Richard Franklin (director)
15 July 1948|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Died||11 July 2007
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Early life and career
Franklin was born and grew up in Brighton, Melbourne and was educated at Haileybury College. In the 1960s, Franklin was the drummer in the Melbourne band The Pink Finks, which also featured Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford, later of Daddy Cool. The band released several singles, none of which had any significant chart success. Franklin decided upon a career in film rather than music. He went on to study film at The University of Southern California alongside other notable directors George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis and John Carpenter. Franklin was a devotee of Alfred Hitchcock (ever since he saw Psycho at the age of 12), and his attempt to arrange for a screening of Hitchcock's Rope (1948) at USC resulted in a phone-call from Hitchcock himself. Franklin invited Hitchcock to give a lecture at the university, and subsequently he became good friends with the director.
Franklin returned to Australia in the 1970s, when the country's film industry was experiencing a resurgence. He directed four episodes of the Australian police drama "Homicide" before directing the bawdy 1975 sex comedy feature The True Story of Eskimo Nell and the 1976 soft-core pornography feature Fantasm. Franklin's next film was the cult horror movie Patrick (1978), written by Everett De Roche, about a man in a coma who uses telekinesis to create murder and mayhem in a hospital. Franklin gave De Roche a copy of the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1958), and De Roche suggested a movie with the plot of Rear Window taking place in a moving vehicle. The result was Roadgames (1981), directed by Franklin from a screenplay by De Roche. Filmed and set in Australia, and starring American actors Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis (the latter whom Franklin met whilst visiting his one-time USC classmate John Carpenter on the set of The Fog), Roadgames was the most expensive Australian movie ever made at the time of its release in 1981.
After moving to Hollywood, Richard Franklin directed Psycho II (1983), the first sequel to Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho, with Anthony Perkins reprising the role of Norman Bates. The film was a financial success and received generally good reviews (it also led to a further two sequels, neither of which Franklin was involved with). Franklin then directed the 1984 spy/adventure movie Cloak & Dagger, starring Henry Thomas and Dabney Coleman. The film was a remake of The Window (1949), which was in turn based on the short story "The Boy Who Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich (Woolrich's short story "It Had to Be Murder" was adapted into Hitchcock's Rear Window, which was the inspiration for Franklin's Roadgames). Franklin's next film was Link (1986) a British horror movie (starring Elisabeth Shue and Terence Stamp) about a super-intelligent, murderous orangutan. The film reunited Franklin with screenwriter Everett De Roche. Franklin was disillusioned with Hollywood after the experience of directing the 1991 action/thriller FX2: The Deadly Art Of Illusion (starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy).
Return to Australia
Very conscious attempts to prove that I could do what Australian filmmakers like Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford had done, which was make very classy arthouse types of films. Peter Weir was being offered material like Witness, that I would have loved to have directed, because he was perceived as an arthouse filmmaker. Whereas even in Hollywood I was perceived as a genre filmmaker, and not able to get these special elements that would win Oscars and the like.
Richard Franklin died of prostate cancer on 11 July 2007, four days before his 59th birthday. The documentary film Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008), for which Franklin was interviewed, was released after his death and was dedicated to him. Before his death, Franklin was set to be interviewed for The Psycho Legacy, a documentary that examined the Psycho franchise however said interview was never filmed. However Franklin was enthusiastic about the documentary project and wanted to do whatever he could to help the production.
Quentin Tarantino has cited Roadgames as his favourite Australian movie , and he screened Psycho II at the sixth Quentin Tarantino Film Festival (2005)[dead link]. Tarantino revealed in an interview that when he was a teenager, he wanted to write a book on genre filmmakers, and Richard Franklin was one of the directors he wanted to engage in conversation for it.
- George, Sandy (2007-07-13). "Australian thriller director dies". The Australian.
- McFarlane, Brian (2007-07-20). "A passionate, witty, precise filmmaker" (obituary). The Age.
- "The Pink Finks". MILESAGO: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975.
- Interview with Richard Franklin, Mondo Stump, originally published in Eros Magazine Vol 3 No 1 (2003), Canberra accessed 15 October 2012
- Julie Rigg (2003-11-26). "Richard Franklin: Visitors". The Deep End. ABC Radio National. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/deepend/stories/2003/997656.htm.
- Peary, Gerald (August 1992). "A Brief Talk with Quentin Tarantino". Transcript of an interview with Tarantino at the 1992 Montreal World Film Festival.
- Graham, Aaron W. (July 2005). "Richard Franklin". Senses of Cinema (36). An article surveying Franklin's filmmaking career.
- "Senses of Cinema - Richard Franklin". Franklin wrote three articles for Senses of Cinema that are accessible from this webpage.