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John Schlesinger

John Schlesinger

John Schlesinger was already an award-winning director in his native England when he made his American film debut with Midnight Cowboy, for which he won an Oscar, a British Academy Award and the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director.

Schlesinger's most recent feature film was Eye for an Eye for Paramount Pictures, and he recently directed The Tales of Sweeney Todd for television. Born in London, Schlesinger started out as an actor before creating his own short films for the BBC. Among his earliest work was the documentary Terminus, which won numerous awards, including the Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival and the British Academy Award.

Schlesinger made his feature film directorial debut with A Kind of Loving, starring Alan Bates, which earned the Golden Bear Award from the Berlin Film Festival. His next film, Billy Liar, starred Julie Christie in her first leading role. He followed with the enormously successful Darling, also starring Christie, for which he won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Director and earned his first Academy Award nomination.

Schlesinger again directed Christie in the critically acclaimed Far From the Madding Crowd before directing the milestone American film Midnight Cowboy, which was also his first successful partnership with producer Jerome Hellman.

After Midnight Cowboy, Schlesinger earned another Academy Award nomination for his direction of the controversial Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Among his other credits are The Day of the Locust, Marathon Man, for which he was reunited with Dustin Hoffman, Yanks, Honky Tonk Freeway, The Falcon and the Snowman, The Believers, Madame Sousatzka, Pacific Heights and The Innocent starring Anthony Hopkins and Isabella Rossellini.

In addition to feature films, Schlesinger has directed several successful projects for British television, including the multiple award-winning An Englishman Abroad, Separate Tables and A Question of Attribution, which won the BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama. His production of Cold Comfort Farm, a holiday presentation by the BBC/Thames TV which was released theatrically in the United States, won rave reviews.

Schlesinger has also brought his talents to the stage, directing a number of plays for Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater, including productions of Timon of Athens, Heartbreak House, Julius Caesar and Sam Shepard's True West.

Schlesinger made his operatic directing debut at London's Covent Garden with a production of The Tales of Hoffman, starring Placido Domingo, and has since directed the operas Die Rosenkavalier for the Royal Opera House and Verdi's Un Ballo in Mascherea for the 1989 Salzberg Festival. In 1970, Schlesinger was honored by Queen Elizabeth II, who named him CBE (Commander of the British Empire).

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

John Schlesinger Facts

Birth NameJohn Richard Schlesinger
BirthdayFebruary 16, 1926
BirthplaceLondon, England, United Kingdom
Date of deathJuly 25, 2003 (age 77)
Awards1970 Academy Awards: Best Director (for Midnight Cowboy)

Selected Filmography

Eye for an Eye
Cold Comfort Farm
Midnight Cowboy
Marathon Man
Far from the Madding Crowd
4 Film Favorites: Thrillers
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