Clive Donner, RIP

Film buffs will mourn the passing of Clive Donner, a film director whose career peaked a long time ago and did not have enduring impact in the U.S. Much of the English new wave films, like the French new wave films of the same period, look a bit self-conscious and pretentious today, but Donner’s skill still shows through.

His best film I think is actually something very traditional, and is appropriate viewing for these recessionary times: A made for TV adaptation of a Christmas Carol. Alistair Sim still does it better (in part because the otherwise perfect George C. Scott doesn’t quite nail the accent), but otherwise this is the best live action adaptation of the oft-filmed Dickens classic.

Here is a great clip from the movie in which Scrooge opines about coal and clothes

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

4 thoughts on “Clive Donner, RIP”

  1. I always liked The Caretaker. If by English New Wave, you're referring to what are also called the Kitchen Sink dramas, I have to respectfully disagree. I still believe that Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is Albert Finney's best film, while The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Kind of Loving, The Servant and This Sporting Life continue to endure.

  2. Hi Randy

    People divide film movements up differently, so we'd have to go film by film. I think one of Richard Burton's best performances is in Look Back in Anger, which I think of as one of the Angry Young Man films…but there are film critics who see that movement as a sub-genre of the New Wave.

    I think the ultimate and most lasting Kitchen Sink Drama in English history is Coronation Street BTW. The most widely watched US television shows in Europe in the 1980s were Dallas and Dynasty, so fascinating that our big selling soaps are about the uber-rich and the longest running soap in England is about the working class.

    But anyway, fundamentally, de gustibus non est disputandum…happy viewing to us both.

  3. Keith,

    I think you can see a better link between the Italian Neorealists and the British Kitchen Sink movement than between the French New Wave. Indeed, you can see a parallel between the "white telephone" films (aided by the fact that one of the genre's greatest stars, Vittorio de Sica, played such a significant role in the neorealist movement) and the Ealing era films as well as such films as Brief Encounter developing into the Neorealist and Kitchen Sink movements, respectively.

    This was also backed for England by the rise of such writers as Alan Sillitoe and Harold Pinter. There is, in my opinion, no better evisceration of class in England than The Servant, and while Joseph Losey got credit for directing it, it exudes Pinter. Eight years later, they explored the same issue probably even more starkly with The Go-Between.

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