Famed director Michael Winner has passed away. He was 77.
Winner began his career in the 1950s, working for the BBC and low-budget filmmakers. He wrote screenplays and fulfilled various functions behind the scenes. His first few films as director were low-budget thrillers, musicals and even the occasional nudie cutie. The success of films such as SHOOT TO KILL, SOME LIKE IT COOL and PLAY IT COOL guaranteed him steady work. These led to more notable British films such as the Frankie Howerd film THE COOL MIKADO, WEST 11 with Diana Dors (above) and the Oliver Reed-led THE GIRL GETTERS.
Winner blasted his way onto American screens as well with LAWMAN, a non-traditional western starring Burt Lancaster. His next big film was THE NIGHTCOMERS, the controversial Marlon Brando-led prequel to THE INNOCENTS.
In the 1970s, Winner began a long collaboration with actor Charles Bronson with films like CHATO’S LAND, THE STONE KILLER and THE MECHANIC. This culminated in the 1970s with the iconic action classic, DEATH WISH. In the 1980s, the heads of the Cannon Group, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, would be sure to reunite the two for DEATH WISH 2 and 3. Cannon liked his work and virtually all his work from the 1980s onward was done for Golan and Globus.
In between these two booming periods, Winner found time to direct the cult horror oddity, THE SENTINEL, which still has a following today.
Winner had not directed a feature in fifteen years, but that doesn’t mean he was not active. He was a supporter of law enforcement and was responsible for various memorials erected for fallen law enforcement officers. He also became known for his somewhat scathing restaurant reviews and for various works in television, both in front of and behind the camera. He was a conservative but also supported progressive causes such as same sex marriage.
Winner’s health had been declining steadily for years, stemming originally from infections caused by his culinary exploits. He passed away in Kensington on January 21, 2013.