John Mackenzie (director)

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John Mackenzie
Born John Leonard Duncan MacKenzie
(1928-05-22)May 22, 1928
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Died 8 June 2011(2011-06-08) (aged 83)
Scotland, UK
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation Film director
Years active 1966–2009

John Mackenzie (22 May 1928 – 8 June 2011),[1] was a Scottish film director who worked in British film from the late 1960s, first as an assistant director and later as an independent director himself.[2] He has been described by critics as "a solid and reliable filmmaker with... frequent flairs of brilliance",[citation needed] but despite tackling such topics as the Hiberno-British struggle, or the assassination of John F. Kennedy he was generally not thought of as a political filmmaker.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Mackenzie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 22 May 1928 and educated at Holy Cross Academy.[3] He studied History at Edinburgh University.[3] He studied drama and joined Edinburgh's Gateway Theatre Company.[3] He worked as a teacher and moved to London in 1960.[3]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Mackenzie came at a relatively young age into the formative world of British cinema in the 1960s, with a ready interest in storytelling and narrative devices. Fortuitously for his career, Mackenzie began his career proper with the English director Ken Loach, acting as the latter's assistant director on such works as Up the Junction (1965) and Cathy Come Home (1966). This training allowed Mackenzie to begin a move into directing himself, as well as teaching him the skills of working on location with non-professional, local actors to a tight budget and schedule.

Directing, film and television[edit]

Initially, Mackenzie worked on television plays, following his apprenticeship with Loach.[citation needed] During this period he directed episodes of The Jazz Age and ITV Saturday Night Theatre. His first film was the television drama There Is Also Tomorrow (1969), followed by two feature films One Brief Summer (1970) and Unman, Wittering and Zigo, an adaptation of Giles Cooper's radio play (1971). Mackenzie still largely worked for television, aside from the independent production Made (1972), until in 1979 he directed the highly acclaimed A Sense of Freedom, a BAFTA-nominated film (released on television in the US in 1985). Freedom was surpassed, however, by Mackenzie's next film, the gangster piece The Long Good Friday, generally accepted as his masterpiece.[citation needed]

The Long Good Friday, starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, opened up opportunities to work in the United States. The Honorary Consul was adapted from Graham Greene's novel by Christopher Hampton. Also released as Beyond the Limit, the film re-united Mackenzie with Hoskins, as well as giving him the chance to direct Michael Caine and Richard Gere. Mackenzie's other films of this period include The Innocent (1985) and The Fourth Protocol (1987), with Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan.

The greatest success that Mackenzie enjoyed in his American period was Ruby (1992),[2] a biopic of Jack Ruby, the Texan nightclub owner who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby starred Academy Award-nominated Danny Aiello and Twin Peaks actor Sherilyn Fenn.[4] Another film of this period was The Last of the Finest, a UK-US thriller starring Brian Dennehy. Mackenzie's returned to the UK in 1993.[citation needed]

Mackenzie later directed films such as Deadly Voyage (1996) and When the Sky Falls (2000).[2]

Death[edit]

Mackenzie died after suffering a stroke on June 8, 2011, just after his 83rd birthday.[1] He is survived by his three daughters (Colyn, Katherine and Rebecca) by Wendy Marshall, whom he married in 1956 and who predeceased him.[3]

Filmography[edit]

As Assistant Director

As Director: Film

As Director: Television

References[edit]

External links[edit]