director, and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Clavell is best known as the author of his Asian Saga novels, a number of which have had television adaptations. Clavell also wrote such screenplays as those for The Fly (1958) and The Great Escape (1963). He directed the popular 1967 film To Sir, with Love for which he also wrote the script.
Albert Finney was an English actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked in the theatre before attaining prominence on screen in the early 1960s, debuting with The Entertainer (1960), directed by Tony Richardson, who had previously directed him in the theatre. He maintained a successful career in theatre, film and television.
Roger William Corman is an American film director, producer, and actor. He has been called "The Pope of Pop Cinema" and is known as a trailblazer in the world of independent film. Many of Corman's films are based on works that have an already-established critical reputation, such as his cycle of low-budget cult films adapted from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
Bullitt is a 1968 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Peter Yates and produced by Philip D'Antoni. The picture stars Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, and Jacqueline Bisset. The screenplay by Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner was based on the 1963 novel Mute Witness, by Robert L. Fish, writing under the pseudonym Robert L. Pike. Lalo Schifrin wrote the original jazz-inspired score.
Murphy's War is an Eastmancolor 1971 Panavision war film starring Peter O'Toole and Siân Phillips. It was directed by Peter Yates, based on the 1969 novel by Max Catto. The cinematography was by Douglas Slocombe.
Sir William Stanley Baker was a Welsh actor and film producer. Known for his rugged appearance and intense, grounded screen persona; he was one of the top British male film stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and later a prolific producer.
Michael Deeley is an Academy Award-winning British film producer known for such motion pictures as The Italian Job (1969), The Deer Hunter (1978), and Blade Runner (1982). He is also a founding member and Honorary President of British Screen Forum.
Robbery is a 1967 British crime film directed by Peter Yates and starring Stanley Baker. The story is a heavily fictionalised version of the 1963 Great Train Robbery. The film was produced by Stanley Baker and Michael Deeley, for Baker's company Oakhurst Productions.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a 1973 American neo-noir crime film directed by Peter Yates, starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle. The screenplay by Paul Monash was adapted from the 1970 novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins.
Peter Collinson was a British film director probably best remembered for directing The Italian Job (1969).
Year of the Comet is a 1992 romantic comedy adventure film directed by Peter Yates and starring Tim Daly, Penelope Ann Miller, and Louis Jourdan in his final film role. The film was written by William Goldman and produced by Alan Brown and Phil Kellogg. The plot concerns the pursuit of the most valuable bottle of wine in history. The title refers to the year it was bottled, 1811, which was known for the Great Comet of 1811, and also as one of the best years in history for European wine.
Where's Jack? is a 1969 film recounting the exploits of notorious 18th-century criminal Jack Sheppard and London "Thief-Taker General" Jonathan Wild.
British Lion Films is a film production and distribution company active under several forms since 1919. Originally known as British Lion Film Corporation Ltd, it went into receivership on 1 June 1954. From 29 January 1955 to 1976 the company was known as British Lion Films Ltd, and was a pure distribution company with a filmography of 232 films. It is still active as a production company, and has produced over 170 films.
Don Quixote is a 2000 television film made by Hallmark Entertainment and distributed by TNT. It was directed by Peter Yates, and the teleplay, by John Mortimer, was adapted from Miguel de Cervantes' classic novel Don Quixote. The film was shown in three parts in Europe but in one installment in the U.S.
Eyewitness is a 1981 American neo-noir thriller film produced and directed by Peter Yates and written by Steve Tesich. It stars William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, and James Woods. The story involves a television news reporter and a janitor who team up to solve a murder.
One Way Pendulum is a 1965 British comedy film directed by Peter Yates and starring Eric Sykes and George Cole. It is an adaptation of the play by N. F. Simpson.
Frank P. Keller was an American film and television editor with 24 feature film credits from 1958 - 1977. He is noted for the series of films he edited with director Peter Yates, for his four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing ("Oscars"), and for the "revolutionary" car chase sequence in the film Bullitt (1968) that likely won him the editing Oscar.
Reginald Beck was a British film editor with forty-nine credits from 1932 to 1985. He is noted primarily for films done with Laurence Olivier in the 1940s and with Joseph Losey in the 1960s and 1970s.
Alan Trustman is an American lawyer, screenwriter, pari-mutuel operator and currency trader. He is best known for writing the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, and They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!, in his movie career.