Richard Rush


Director
Richard Rush

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA

Biography

Cult 1960s exploitation filmmaker and counterculture chronicler who enjoyed a mainstream critical success as the producer, writer, and director of "The Stunt Man" (1980), a giddily reflexive saga about how movies blur the distinction between illusion and reality. Starring a perfectly cast Peter O'Toole at the peak of his powers playing a perversely god-like director, the film earned thre...

Notes

"Richard Rush understands the language of cinema better than anyone since David Lean. His mother language is film." --Peter O'Toole, quoted in PR for "Color of Night"

"In 1981 when Francois Truffaut visited the United States, he was asked, 'Who is your favorite American director?' He answered, 'I don't know his name, but I saw his film last night. It was called 'The Stunt Man'." --Francois Truffaut, quoted in PR for "Color of Night".

Biography

Cult 1960s exploitation filmmaker and counterculture chronicler who enjoyed a mainstream critical success as the producer, writer, and director of "The Stunt Man" (1980), a giddily reflexive saga about how movies blur the distinction between illusion and reality. Starring a perfectly cast Peter O'Toole at the peak of his powers playing a perversely god-like director, the film earned three Oscar nominations including Best Screenplay and Best Direction and won its star a National Film Critics Circle Award. Despite this triumph, Rush would not get to direct again for 14 years.

Rush worked as a still photographer and recording engineer before entering filmmaking as a director of TV commercials. He entered features as an instant auteur, producing, directing, writing the screenplay and providing the story for "Too Soon to Love" (1960), a now dated teen drama featuring a supporting performance by a young Jack Nicholson. A fading star from an earlier era, Merle Oberon, headlined Rush's next melodramatic outing as a writer-director, "Of Love and Desire" (1963). He went abroad to helm "The Fickle Finger of Fate" (1967), a lowbrow comic adventure starring Tab Hunter before returning home and starting an important collaboration with cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs.

After an inauspicious start with "A Man Called Dagger" (1967)--a bizarre spy spoof starring Jan Murray and featuring a Steve Allen score--the pair crafted "Hell's Angels on Wheels" (1967), a biker classic starring Nicholson as a gas station attendant named Poet who joins the infamous fraternity. With Angels leader Sonny Barger on board as an advisor, this two-week wonder boasted sex, violence, and psychedelia. Working with Rush, Kovacs reputedly developed the long-lens style which has since become an industry standard. They are also credited with innovating the use of rack-focus to shift the emphasis in a scene. Rush and Kovacs continued to employ this gritty style in two AIP exploitation flicks, "Psych-Out" and "Savage Seven" (both 1968), and brought it to a studio feature with "Getting Straight" (1970). The latter, a somewhat dated but still relevant time capsule item, featured a memorable lead performance by Elliot Gould as an aging drop-out who decides to re-enter "respectable" society by becoming an academic.

Rush began his feature career by helming eight films in as many years. After "Getting Straight," four years passed before he produced and directed the popular cop comedy "Freebie and the Bean" (1974) starring James Caan and Alan Arkin. Five more years elapsed before Rush completed "The Stunt Man" which was shelved for a year before its 1980 release. He was involved with a number of abortive projects before returning to the director's chair to helm a would-be Hitchcockian psychological thriller, "Color of Night" (1994), starring Bruce Willis as a troubled shrink. The film opened to healthy box office but faded fast in a flurry of negative reviews.

Life Events

1960

Feature debut, produced, directed, wrote the screenplay, and provided the story for "Too Soon to Love"; first of three collaborations with actor Jack Nicholson

1967

First of six collaborations with acclaimed cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, "A Man Called Dagger"

1967

Directed the first of three low-budget exploitation films for American International Pictures (AIP), "Thunder Alley"

1980

Produced, wrote, and directed the acclaimed feature, "The Stunt Man"; last film as a director for 14 years; last screenwriting credit for ten years

1990

Received co-screenwriting credit (with John Eskow) on Roger Spottiswoode's Vietnam-set political comedy, "Air America" after being fired as director (and initially replaced by Bob Rafelson)

1994

Returned to feature directing after a 14-year hiatus with "Color of Night", a psychological thriller starring Bruce Willis

1994

Suffered heart attack; underwent bypass surgery

Photo Collections

The Stunt Man - Movie Poster
Here is an original movie poster for The Stunt Man (1980), starring Steve Railsback and Peter O'Toole, and directed by Richard Rush. This poster is a variation of the standard One-Sheet, but printed on a heavier stock and sized at 40" x 60".

Videos

Movie Clip

Freebie And The Bean (1974) - Last Week It Was Your Pants Grungy and profane, with the Transamerica building confirming San Francisco, James Caan and Alan Arkin (who’s supposed to be Mexican-American) as the title character cops, opening writer-director Richard Rush’s popular early buddy-action-comedy Freebie And The Bean 1974.
Freebie And The Bean (1974) - Mr. Inconspicuous More banter between boastful James Caan and counterpunching Alan Arkin (whose character is Mexican-American), San Francisco cops staking out a Detroit hit-man, shooting on Pine Street in Nob Hill, matters almost getting serious, in writer-director Richard Rush’s Freebie And the Bean, 1974.
Hell's Angels On Wheels (1967) - Sonny Barger, President Thundering around the Bay Area, director Richard Rush getting full value for the participation of several chapters of the notorious motorcycle gang, with an odd cameo by the real Sonny Barger, opening Hell’s Angels On Wheels, 1967, starring Adam Roarke and Jack Nicholson.
Hell's Angels On Wheels (1967) - You're One Quart Down The gang noted in the title is roaring into a California town where Jack Nicholson is “Poet,” a gas station attendant, who is not nearly as nervous as his customer or his boss, briefly acknowledged by gang leader Buddy (Adam Roarke), early in Hell’s Angels On Wheels, 1967.
Hell's Angels On Wheels (1967) - Four Sailors Just Jumped Him At a California amusement park, thinking he’s been dropped by the motorcycle gang that seemed about to adopt him, “Poet” (Jack Nicholson) gets into a scrap with sailors, causing Buddy (Adam Roark) to intervene, his gal Shill (Sabrina Scharf) in support, in Hell’s Angels On Wheels, 1967.
Devil's Angels(1967) - We're Not Gonna Steal Anything John Cassavetes as “Cody,” doing his impression of a semi-literate motorcycle gang leader, at a northern California gas station and convenience store, which they pillage, Henry Kendrick the owner, John Craig as “Robot,” in the American-International biker-flick Devil’s Angels, 1967.
Psych-Out - Warren's Freaking Out! Stoney (Jack Nicholson) and his band-mates (Adam Roarke and Max Julien) come the rescue when hippie pal Warren (young Henry Jaglom) has a bad acid event in Psych-Out, 1968.
Psych-Out - Opening Deaf heroine Jennie (Susan Strasberg) arrives in Haight-Ashbury on a bus in the opening sequence of director Richard Rush's Psych-Out, 1968, a Dick Clark Production!
Psych-Out - One Big Plastic Hassle Jennie (Susan Strasberg) and Stoney (Jack Nicholson) drop in on englightened Dave (Dean Stockwell) in his Haight-Ashbury rooftop bungalow in Psych-Out, 1968.
Psych-Out - Let's Kill Her and Eat Her Hanging in their Haight-Ashbury coffee shop, Stoney (Jack Nicholson), Ben (Adam Roarke) and Elwood (Max Julien) meet deaf runaway Jennie (Susan Strasberg) in director Richard Rush's Psych-Out, 1968.
Psych-Out - Lack of Communication Steve "The Seeker" (Bruce Dern) relates to Stoney (Jack Nicholson) a horrifying family story explaining the deafness of his sister Jennie in director Richard Rush's Psych-Out, 1968.
Psych-Out - Incense and Peppermints Stoney (Jack Nicholson) and his band "Mumblin' Joe" are doing business in Haight-Ashbury when "Incense and Peppermints" by The Strawberry Alarm Clock arrives in the background in Psych-Out, 1968.

Trailer

Bibliography

Notes

"Richard Rush understands the language of cinema better than anyone since David Lean. His mother language is film." --Peter O'Toole, quoted in PR for "Color of Night"

"In 1981 when Francois Truffaut visited the United States, he was asked, 'Who is your favorite American director?' He answered, 'I don't know his name, but I saw his film last night. It was called 'The Stunt Man'." --Francois Truffaut, quoted in PR for "Color of Night".

"I've chosen not to go for the buck or the hot career move, but instead have always searched for the irresistable script or project," --Richard Rush to The Hollywood Reporter, September 1-7. 1998.