Dick Clement

Active - 1967 - 2017  |   Born - Sep 5, 1937   |   Genres - Comedy

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Born in 1937 in West Cliff-on-Sea, England, screenwriter-turned-director Dick Clement cut his teeth on the small screen in his mid- to late twenties, as a BBC television writer and director, including such now-classic programs as the sitcom The Likely Lads (1964), the Dudley Moore and Peter Cook series Not Only...But Also (1965), and the brief Steptoe and Son successor Mr. Aitch (1967), starring Harry H. Corbett.

Clement segued into big-screen comedy in 1966, co-scripting (with Ian La Frenais) the Michael Winner-directed picture The Jokers. Issued in the U.K. in 1967 and stateside in 1968, the film received generally solid reviews. It stars Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed as a pair of nitwits who devise an insane scheme to lift the British crown jewels. The picture's success paved the way for one additional collaboration between Winner and Clement, 1969's Hannibal Brooks, also starring Oliver Reed. But that farce -- about a couple of POWs who abscond from WWII Italy with a pachyderm -- struck just about everyone as mediocre and marked the end of their collaborative relationship.

That same year, however, Clement took his directorial bow with the James Bond-style spy spoof Otley, with former "angry young man" Tom Courtenay as its lead. A number of additional screenwriting credits for comedies followed throughout the '70s and '80s, of decidedly uneven reception. This period had its high points -- such as the well-regarded big-screen TV spin-off Porridge (1979), starring Ronnie Barker as a prison inmate -- and its lows, such as the abysmal 1985 farce Water, a pay-television staple during the late-'80s starring Michael Caine and Valerie Perrine that satirizes Britain's invasions of Grenada and the Falklands. One high point during the mid- to late '80s came when Clement went Hollywood and scripted Brian Gilbert's Vice Versa, a blockbuster, family-friendly hit with Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage as a father and son who "swap bodies."

But Clement would score his greatest triumph to date (even outshining The Jokers) when he co-drafted an adaptation of Roddy Doyle's novel The Commitments (1991) -- the first in a series of Doyle adaptations to grace the screen in the early '90s. This picture -- about a newly formed Irish soul band, with a series of unknowns in its cast -- won raves around the world and swept up a plethora of BAFTA awards. Thereafter, Clement penned a series of features including 1997's Excess Baggage and 1998's Still Crazy, and provided uncredited contributions to mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer's cash cows The Rock and then Bad Boys II, starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.

Clement landed no less than four additional screenwriting gigs between 2005-2006 alone, including director Jon Jones' murder mystery Archangel (2005), set in Communist Russia; Goal! (2005), a British soccer drama starring Kuno Becker and Alessandro Nivola; Flushed Away (2006), a DreamWorks CG-animated picture about a mouse named Roddy who gets flushed down the toilet and winds up in a vermin-infested city called Ratropolis; and Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, a hallucinatory musical love story, set against the turbulent backdrop of the '60s, with countless Beatles songs providing the backdrop.

The same period found Clement hard at work developing several stage musicals: Victoria's Secret, with a score by Paul Williams and Dave Stewart; Helen of Troy, libretto by Brendan Healy and AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson. The stage musical adaptation ofBarbarella, written by Clement with a libretto by Dave Stewart, opened in 2004 and closed in early 2005.

For the most part, Clement and Ian La Frenais have maintained their writing partnership throughout their careers.

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