For many moviegoers, Richard Attenborough will be best remembered as an avuncular, white-bearded presence in films such as "Jurassic Park" and "Miracle on 34th Street." But the late British actor and director, who died Sunday at age 90, had a long and diverse career both in front of and behind the camera.
Here are six of his notable works.
"Brighton Rock" (1947): One of Attenborough's early breakout roles came in John Boulting's noir thriller adapted from the Graham Greene novel of the same name. He played Pinkie Brown, a psychopathic young gang leader who uses a waitress as an alibi for murder.
Attenborough had previously played Pinkie in a London stage production that Greene detested, but the actor ultimately impressed the author with his screen performance.
"The Angry Silence" (1960): Dissatisfied with the character roles he was being offered in the '50s, Attenborough co-founded the independent production company Beaver Films with actor-screenwriter Bryan Forbes in 1959. Their first movie was 1960's "The Angry Silence," a gritty British New Wave drama starring Attenborough as a hard-working machine operator who gets caught up in a power struggle between factory management and union agitators. Although controversial for its politics, the film went on to be critical and box-office success.
"Oh! What a Lovely War" (1969): Attenborough made his directorial debut on this musical satire of World War I, based on the stage musical of the same name (which had in turn originated from a radio play). With a distinguished cast of British actors including Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Jon Gielgud and Maggie Smith, the film comprised a series of wartime vignettes seen through the eyes of a working-class family. "Lovely War" was a hit in the U.K. and set Attenborough on a successful directing path.
"Gandhi" (1982): Attenborough reached the pinnacle of his filmmaking career with his biopic about Mohandas Gandhi, the nonviolent spiritual and political leader of India's fight for independence. A passion project of Attenborough's for 20 years, "Gandhi" won eight Academy Awards, including best picture and best director for Attenborough and best actor for Ben Kingsley. "Gandhi" was one of numerous films Attenborough made about historical figures, including …
"Chaplin" (1992): If Attenborough never duplicated the sensational success of "Gandhi," he did prove himself to be a quintessential actors' director, guiding three more thespians after Kingsley to Oscar nominations. One was Robert Downey Jr., who memorably portrayed Charlie Chaplin in a film that was otherwise knocked for being glossy and overwrought. (Attenborough also directed Denzel Washington and Debra Winger to Oscar noms, for "Cry Freedom" and "Shadowlands.")
"Jurassic Park" (1993): For what may have been his most famous on-screen role, Attenborough acted for Steven Spielberg, the young filmmaker he beat out at the 1982 Academy Awards as "Gandhi" triumphed over "E.T." in numerous categories. In "Jurassic Park," Attenborough played John Hammond, the starry-eyed billionaire entrepreneur who dreams of opening a theme park with dinosaurs resurrected via cutting-edge cloning. The film was an international hit, becoming the highest-grossing film released worldwide at the time. It also garnered excellent reviews and won three Oscars.
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