James Collier; Writer, Director of Films With Religious Themes

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James F. Collier, a writer and director of religion-based films, has died at the age of 62.

Collier died Monday of complications after a fall at his Creston, Calif., home, a spokesman for his film distribution company said Thursday.

The filmmaker worked extensively for evangelist Billy Graham’s World Wide Pictures during the late 1950s and the 1960s, writing, assisting producers and finally directing about 50 documentary projects and features.


Collier’s first feature-length assignment was “For Pete’s Sake,” which he wrote and directed in 1965, starring Al Freeman Jr., Pippa Scott and Sam Groom.

Even as an independent filmmaker after 1970, Collier continued his close association with the Graham company until it shut down its studio in 1988. Collier’s work for Graham included the films “The Hiding Place” starring Julie Harris in 1975; “Joni” in 1978 about a quadriplegic girl rebuilding her life; and “The Prodigal” starring Hope Lange in 1982.

His most recent film was “China Cry” which premiered at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood last November and is currently being shown worldwide.

The critically acclaimed film, which Collier wrote and directed, was based on the life of San Jose evangelist Nora Lam’s ordeal as a Christian in Communist China.

“In style and tone it’s old-fashioned, melodramatic and occasionally ponderous,” wrote Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas. “But it is also marked by the solid craftsmanship, unmistakable commitment and genuine spirituality typical of the work of its capable writer-director James F. Collier. . . . “

Collier is survived by his wife, Jean; a son, Kevin, of North Hollywood; his mother, Francis, of Atascadero, two sisters and four grandchildren.


A memorial service is scheduled at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Bel Aire Presbyterian Church, 16221 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. The family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Creston Community Church, Box 61, Creston, Calif. 93432.