Thursday, 4 September 2014

RIP Andrew V McLaglen

Another sad loss to cinema today as veteran film director Andrew V McLaglen (pictured below with Roger Moore on the set of The Sea Wolves) has passed away aged 94.

As a child, seeing the words 'Directed by Andrew V McLaglen', would often spark my interest largely because I was a fan of his father Victor McLaglen (thanks to his turn in films like Gunga Din and The Quiet Man) and because you knew you were in for a barnstormer of a film with plenty of action and big name stars, often approaching the twilight of their careers.

Born in England in 1920, McLaglen soon moved to Hollywood as his father's acting career progressed. The young Andrew literally grew up on film sets, specifically those of John Ford, who would often cast his father. Ford would later give Andrew the chance to assistant direct his film The Quiet Man in 1952, with McLaglen junior helping to direct McLaglen snr.

From there McLaglen moved into TV, directing shows such as Perry Mason and westerns such as Rawhide, Gunsmoke and The Virginian. Showing a real flair for the genre, it wasn't long before he moved back to the big screen as a director of westerns such as Shenandoah, McLintock!, Chisum and The Last Hard Men, a series of films that would mark him as one of the last American directors to specialise in the western genre.

In the 70s, McLaglen started to specialise in the war and action genre and turned out a succession of movies produced by Euan Lloyd and starring Roger Moore such as North Sea Hijack, The Sea Wolves and most memorably The Wild Geese. The latter two was also choc full of classic British character actors and big name stars such as Gregory Peck and David Niven in the former Richard Burton and Richard Harris in the latter.

It was these films that captivated me as a child who loved a good war yarn. Of course as I got older I realised that many of McLaglen's films - even my beloved Wild Geese which I still rate highly - were hoary old star vehicles often with a distinctly bitter ill advised taste to the proceedings, yet I still hold them in some nostalgic affection.

His last film was 1989's Return to the River Kwai.  


1 comment:

  1. I also have a great affection for his movies. He did become the master of what might be called the Geriatric Action Movie (a genre which has recently been revived recently with RED and THE EXPENDABLES), my favourite probably being THE SEA WOLVES. It's a pretty good war movie, and based on a true life incident, although whenever Roger Moore's character appears it's best to treat the 'based on a true story' claim with a pinch of salt. McClaglen seems to have viewed his aim as a movie maker as keeping the audience happy. McCLINTOCK is essentially a scrapbook of John Wayne's greatest hits, and you get the feeling with a lot of his movies that the elderly stars were having as much fun as the audience. He always seemed out of synch with the times, and there is the sense that had he been making movies thirty or forty years before he would have been much better remembered.

    Although they are old fashioned, there are surprisingly modern elements in them. The mid-60s James Stewart western SHENANDOAH is pretty uncompromisingly anti-war, and this was sometime before the American public turned against the Vietnam conflict. Equally, McCLINTOCK has the main character bequeathing his property to the country as a wildlife reserve, as well as expressing sympathy for the American Indians. On top of this, another of my favourites is the frankly barmy NORTH SEA HIJACK, and how many action movies of the period strongly imply that its main, action-hero, character is gay?