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HomeMoviesNorman Jewison, director of 'Fiddler on the Roof,' dies at 97 :...

Norman Jewison, director of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ dies at 97 : NPR

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Norman Jewison, proven right here on the set of 1987’s Moonstruck, was born in Toronto and served within the Canadian navy throughout World Struggle II.

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Norman Jewison, proven right here on the set of 1987’s Moonstruck, was born in Toronto and served within the Canadian navy throughout World Struggle II.

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From the race drama Within the Warmth of the Night time to the musical Fiddler on the Roof, Canadian-born director Norman Jewison defied categorization. He has died on the age of 97.

Jewison began his profession in tv. He was producing and directing a TV particular when he caught the eye of actor Tony Curtis. “You do good work, child,” Curtis recalled in his 2005 autobiography. “When are you gonna make a film?” Not lengthy after that encounter, Jewison directed Curtis within the 1962 comedy 40 Kilos of Hassle. Different comedies adopted, with Doris Day, James Garner and Rock Hudson. These have been all studio assignments, however Jewison quickly began making his personal movies, together with 1965’s The Cincinnati Child, starring Steve McQueen, and a 1966 spoof of Chilly Struggle politics known as The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!, starring Alan Arkin.

Sidney Poitier performed Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs in Within the Warmth of the Night time.

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Sidney Poitier performed Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs in Within the Warmth of the Night time.

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Jewison was born in Toronto and served within the Canadian navy throughout World Struggle II. As he advised NPR in 2011, he was on depart towards the tip of the struggle — solely 18 years previous and in uniform — when he acquired on a bus in Memphis, Tenn.:

“It was a scorching, scorching day, and I noticed a window open on the again so I headed to the again of the bus. And I sat down with my bag and by the open window. The bus driver checked out me, and I might see his face within the mirror. He says, ‘Are you attempting to be humorous, sailor?’ He says, ‘Cannot you learn the signal?’ And there was a little bit signal and it stated, ‘Coloured individuals to the rear.’ “

Jewison seemed round and noticed that he was the one white passenger within the again. “I used to be only a child, however I used to be sort of shocked,” he stated. “I believed, properly, the one factor I might do is get off the bus.” It was his first expertise with racial prejudice and, he says, it laid the groundwork for 1967’s Within the Warmth of the Night time. That movie starred Rod Steiger as small city Mississippi police chief and Sidney Poitier as a customer to the city who’s accused of homicide. It received 5 Oscars, together with Finest Image.

Movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin remembers seeing Within the Warmth of the Night time when it first got here out. He says, “This movie caught lightning in a bottle… By casting Poitier and Steiger as adversaries who need to work collectively, have to seek out some option to work collectively in a Southern city, it simply set issues up so completely for character improvement towards a backdrop that definitely all Individuals might relate to.”

Jewison directs Denzel Washington in 1999’s The Hurricane, a couple of boxer who’s wrongly convicted of homicide.

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Jewison directs Denzel Washington in 1999’s The Hurricane, a couple of boxer who’s wrongly convicted of homicide.

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Jewison adopted Within the Warmth of the Night time with the 1968 hit thriller The Thomas Crown Affair, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, however his largest hit got here in 1971 with Fiddler on the Roof. By then, Jewison had a profitable observe document. Nonetheless, when United Artists approached him to direct Fiddler on the Roof, it took Jewison a minute to determine why.

“I’ve acquired a wierd identify,” he stated in his 2011 NPR interview. “Jewison. In case you have a look at it carefully, it sort of seems to be like I am the son of a Jew. And I believed, Oh, my God. They assume I am Jewish. What am I going to do? As a result of how will you direct Fiddler on the Roof when you’re not Jewish? So, I assume I’ve to inform them.”

He acquired the job anyway, and the movie received three Oscars. It was as completely different from any of Jewison’s earlier movies because it may very well be. Leonard Maltin says that is what makes Jewison price remembering.

“You’ll be able to’t simply pigeonhole Norman Jewison as a result of he did not wish to be pigeonholed,” Maltin says. “There isn’t any one identifiable Norman Jewison sort of movie. The identical man who made [the romantic comedy] Moonstruck made Fiddler on the Roof and The Thomas Crown Affair and a few good Doris Day films again within the ’60s and [the World War II drama] A Soldier’s Story. These are all Norman Jewison movies.”

Tom Cole edited this story for broadcast and Nicole Cohen tailored it for the Net.

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