Donald Cammell

Active - 1967 - 1995  |   Born - Jan 17, 1934   |   Died - Apr 24, 1996   |   Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental, Drama, Thriller, Crime, Horror

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Though he had only four feature-length directorial efforts to his credit over his 27-year-long career, filmmaker/screenwriter Donald Cammell was known for his offbeat, somewhat uneven, though usually interesting work. His psychedelic 1970 psychodrama Performance, starring Mick Jagger, James Fox, and Michelle Breton, remains a cult favorite as is the underrated sci-fi thriller Demon Seed (1977), in which a super computer takes over its creator's home, seals all exits, and tries taking control of the scientist's wife. Performance, with its stylish use of color, quick cuts, and wild camera work, is said to have been an ancestor to the rock videos popularized on MTV in the early '80s. Cammell started out as a painter who found popularity amongst the hip in 1960s London. He later used his experiences then as the basis for stories and scripts. Cammell received his first co-writing credit with Duffy (1968), the story of an aging hippy who sets out to kill the wealthy father of greedy brothers. Following Demon Seed, Cammell did not complete another directorial project until White of the Eye (1988). Although critically acclaimed, a bankruptcy delayed its U.S. release, and when it did show, audiences rejected it. Still, the brutal thriller caught Hollywood's eye. Cammell then embarked upon a series of never-completed projects including the writing of 3000 which was later sold to Disney and made into Pretty Woman (1990). Cammell was working on two projects for Marlon Brando, FanTan and Jericho, but neither were completed as the backer, Cine Fin, fell apart. A third project with Brando and Johnny Depp, Divine Rapture, never made it past its first two weeks of filming. Cammell finally completed a film, Wild Side, in 1995. A sexual thriller originally over two and a half hours long, the work was cut down significantly by the production company and marketed on cable. Cammell was distraught and had his name removed from the credits. He remained in a deep depression, and on April 23, 1996, he shot himself in the head. Cammell is survived by his wife and occasional screenwriting partner China Cammell.

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