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Sir Richard Attenborough

September 9, 1996

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Sir Richard Attenborough, known for his grandiose films, was born in Cambridge, England on August 29, 1923. The first half of his career in film centered around his acting talents. His most notable roles include "Big X" Bartlett in The Great Escape (1963), a kidnapper in Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and as a tough navigator in Flight of the Phoenix (1966). He recently returned to acting, after a 14-year hiatus, as the grandfatherly John Hammond in the box-office smash, Jurassic Park (1993).

His first film as a director was the star-studded debacle, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and followed it with the highly entertaining biopic Young Winston (1972). The former is a musical set in WWI, while the latter is an intimate portrait of Winston Churchill's early triumphs. Sir Richard followed that film up with the nortorious flop, A Bridge Too Far (1977), A WWII story based on the popular Cornelius Ryan novel. It failed to live up to everyone's expectations. But in 1982, Attenborough found his place among the great film directors, with his epic masterpiece, Gandhi (1982). The subsequent films, A Chorus Line (1985), Cry Freedom (1987) and Chaplin (1992), have been noted as big-scale productions that emphasized the grand-scale classics of David Lean. However, Attenborough has made only one film that has both style and substance (Gandhi). Usually, his attempts at Lean-scale epics tend to bog down into boring, overlong melodramas. I'm hoping that Attenborough could be the next David Lean, but he seems to lack the knowledge, that Lean had, of making his substance better than his style. But besides these minor complaints, he's not that bad when it comes to making the simplest of stories seem majestic.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10: 6

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