Tony Richardson (1928-1991)

Vandaag is het precies twintig jaar geleden dat de Britse regisseur (en ooit “an angry young man”) Tony Richardson is overleden. Op mijn blog is vanalles over hem te vinden, maar dan wel via de zoekfunctie (zie rechterbovenhoek). Alsof ik het erom heb gedaan, duikt zijn naam in een tiental “lemma’s” op, maar telkens slechts één keer. Met andere woorden, het was erg moeilijk om op basis van al die losse fragmenten tot één samenhangend geheel te komen. Daarom heb ik voor een andere oplossing geopteerd. Ik ben alweer eens leentjebuur gaan spelen bij de onevenaarbare Wikipedia en in die (ingekorte) tekst heb ik dan de links gestoken, naar “den Tony”, en dat allemaal om het u, beste lezer, gemakkelijker te maken. Zeg nu eens braaf: dank u, Ronny. Dan zeg ik: graag gedaan, beste lezer.

Richardson was born in Shipley, Yorkshire in 1928, the son of a chemist. He was Head Boy at Ashville College, Harrogate and attended Wadham College, Oxford, where his contemporaries included Kenneth Tynan and Lindsay Anderson. In 1955, in his directing début, Richardson produced Jean Giraudoux’s The Apollo of Bellac for television with Denholm Elliott and Natasha Parry in the main roles.
Representative of the British “New Wave” of directors, he developed the ideas that led to the formation of the English Stage Company. He directed John Osborne’s seminal play Look Back in Anger at the Court, writing both the theatre and playwright into British theatrical history. In the same period he directed Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then in 1957 he directed Sir Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice in Osborne’s The Entertainer, again at the Royal Court.
In 1959, Richardson co-founded Woodfall Films with John Osborne, and, as Woodfall’s debut, directed the film version of Look Back in Anger despite having no track record in making feature films (he had, however, been a pioneer in Britain’s Free Cinema movement; co-directing the non-fiction short Momma Don’t Allow with Karel Reisz in 1955). Richardson and Osborne eventually fell out during production of the film Charge of the Light Brigade.
In 1962 he directed “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”, based upon the book by another angry young man, Alan Sillitoe.
In 1964 Richardson received two Academy Awards (Best Director and Best Picture) for Tom Jones (1963). The prestige that lent him led immediately to The Loved One (based upon the book by Evelyn Waugh), during which he worked with established stars such as Sir John Gielgud, Rod Steiger and Robert Morse working in Hollywood both on location and on the sound stage. In his autobiography he confesses that he did not share the general admiration of Haskell Wexler, who did double duty on the picture as producer and director of photography.
In 1970 he directed a famous version of “Hamlet” with Anthony Hopkins in the title role.
The films of Richardson’s mid-career had nothing in common beyond shrewd collaborations with very talented people. His screenwriters were Jean Genet, Christopher Isherwood, Marguerite Duras, Edward Bond (adapting Vladimir Nabokov), and Edward Albee.
In 1974 he went to Los Angeles to work on a script (never produced) with Sam Shepard, and to his own surprise took up residence there. Later that year he began work on Mahogany (1975), starring Diana Ross, but was fired by Motown head Berry Gordy shortly after production began. Gordy took over direction himself.
Richardson was to make four more major films before his death, amongst them “Hotel New Hampshire”, based upon the book by John Irving. His last, Blue Sky, was released posthumously and won a Best Actress Oscar for Jessica Lange.
Richardson was married to actress Vanessa Redgrave from 1962 until they divorced in 1967. The couple had two daughters, Natasha Richardson (1963–2009) and Joely Richardson (born 1965), both actresses. He left Redgrave for actress Jeanne Moreau, although the marriage he had anticipated never materialised. In 1972 he also had a relationship with Grizelda Grimond, the daughter of British politician Jo Grimond, who was working as secretary to Richardson’s partner (actually ex-partner by that time) Oscar Lewenstein. Grizelda bore him a daughter, Katharine Grimond, on 8 January 1973.
Richardson was bisexual, but never acknowledged it publicly until after he contracted AIDS. He died of complications from AIDS in 1991.

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