Richard Franklin (director)

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Richard Franklin
Richard Franklin (director).jpg
Born(1948-07-15)15 July 1948
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died11 July 2007(2007-07-11) (aged 58)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
OccupationFilm director
Years active1975–2003

Richard Franklin (15 July 1948 – 11 July 2007) was an Australian film director.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Franklin was born and grew up in Brighton, Melbourne,[2] the son of Margaret Anne (Jacobson) and Rea Richard Franklin, an engineering company director.[3] He 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.[4] 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.[1]

Directing career[edit]

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 (1954), 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 of 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.[1]

US films[edit]

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 Road Games).

Franklin was going to make The Lost Boys at one stage[5] but his 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[edit]

He returned to Australia where he filmed Hotel Sorrento (1995) and Brilliant Lies (1996). Franklin called these films

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.[6]

Final years[edit]

Franklin's most recent film, Visitors, was shot in 2003.[7] He lectured at Swinburne School of Film and Television in Australia until his death.

Richard Franklin died of prostate cancer on 11 July 2007, four days before his 59th birthday.[1] 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, the said interview with him was never filmed. Nevertheless, Franklin was enthusiastic about the documentary project and had wanted to do whatever he could to assist in its production.

Quentin Tarantino has cited Roadgames as his favourite Australian movie,[8] and he screened Psycho II at the sixth Quentin Tarantino Film Festival (2005).[9] 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.[10]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1975 The True Story of Eskimo Nell Yes Yes Yes Also known as "Dick Down Under"
1978 Patrick Yes Yes Nominated — AACTA Award for Best Film
1981 Roadgames Yes Yes Yes
1983 Psycho II Yes
1984 Cloak & Dagger Yes
1986 Link Yes Yes
1991 F/X2 Yes
1992 Running Delilah Yes Television film
1995 Hotel Sorrento Yes Yes Yes AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — AACTA Award for Best Film
Nominated — AACTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated — Tokyo International Film Festival - Grand Prix
1996 Brilliant Lies Yes Yes Yes
1997 One Way Ticket Yes TV film
1999 The Lost World Yes Pilot film (episodes 1 & 2) + four additional episodes
2003 Visitors Yes Yes
2008 Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! Self


  1. ^ a b c d George, Sandy (2007-07-13). "Australian thriller director dies". The Australian.
  2. ^ McFarlane, Brian (2007-07-20). "A passionate, witty, precise filmmaker" (obituary). The Age.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Pink Finks". MILESAGO: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Interview with Richard Franklin, Mondo Stump, originally published in Eros Magazine Vol 3 No 1 (2003), Canberra accessed 15 October 2012
  7. ^ Julie Rigg (2003-11-26). "Richard Franklin: Visitors". The Deep End. ABC Radio National.
  8. ^ "Event". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  9. ^ "QT6 - Quentin Tarantino Film Festival VI: Day 2". 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  10. ^ Peary, Gerald (August 1992). "A Brief Talk with Quentin Tarantino". Transcript of an interview with Tarantino at the 1992 Montreal World Film Festival.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]