Michael Ritchie


Director
Michael Ritchie

About

Also Known As
Alan Smithee, Michael Brunswick Ritchie
Birth Place
Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA
Born
November 28, 1938
Died
April 16, 2001
Cause of Death
Prostate Cancer

Biography

Wisconsin-born, California-raised Michael Ritchie gained early directorial experience as an undergraduate at Harvard, staging the original production of classmate Arthur Kopit's "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad" in 1960. Following graduation he worked in series TV, directing episodes of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Dr. Kildare." Ritchie's first fe...

Family & Companions

Georgina Ritchie
Wife
First wife; mother of Ritchie's three older children.
Jimmie Ritchie
Wife
Architect. Second wife; mother of Ritchie's two youngest daughters.

Biography

Wisconsin-born, California-raised Michael Ritchie gained early directorial experience as an undergraduate at Harvard, staging the original production of classmate Arthur Kopit's "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad" in 1960. Following graduation he worked in series TV, directing episodes of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Dr. Kildare." Ritchie's first feature, "Downhill Racer" (1969), starring Robert Redford, was noted for its gripping skiing sequences, shot with hand-held 16mm cameras. His third film, "The Candidate" (1972), also starred Redford, and it remains one of the finest cinematic excoriations of the American political system.

Ritchie's subsequent output was primarily in the comedic vein, including the memorable "Smile" (1975, which he also produced), a backstage look at the inner workings of a beauty pageant that exposed the hypocrisies of small-town life in the process. After the amiable "The Bad News Bears" (1976), Ritchie's low-concept comedies, including little-seen bombs like "Student Bodies" (1981) and "Diggstown" (1992), didn't really come off. In a two-year period in the mid-80s, though, Ritchie helmed the fiscally successful Chevy Chase comedy "Fletch" (1985), the Goldie Hawn vehicle "Wildcats," and the Eddie Murphy film "The Golden Child" (both 1986). Somehow Ritchie, who had once directed nifty, very American little movies had become, at best, a hired gun.

In 1993, he penned the story for "Cool Runnings," a cheerful story about the Jamaican bobsled team, which became the sleeper hit of the winter season. This success, paired with his darkly satirical made-for-cable gem, "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" (HBO, 1993), starring Holly Hunter in the title role, marked a return to form for Ritchie. Both movies received critical adulation, unlike Ritchie's lackluster big screen efforts "Cops and Robbersons" and the less than warmly received baseball comedy "The Scout" (both 1994), starring Albert Brooks.

Ritchie rounded out his career helming the unsuccessful big screen adaptation of the long-running Off-Broadway musical "The Fantasticks" (filmed in 1995; released in 2000) and the wan fairy tale-inspired "A Simple Wish" (1997). In the years just prior to his untimely death from prostate cancer in April 2001, the director came full circle, handling helming chores on episodic television, directing for the Showtime showbiz satire "Beggars and Choosers" and the short-lived NBC drama "Deadline."

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Fantasticks (2000)
Director
A Simple Wish (1997)
Director
Cops And Robbersons (1994)
Director
The Scout (1994)
Director
The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993)
Director
Diggstown (1992)
Director
Fletch Lives (1989)
Director
The Couch Trip (1988)
Director
Wildcats (1986)
Director
The Golden Child (1986)
Director
Fletch (1985)
Director
The Survivors (1983)
Director
The Island (1980)
Director
Divine Madness (1980)
Director
An Almost Perfect Affair (1979)
Director
Semi-Tough (1977)
Director
The Bad News Bears (1976)
Director
Smile (1975)
Director
Prime Cut (1972)
Director
The Candidate (1972)
Director
Downhill Racer (1969)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993)
Voice
Innocent Blood (1992)

Writer (Feature Film)

Cool Runnings (1993)
From Story
Cool Runnings (1993)
Story By
An Almost Perfect Affair (1979)
From Story

Producer (Feature Film)

The Fantasticks (2000)
Producer
Student Bodies (1981)
Producer
Divine Madness (1980)
Producer
The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (1978)
Producer
Smile (1975)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

A Simple Wish (1997)
Song
The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993)
Theme Lyrics
Smile (1975)
Theme Lyrics

Cast (Special)

Robert Redford (2002)
Stand-Up Comics Take a Stand! (1989)

Writer (TV Mini-Series)

Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie (2002)
Play As Source Material

Life Events

1960

While at Harvard, staged first production of classmate Arthur Kopit's play "Oh Dad, Poor, Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad"

1964

Graduated to associate producer and director on "Profiles in Courage" series, executive produced by Saudek

1967

Helmed the pilot for the NBC series "The Outsider"

1969

First feature film as director, "Downhill Racer", starring Robert Redford as a champion ski racer

1972

Reteamed with Redford as director of the politically-themed comedy-drama "The Candidate"

1975

First film as producer, "Smile", an underrated satirical look at beauty pageants; also directed

1976

Enjoyed a box-office hit with the comedy "The Bad News Bears", about an inept Little League team

1977

Directed the enjoyable and successful football-themed movie "Semi-Tough"

1978

Helmed the inevitable sequel, "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan"

1980

Produced and directed the feature film "Divine Madness", adapted from Bette Midler's highly successful concert tour

1983

Directed the comedy "The Survivors"

1985

Helmed the film adaptation of the popular detective novel "Fletch"; first of four films with Chevy Chase

1986

Returned to sports-themed comedy with "Wildcats", about a female coaching a football squad

1986

Directed the Eddie Murphy vehicle "The Golden Child"

1988

Reunited with comic actor Chevy Chase for "The Couch Trip"

1989

Helmed the disappointing sequel "Fletch Lives", starring Chase

1992

Played a small role as a night watchman in John Landis's feature, "Innocent Blood"

1993

Returned to the small screen to direct the acclaimed, award-winning HBO movie "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom"

1994

Last feature with Chevy Chase, "Cops & Robbersons"

1994

Once again returned to sports-themes with "The Scout", about a professional baseball scout who discovers a talented young pitcher

1997

Last directorial effort, "A Simple Wish"

1997

Directed the unsold pilot "Comfort, Texas"

1999

Helmed episodes of Showtime's "Beggars and Choosers", a behind-the-scenes look at the running of a TV network

2000

Final released film, an adaptation of the long-running Off-Broadway musical "The Fantasticks" (filmed in 1995), also produced

2000

Final TV work, directed episodes of the short-lived NBC series "Deadline"

Photo Collections

The Candidate (1972) - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Candidate (1972), starring Robert Redford and directed by Michael Ritchie. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Downhill Racer (1969) -- (Movie Clip) Open Stylish opening in the Alps, from director Michael Ritchie in a project driven mostly by star Robert Redford, Downhill Racer, 1969, also starring Gene Hackman and Camilla Sparv.
Downhill Racer (1969) -- (Movie Clip) I'll Be In Ruts Up To My Knees Brought in to replace an injured skier, David Chapellett (Robert Redford, doing most of his own skiing) on his first day with the American Alpine team, bridling with coach Claire (Gene Hackman) and jousting a bit with teammate D-K (Kenneth Kirk) in Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer, 1969.
Downhill Racer (1969) -- (Movie Clip) You Finished Fourth In One Race Top of the hill, then the first subjective-skier shot by Joe Jay Jalbert, Chappellet (Robert Redford) the new guy doing better-than-expected for the U.S. Alpine ski team, then making trouble for coach Claire (Gene Hackman), in Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer, 1969.
Downhill Racer (1969) -- (Movie Clip) The American Way Of Life The ski team is back in the U.S., training and raising money for their next season in Europe, coach Claire (Gene Hackman) making speeches and Chappellet (Robert Redford) home in Colorado, finding his father (Walter Stroud) probably even more unimpressed than expected, in Michael Ritchie’s Downhill Racer, 1969.
Candidate, The (1972) -- (Movie Clip) A Man Who's Hip When He Shoots After a cameo by senator and former vice-president Hubert Humphrey, McKay (Robert Redford), a novice politician but the son of a former governor, with his wife and campaign manager (Karen Carlson, Peter Boyle), attends his first banquet, Pat Harrington the host, in The Candidate, 1972.
Candidate, The (1972) -- (Movie Clip) Clams Are Happy Seeking a senate candidate in California, political hack Lucas (Peter Boyle) visits legal-aid lawyer McCay (Robert Redford), son of a former governor, future columnist Mike Barnicle his colleague, also meeting Mrs. McKay (Karen Carlson), early in Michael Ritchie's The Candidate, 1972.
Candidate, The (1972) -- (Movie Clip) Natalie Wood's Here After winning the California Democratic primary, U.S. Senate candidate McKay (Robert Redford, who recruited his friend and former co-star for this appearance) meets Natalie Wood, his wife (Karen Carlson) and campaign manager (Peter Boyle) in tow, in Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate, 1972.
Candidate, The (1972) -- (Movie Clip) Get Him A Real Drink Liberal California senate candidate McKay (Robert Redford) has been persuaded by his staff to visit his father, the former governor (Melvyn Douglas), who has been rumored to prefer the conservative incumbent, at his mountain cabin, Leslie Allen his consort, in Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate, 1972.
Candidate, The (1972) -- (Movie Clip) Atkinson Has Not Yet Conceded Co-producer and star Robert Redford is barely featured in this opening, Michael Ritchie directing from Jeremy Larner’s Academy Award-winning screenplay, as we meet defeated Atkinson (Joe Miksak) and political professionals Klein and Lucas (Allen Garfield, Peter Boyle), in The Candidate 1972.
Survivors, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) It Was Big To Me Just-fired Donald (Robin Williams) filling up at the gas station owned by Sonny (Walter Matthau), making his first appearance, in Michael Ritchie's The Survivors, 1983.
Survivors, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) With My Pants On First meeting between Sonny (Walter Matthau) and Donald (Robin Williams), after a hard day at the unemployment office, interrupted by a robber (Jerry Reed), in Michael Ritchie's The Survivors, 1983.
Smile (1975) -- (Movie Clip) Inner Beauty Pageant director Brenda (Barbara Feldon) kicks off interviews, Big Bob (Bruce Dern) leading the panel, Robin (Joan Prather) among the contestants, in Michael Ritchie's Smile, 1975.

Trailer

Family

Benbow Ferguson Ritchie
Father
Educator. Taught experimental psychology at UC, Berkeley from 1950 to 1977; died on February 23, 1998 at age 85.
Patricia Ritchie
Mother
Librarian.
Elsie Ritchie
Sister
Born in October 1953.
John Benbow Ritchie
Brother
Born in August 1955.
Nelly Bly
Step-Daughter
Mother, Jimmie Ritchie.
Billy Bly
Step-Son
Mother, Jimmie Ritchie.
Lauren A Ritchie
Daughter
Born in 1966; mother, Georgina Ritchie.
Steven P Ritchie
Son
Born on February 28, 1973; twin of Jessica; mother, Georgina Ritchie.
Jessica A Ritchie
Daughter
Born on March 1, 1973; twin of Steven; mother, Georgina Ritchie.
Lillian Ritchie
Daughter
Born in July 1986; mother, Jimmie Ritchie.
Miriam Rose Ritchie
Daughter
Born in December 1988; mother, Jimmie Ritchie.

Companions

Georgina Ritchie
Wife
First wife; mother of Ritchie's three older children.
Jimmie Ritchie
Wife
Architect. Second wife; mother of Ritchie's two youngest daughters.

Bibliography